The 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival opened in Dubai on Wednesday with a gala Red Carpet ceremony that was followed by the presentation of Lifetime Achievement awards to India’s legendary Naseeruddin Shah and the great French actor, Catherine Deneuve.
Shah -- who can rightfully claim his place as one of the first actors of the Indian New Wave that began in 1969 -- regaled the audience with a humorous quip. “I first came to Dubai in 1980, when there was more sand there than buildings, for a shoot. We stayed in the only decent hotel then in Sharjah (close to Dubai) for 45 days. And in those 45 days, Indian cinema being Indian cinema, we managed to complete one scene!”
Watch the trailer of Room here:
As the audience broke into loud laughter, Naseer said that although a lifetime achievement award usually signalled the end of one’s career (”Well, it is time for goodbye, you may take this award and go), he was in no mood to call it quits. “I shall return to Dubai after 20 years for one more lifetime award,” he added in a wonderful spirit that conveyed never say die.
After Deneuve was honoured, nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay, who plays a five-year-old boy in the opening movie, Room, was introduced on stage. Nominated as a Best Supporting Actor for the Screen Actors Guild Award, Tremblay surprised all of us with the consummate ease with which he spoke.”This is a very exciting time for me because this is a very fun place, Dubai. Lots of people here are nice and it’s super warm,” the little lad said.
Tremblay is just wonderful in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room -- based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 best- selling novel with the same title. Imprisoned in a small windowless shed along with his young mother (essayed by Brie Larson) by a man who tricks and rapes her, Jack has never known the world outside. His only human contact is his mother, and when the rapist arrives every week to hand over supplies and molest the woman -- a ritual he has followed for seven years -- Jack is shuttered inside a cupboard.
In an extremely tragic and moving account Abrahamson shows us how the woman takes care of Jack’s every need. She plays with him, reads for him, exercises with him and even bakes him a birthday cake -- all the time stoically bearing the humiliation of being physically abused and the torture of incarceration. Till one fine morning, she decides to escape and hatches a plan whose hero is Jack.
Room is also a powerful commentary of how society views a child born out of rape, and here in this case, one is not even talking about a child’s pain of having to cope with a world that it is thrust into all of a sudden.
Tremblay is just marvellous as the kid shocked one fine morning to find himself out in the big bad world with the enormous responsibility of having to play the heroic saviour.
The script, written by Donoghue, has no false note at all, and the act of escape is handled with such authenticity that its looks entirely plausible. And, it could have been no mean task for Abrahamson to direct a boy as young as Tremblay in a way that he superbly portrays myriad emotions. He appears such a natural.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Dubai International Film Festival.)