In these hard times, the world over when less and less money is available for the arts, the Mumbai Film Festival has clinched its title sponsor, Reliance Jio Infocomm, an-about-to-be-launched company that will deal with 4G network. Reliance Jio is part of the Mukesh Ambani group.
Star India will be the associate sponsor.
In 2014, Anil Ambani's Reliance Entertainment, the festival's main funding agency, withdrew support, leaving the event in a lurch. Then headed by Srinivasan Narayan, the festival had to go for crowd funding (with several Bollywood actors chipping in). The festival did happen all right, but the damage had been done. Narayan quit, and Anupama Chopra, journalist and wife of Bollywood director-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, took over.
"We are delighted to announce that the Mumbai Film Festival has found its patrons. Reliance Jio and Star Network who see the rightful potential have joined hands with us to take the festival to the next level," Kiran Rao, Aamir Khan's wife and Chairperson of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (which organises the festival), said in a media note.
"Films are a celebration of life -- they add to life joy and colour; they educate us, provoke us and make us think; they make us laugh. Films influence our own lives in many ways. Jio is Reliance's next generation business and also a celebration of life. It is ushering in the digital age and is bringing fast internet services to all of India," Nita Ambani, founder and chairperson, Reliance Foundation, averred.
Unveiling the new brand identity for the 17th edition of the festival, its director, Chopra, said: "Eighteen years ago, stalwarts of Indian cinema, including Hrishikesh Mukherji and Shyam Benegal, created a movie festival for Mumbai. It gives me great pride and joy to carry forward the MAMI baton. It's an enormous responsibility, but we have enormous support. We hope to create an event that the city can be proud of."
Fears are now being raised that the festival -- which will run from October 29 to November 5 -- may become a platform for Bollywood cinema. Similar apprehensions were heard when the International Film Festival of India moved to Panaji several years ago. Goa's proximity to Mumbai was cited as an important reason for such fears, but with the Mumbai Film Festival happening in the city itself, the apprehensions seem even more real.