I have been attending MAMI since 2006, it is an annual ritual for film lovers in Bombay. This festival has grown, but not in the way one would have liked it. This year one month before the fest opened, news report came that fest would not happen as Reliance was not renewing the contract.
Well the organizers knew from last October that the contract was over, yet they sat and did nothing. Moreover look at the audacity of the organizers who could not even come with an official press release but leaked the news via news report. We need to know why Reliance backed out from the fest. Is it because they felt they ROI was not great or that they felt the funds were being not used properly?
Then came crowd funding, which was not even an idea of the organisers, but trust the organisers to mess it up again, they were accepting only 10,000 INR minimum as contribution, behaving similar to hooligans who come during every festival and ask us to pay minimum of 1000 rupees ranging from Ganesh festival to Dussehra. Then the organisers reduced the amount to 5000 realising their folly.
Just when you thought the organisers have learnt from past lessons and became professional, we got to learn about their unprofessionalism. They removed Liberty theatre from the list of venues, without even informing the management of the venue.
The organisers have to realise that Andheri is not the heart of Mumbai, it is difficult for someone living in Ambarnath or Karjat to travel all the way to Andheri as it is cumbersome. SOBO thus is a better place. Or the organisers can rename the fest as North Bombay Film Festival.
Why did not organisers tie up with various colleges which have film clubs and auditoriums where films could be screened? Film Division of India does that for their film fest. Colleges like MET (Bandra), Somaiya (Vidyavihar), Ruia (Dadar) have excellent film screening audis and the latter two even have a film club.
Every year there have been murmurs about how the selection process for Dimensions is not transparent. It may be true or false, I cannot vouch for that. One rule of Dimensions is that the short film should not have been screened anywhere else before MAMI, but one of this year’s selected short films, Selfie was screened already at Manatarang, Mental Health Film Festival which was even highlighted by an author of this site, yet the people handling the MAMI twitter handle did not respond in return as to why the rules were changed for one film.
While MAMI bestows lifetime achievement award (Indian) to actors like Waheeda Rehman (2012) Kamal Hassan (2013) and Helen (2014), how about honoring directors, cinematographers and editors? With due respect to Helen, I can give at least ten names who have contributed to Indian cinema more than Helen and deserved the award. Also it is strange that you give lifetime achievement award and then do not show a single movie of that person in the fest.
What were the organisers thinking when they had a session with legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve in which they had Deepika Padukone? I mean let us cater to the real audience who want to hear from Catherine and not Deepika.
What was it with Bollywood stars presenting films, what was the logic behind that? I understand a filmmaker presenting his film, or actor or technician who has worked in that film. Here the only qualification was you need to be buddies with the management, or else what would explain Jahan Singh Bakhsi, who works in social media presenting a film?
Let me come to the Imran Khan incident, the audience did not actually boo him contrary to reports which has been fed by the organisers. The previous film did not have subtitles and the show was cancelled. Imran Khan was talking with Nikhil Advani and Vishal Bhardwaj, the show was getting delayed, when someone from audience shouted “We are here to watch movies and not to party”, Imran Khan responded that he was ready but the organizers were missing and that he did not have a clue what to do, which is testimony to the fact that organizers not only did not care about the valuable time of patrons and also the time of the guests or actors who were there to support them, again showing the recklessness and unprofessional attitude of MAMI organizers. But then MAMI organizers started to write blogs about how audience booed Imran which was not the case, rather the patrons were angry at the organizers.
Ticketing fiasco continued even during this year, any organisation in order to succeed has to take criticism and feedback in its stride but that’s not the case with the organizers of MAMI. For starters they have to listen, I am all fine with ticketless booking, but what about people who do not use mobile, should they not attend the fest or will MAMI provide them with mobiles? What if a person deletes the SMS, he has to login into site and click on send SMS button again, considering the organisers at MAMI do not think free WIFI should be provided and poor reception of internet at the venue makes this an even more cumbersome process.
And if you thought you could book tickets for whole week at one go, no it was not possible, the organizers think that after watching 5 movies in the day, you should stay awake till midnight and book tickets for later, clearly the convenience for patrons is not on the priority list of MAMI.
If a person confirms a ticket, and changes his/her mind later then he/she cannot cancel his or her ticket. Another flaw – suppose I book a ticket for say movie X on Friday, but due to some reason I could not watch the movie on Friday, I cannot book the ticket for Saturday for the same movie. Why can’t they tie up with Book My Show like Jagran Film Festival did and ensure smooth functioning of the fest? Behold even if I book ticket, I have to reach ten minutes early or else my seat is not assured, let us take an example, I have booked a ticket for 3 PM which ends at 4.55 and next show is at 5 PM, do the organisers at MAMI think I should skip previous movie’s climax and stand in the line for the next movie in spite of booking?
It seems MAMI organizers did not care for the lives of patrons or how could one explain people being allowed to watch movie while sitting on the aisle, this is complete disregard for the rules of Maharashtra Gov.the Fire department and lives of patrons.
This year also marks one of the worst programming and scheduling of movies, or what else would explain Coffee Bloom being screened three times, or was it due to that fact that Director Manu had worked with one of the members of management for a film called Pehla Sitara? Similarly why would you screen Nymphomaniac volume 2 before Nymphomaniac volume 1 (at Cinemax Versova)?
While MAMI was sucking up to say how Bollywood was important for the fest, the way they handled director Mini Padma’s screening of Thanal Thedunna Bhoomi (Earth Seeking Shades) was despicable to say the least. Mini who is 8 months pregnant travelled to Bombay to share her experience and interact with audiences. But to her horror during the Q&A the mike was not working, the organisers of MAMI were absent, when one of the crew members tried to contact a female organizer let’s name her N, her sms was she had left for home, great way to treat filmmakers.
MAMI is the new Filmfare awards, I do not know why every year only one Indian film is selected in International Competition, is it some kind of reservation or do the organizers think more than one film cannot be included in International Competition. Why was Killa which had won award in a prestigious international fest like Berlin not selected in IC? On the other hand we had a film which has failed crowd funding, which received lukewarm response being awarded, or maybe it has due to with his proximity with organisers.
Also a word on what the panel members think beyond Bollywood, a screenplay writer who rewrote On the Waterfront is not someone we should celebrate, how about inviting M.T.Vasudevan Nair or K.Bhagyaraj next time?
Why was Parinda selected, can somebody explain or was it due to the fact that it was one of VVC’s conditions while contributing for the revival of the fest? Why were not films like Kireedam, Rudraveena, Oru Vadakan Veeragatha which were much more path breaking not showed in the fest even though these films were celebrating 25 years.
Frankly the best film fest in this country is IFFK, and the star of the fest is Adoor and not Mohanlal or Mammotty, guess MAMI needs to learn from them, otherwise this will be another festival which will deteriorate even more and youngsters will lose interest. It is up to us to save the fest and make organisers of MAMI more accountable, if they can’t then another festival will take its place and to an extent Jagran has already done that.
Disclaimer- This is a guest post and only reflects the views of the author and not that of MAM.