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Home / Art and Culture / Japanese Film Festival 2020 is a hit with Mumbaikars

Japanese Film Festival 2020 is a hit with Mumbaikars

A festival dedicated to Japanese contemporary films strikes a unique bond with Indian cinema-goers

art-and-culture Updated: Jan 24, 2020 19:28 IST
Yoshita Rao
Yoshita Rao
A still from the movie Weathering With You
A still from the movie Weathering With You(Photo: ©2019 Weathering With You Film Partners)

The night was abuzz outside PVR Icon in Andheri West, as crowds lined up to be seated inside. We were nearly heartbroken as our tedious travel to reach the cinema, even half an hour before the scheduled movie time, would be in vain as the security guard announced, “houseful”. As two seats opened up, we pushed past the crowd and the security guard muttered, “Aap naseeb wale ho (you’re the lucky ones)”.

The elderly gent was not wrong as the third edition of the Japanese Film Festival in Mumbai saw the auditorium receive a houseful every other night. Youth, among others, flocked to the cinema, especially for thriller and horror narratives. “The opening weekend of the festival (which began on January 17 in Mumbai) garnered over 2,500 footfall for a total of 11 shows,” says Kaoru Miyamoto, the director-general of Japan Foundation, New Delhi. As the tickets are free of cost, seating for the 10-day fest is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The festival, which began in India in September 2019 and moved from city to city, aims to “allow Indian film audiences an insight into Japanese life” through its collection of contemporary and other films. The organisers are hopeful to lay the groundwork for future commercial releases of Japanese films in India, “just like the big Hollywood or domestic Indian films”. Kaoru says, “Japan and India have large film industries, and the commonality is that both the nations love watching films.”

A still from the movie Dance With Me
A still from the movie Dance With Me ( Photo: ©2019 DANCE WITH ME FILM PARTNERS )

However, Kaoru adds that subtitling is “always a challenging task”, as one has to communicate not simply in terms of the content but also “the sentimentality of dialogues from one culture to another”. But this did not deter the passionate fan-following of anime and Japanese films in the city.

Tokyo Ghoul, a dark fantasy film, written as a Manga series and later turned into a 12-episode anime series as well, disproves the fact that humans are on top of the food chain. Samiksha Shetty, 25, recalls standing outside the theatre for an hour to get priority seating. The movie, which showcases strong feminist ideologies and portrays women in powerful roles, was another houseful event at the fest. “Japanese movies are much more detailed than ours,” Samiksha says. An avid follower of Japanese films, she adds that she likes binging on the old series, Hana Yori Dango, about a girl who fights her bullies. Her younger brother, Samith Shetty, 22, says he likes Gintama — an anime about the life of a samurai, and Berserk, which is set in a dark fantasy world. Both now await the screening of Your Name, the last show of the festival on January 26, which is another acclaimed “superhit”.

Akhil Ashoaan, 22, says, “I like Japanese movies, traditions and cultures, and have started learning the language as well”. Perhaps then, the motive of this film fest stands complete as one of the reasons for hosting the event was to strike a resemblance in the cultures. “We wanted Indian audiences to find resonance with the lives of the Japanese, and how our lives are intricately connected, despite our varying differences,” Kaoru signs off.