A day before the 14th Mumbai Film Festival commences, Tina Ambani discusses her comeback, Indian cinema’s centenary and recommends her favourite films.
Have you ever considered returning to the film industry in any capacity — as an actor or producer?
I believe change is the only constant in life and there is a place and time for everything. While I am proud to have been an active part of this industry, my life has evolved in many ways and I wear many hats today.
My involvement in Reliance Entertainment, Dreamworks and the Mumbai Film Festival does, of course, keep me close to the film industry. I’m really not looking for a role more active than that. Other than that, my other initiatives — the Kokilaben Hospital, Harmony for Silvers Foundation and Harmony Art — are also extremely dear to me.
You said previously that your “roots lie in the film industry”.
Yes, my roots do lie in this vibrant industry. And they have only been strengthened with ventures like Reliance Entertainment, Dreamworks and IM Global. Thus, it has been a natural step and a source of pride to guide this festival in a bid to support our film fraternity, celebrate our cinematic heritage and salute excellence in cinema.
What do you feel have been the achievements of the Indian film industry?
For me, the best part is that Indian cinema, while it continues to entertain, also informs us; it reflects our myriad realities as a country, our diverse life experiences and histories, impelling us to hold a mirror to ourselves. Thus, Indian cinema can be both a reflection of popular culture and its strongest critic. That, to me, is remarkable. And the world is sitting up and taking notice.
One hundred years is obviously a very significant milestone. The journey is full of achievements, magic moments so to speak in terms of scripts, cinematography, acting... all the minutiae of the filmmaking process. To detail each one would be impossible. However, I can certainly say that the evolution over the past 100 years has been tremendous — in terms of our stories and the technical expertise with which we tell them.
Can you recommend a few films from this year’s MFF line-up?
The most delightful aspect about the language of cinema is that it speaks to each of us in different ways — it is a purely subjective experience. Still, the Mumbai Film Festival offers such a variety of world cinema that every viewer would be spoilt for choice. My personal recommendations would include Silver Linings Playbook, The Angels’ Share, The Sapphires, The Hunt, Amour, Ship of Theseus, and Another Woman’s Life from the World Cinema section; and from the Restored Classics and Celebration of Italian Cinema section, The Leopard and Once Upon A Time in America. Another highlight is the unique presentation of silent films accompanied by a live orchestra to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema.
Film enthusiasts are glad about the move to NCPA. Is the festival growing as per your expectations?
Yes. It has carved its own niche on the global calendar; the move to NCPA is another step in its evolution as a world-class event. It is heartening to see that Mumbai has embraced it wholeheartedly. Our (Reliance Group) association with the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) has given the city an international-class event that the entire country can be proud of. Our aim has always been constant: to bring the choicest world cinema to the country, and showcase India’s best to the world. And I believe the festival is now able to achieve this.
Does your family share your passion for films?
Yes, we enjoy cinema and as individuals we have very diverse tastes in films, both Indian and international. Yet, we do try to catch films together whenever possible.
The must-watch list
Don’t miss these films at the Mumbai Film Fest, says film critic Rashid Irani
Director: Leos Carax
when and where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, Monday, 3.30 pm; Cinemax Versova Screen 2, Thursday, 12.30 noon
A few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, who is, in turn, captain of an industry, assassin, family man...
Valley Of Saints
Director: Musa Syeed
when and where: Inox Screen 5, Wednesday, 12 noon; Cinemax Sion Screen 1, Thursday, 12.30 noon
War and poverty force a tourist boatman to run away from Kashmir with his best friend, but a military crackdown derails their escape.
Director: Alain Gomis
when and where: Inox Screen 3, Monday, 12.30 noon
Cinemax Sion Screen 2, Wednesday, 10.15 am
Though he is healthy, Satché believes that he’ll die today. He stumbles upon his final moments with fear, but also with joy.
Director: Fien Troch
when and where: Inox Screen 2, Saturday, 12.45 noon; Cinemax Sion Screen 1, Sunday, 3.30 pm
Abandoned by his dad and after the death of his mother, Kid and his brother have to move in with their uncle.
The Leopard (1963)
Director: Luchino Visconti
when and where: Liberty, Friday, 12 noon
The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860s Sicily.
Director: Rodrigo Plá
when and where: Inox Screen 1, Saturday, 3.30 pm Cinemax Versova Screen 2, Monday, 10 am
An overworked and underpaid forty-something mother of three is driven to abandon her feeble father so that she can take better care of her children.
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho
when and where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, Tuesday, 3.30 pm; Cinemax Sion Screen 1, Wednesday, 5.30 pm
Life in a middle-class neighbourhood in present day Recife, Brazil, takes an unexpected turn after the arrival of an independent private security firm.
Director: Julian Pölsler
when and where: Inox Screen 1, Sunday, 3.30 pm Cinemax Versova Screen 2, Tuesday, 5.30 pm
On a trip to a hunting lodge, a woman wakes up in a cottage and finds herself enclosed by a transparent wall behind which there seems to be no life.
Illustrious Corpses (Cadaveri Eccellenti) (1976)
Director: Francesco Rosi
when and where: Liberty, Monday, 6 pm
While investigating the murders of supreme court judges, a detective discovers a political complot about the Italian Communist Party.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Director: Alison Klayman
when and where: Inox Screen 3, Saturday, 12.30 pm
The documentary chronicles the life of artist and activist Ai Weiwei. As he prepares for a series of exhibitions, he gets into clashes with the Chinese government.
FAQs for MFF
Does it start today or tomorrow?
It officially starts today with the opening film. But the bulk
screenings begin from Friday.
I missed registering online.
You can register on the spot at NCPA and Cinemax Versova from 11 am to 7am.
Can I attend the opening film event with my delegate pass?
No. It’s an invite only event.
Do I get an assured seat at screenings if I have my pass?
Having a delegate pass does not translate into confirmed booked seats. Entry is on first come, first served basis. For popular films, people start queuing up two to three hours in advance.
Will all the films be subtitled?
Yes (as irritating as that maybe for non-foreign language films).
Can I meet the directors of the films that are being screened?
Some directors will be present at their screenings. They are usually open to discussing the films after the viewing.
Will my delegate pass be valid at all the venues?