You took over as the chairperson of Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) last year, when it was on the verge of cancelling the film festival due to a financial crisis. How has the journey been so far?
Some time before the crisis struck, Shyam Benegal had asked me to come on board. However, I had no idea about the financial crisis till the alarm bells were sounded. Today, we have found partners in Jio and Star. This makes us hopeful of putting together a more holistic and meaningful cinema experience at the Jio MAMI 2015. When the mandate of MAMI was created in 1997, it was more of a cultural collective of people for the encouragement and advancement of cinema. Today, we have goals which are more long-term.
Since you have found sponsors, is all your energy now focused on putting together good content?
We are focusing on that as well as how to make the festival relevant for the city. We wish to draw more people. There are a number of interesting ideas, such as outdoor screenings and activities for the public. We have been talking to the state government regarding this.
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What other tasks have you taken up as the chairperson of MAMI?
The job of chairperson was never well-defined. One saw it as the role of making sure that MAMI achieves its mandates and goals. Since I am very hands-on, I am not limiting my role to just being an advisory or administrator. We have reworked the festival schedule. There are no big changes, but we have tried to streamline it.
Are you working towards achieving an international stature for the festival?
First, it has to work professionally for us in our own city — we have to be relevant to our audiences and filmmakers. Also, we have to maintain a certain standard. There is a great opportunity for Indian filmmakers to reach out to the domestic and international audience, through sales agents and distributors.
One of the main festival grouses has been the film fraternity’s indifference. Has that changed now?
The fact that so many people have come forward to be part of the MAMI board shows their interest. I am optimistic of them playing a bigger part in the festival. The industry does not see a direct advantage of having the festival. But that’s really short-sighted.
Do all these responsibilities allow you time to work on your next movie?
Writing my next film has been difficult, especially with a growing child and my commitment at Aamir Khan Productions (AKP). I have not found a writer with whom I connect enough, so that we can co-write. The only person I can think of is Anand Gandhi, director of Ship of Theseus. Still, I am optimistic. I should have something soon.
With so much happening, do you manage to spend enough time with Azad?
I am fortunate that I don’t have fixed working hours. I try to spend as much time as possible with Azad, who is three and a half years old now.
How involved are you in AKP?
I was not involved much with Satyamev Jayate, as Azad was quite small then. Since Aamir is acting in Dangal, he won’t be able to handle production. So, I have taken on production full-time. Dangal is in the pre-production stage, while another untitled, directed by Advait Chandan, is scheduled to be shot next year.
Is it true that you are concerned about Aamir Khan putting on weight for Dangal?
I am concerned about his health, as putting on weight rapidly can be harmful. He needs to shed kilos later, for the same film. But he is being very careful about it and there are doctors who are supervising the whole process.