Eyes on the Big Screen

A film festival at a Mumbai museum shows changes in Indian cinema

Written by Pooja Pillai | Updated: January 12, 2018 10:04 pm
mukti bhawan A still from Mukti Bhawan.

No one can deny that a change is sweeping through Indian cinema. Film industries across the country — fueled by fresh blood and new technologies — are not only challenging stale notions about what kind of stories deserve to be told on the big screen, they’re also challenging old ways of making movies and introducing more diverse points of view. To put this in the context of larger changes in India and the world, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, is hosting a three-day film festival called “India and the World: The Changing Narrative”, over the course of which films such as Newton, Mukti Bhawan, Ajji, Lagaan, and A Death in the Gunj will be screened.

The festival opens this evening at 5 pm with an address by filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. Writer Anuraadha Tewari, who has conceived and curated the event, says that the first edition of the festival has been organised to complement the ongoing exhibition, “India and the World: A History in Nine Chapters”. “The exhibition is unique because it looks at Indian history in relation to the rest of the world. That is also how we should be looking at Indian films now, because many of those being made now are not just part of a larger national movement, but are also in conversation with cinema on the global level,” she says. While a museum may seem like a surprising choice of venue for a film festival, Tewari explains that the idea is to emphasise the importance of looking at cinema as part of a larger cultural heritage that needs to be examined and preserved. “We as a country have a bad record when it comes to archiving films, and that needs to change,” she says. While the first edition of the festival is dominated by Hindi films — the only exception is the Marathi film Ajji — Tewari hopes to go wider with future iterations.

In fact, encouraging productive conversations around cinema is an important part of the festival agenda and at the end of each screening, Tewari will be engaging the audience in a discussion. Each film will also be introduced by someone associated with it, and the final day of the festival will have a panel discussion featuring actor and filmmaker Konkona Sen Sharma, filmmaker and writer Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, writer and producer Siddharth Anand Kumar and screenwriter and lyricist Niranjan Iyengar.

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