The 2017 Mumbai Film Festival recently came to close after screening nearly 245 movies over the course of 7 days.
This year MAMI proved to be an exceptionally weak year (might be due to my poor selection of films!!) for the festival. Few films I saw at MAMI were outright bad, and many were mindboggling – even great. Naturally, that made putting together a list of the best a little bit of a challenge. Still, some films proved to bowl me over more than others.
Check out the 5 best movies I saw at MAMI 2017.
Oblivion Verses (de Los versos del olvido)
Director: Alireza Khatami
What is the greatest simple trick you can pull off? All of us are magicians in our own strength. We try forgetting past all the time to move on but we lose ourselves in self-pity. Whatever we might be going through we keep trying to find answers in the big belly of past rather than trying to live in the present. We have to look past our oblivion to understand what our purpose is and how we can attain the destiny. The specialty in this movie is that nothing is said in straightforward Verses. Everything is said in a metaphoric way that you fall in love with the technique. Can you imagine a whale being equated to hope? Let your heart take over the mind to completely immerse in the story.
Director: Hansal Mehta
Can an extremist be human? We keep hearing about this one line from our younger days… no one is a born criminal. But there is a generalization that only a person who is underprivileged and has emotional issues can become a monster. Is it really it? Then, how come a beggar, homeless can be more understanding than an IT employee. They can share a torn blanket but do you see an IT employee being equally compassionate? It’s not necessary for everyone to react the same way and similarly, cliched thinking is not also the order of the day. The brain acts in mysterious ways and a monster can raise from highly privileged lifestyle too. Hansal Mehta plays with the camera and time frame in setting up the character very well that we end up knowing a person who becomes a demon that we hate to the core. Censorship might dilute the impact but thankfully someone had sense and sensibility to show us uncut version. Salute to Rajkummar Rao for being so unique.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
From younger days, we are fed the idea that our nature is like our mother and we should care about it. We study about ecosystems, biological cycles, and food chains but do we really care about it? Can we really stay away from religion and enjoy the nature in its purest form without hurting it? It is difficult to explain what you feel after being emotionally vested in such a personal experience of identifying the inner demon that exists in all of us. The director really compels us to find him or her within us and live with the realization of it. A great experience for me in the theatre.
On Body and Soul (Teströl és lélekröl)
Director: Ildikó Enyedi
Love finds its way through distinct ways. We can’t really say when and how. But we just fall in love and try to maintain our individuality even in the awkwardness of our senselessness. That is the sensibility of love. A person in love is so foolish that he can do anything to win the affection or even not do anything. But can the cosmos stay away from deciding your life Forward? No.. that’s the magic of the universe. Your heartbreak, your emotion it is the wheel that keeps the universe a unique place. In this movie, a deer couple runs the love story of this live couple. How poetic to say two hibernated bodies uniting with a soul to become one? You have to see the movie to believe it. On Body and Soul, took me through such journey. This is an awkward love story that makes you fall in love with yourself.
Directors: Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi
It’s always fascinating to discover someone through documentaries. Chavela Vargas is a name that not many are familiar with, but after seeing Chavela, directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi, the name of this Mexican ranchera singer will be hard to forget. This is a documentary full of interviews and her live performances distill the essence of this Mexican artist’s persona into an engaging narrative to fans and newcomers alike, which is very hard to come by. The story rounds up: her disturbed childhood – disowned parents – her early rise through cabaret singing – turning a symbol for the gay community – 12 years of a break after a successful 40 years career – love in anecdotal tales – how her alcoholism effected people around her and ultimately her own at the age of 92. This documentary does a great job of piecing together tons of old footage of Chavela Vargas and interviews with public figures at the time. It accomplishes exactly what it wants to and I hope a lot of people get to see it.
Honorable Mentions :
On the Beach in the Night Alone deserves an applause for its well thought out execution and an unpredictable storyline that makes you sit up and notice the intricate details.
The Last Flag Flying: A Good mix of emotions in. Road Movie with great performances. If you don’t really crack up on the God joke… you might be missing something.
24 Frames: Just for the idea’s sake and to know the imagination of a creative mind, one can easily catch this movie.
Summer 1993: When we are going through a depression sometimes we fail to express ourselves. Well, unless and until we express, how can we expect people to know us?
Claire’s Camera: Can you make a riveting cinema within a film festival? This film shows that we can and I salute for their courage.
Wajib: A much-needed discussion about how highly expressive today’s youth feels about the old ways of living. Well, isn’t the existence of one allows other to exist??