Cold War

The Best Director award winner at Cannes 2018, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War is an epic love saga, in a 4:3 aspect ratio, where a man and a woman begin a tumultuous relationship in the ruins of post world war Poland. The film, as revealed in the end, is inspired and an ode to Pawlikowski’s parents and their love story. For me, this is Pawlikowski’s version of La La Land, and a triumphantly stronger version of it where the couple goes through 15 years of Cold War where they not only cross geographical territories, but also musical ones. Watching this at Regal, moved me into a Sahir Ludhyanvi mood. 

In 1949, while conducting auditions for a Polish folk troupe, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) is smitten by Zula (Joanna Kulig, earlier seen in Pawlikowski’s stunning Oscar winner Ida), a village girl who could sing extremely well, and is unapologetic in acknowledging her involvement in her father’s murder too. Soon, the ensemble is formed, with Wiktor helming it, and a romance kickstarts,  helmed by Zula’s temperament. This temperamental couple (almost like America and Russia, although more romantically involved) in the cold backdrop, dance their way through this melancholic ballad across thousands of nights, meeting and separating from each other in Berlin, Yugoslavia, and even, Paris. 

The narrative shuffles from highs and low of the relationships, like the tides of the sea, into a melancholic end, almost like the sad ballad which moves from polish folk to French jazz, ultimately ending into a defeating silence. At just 89 minutes, Pawlikowski is completely in control of this epic, where the music allows poetic contemplation upon the carefully designed frames.

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Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Bi Gan gives a surreally hypnotic trip, which is a treat to watch, and an equally amusing trip to write about. Divided into two parts, this film’s first half is in 2D, exploring in no linear fashion, the loss and sadness of the protagonist; the second half of the film is a dreamy sequence, shot in a single take, and to be viewed in 3D. Watching this film is like entering into a local jadugar’s tent, you know everything is unreal, but you are still amazed at the countless possibilities. 

In the first half of the film, I was suspended into a semi lull stage, almost hypnotically following Wong Kar Wai styled sequences between the protagonist and the woman. These stylish sequences are often cut to show us the protagonist pondering poetically over life. Such atmospheric blend is sure to put one into drowsy state, and just when my eyes had completely surrendered to the protagonist, he entered a porn theatre and asked me to wear my 3D glasses with him, leading me into an almost hour long sequence. This part, shot in a surreal fashion, is a single take where the protagonist goes through phenomenal spaces like an old hallway of pool tables, a rustic room of slot machines, and an old touring karaoke van setup. One of the most beautiful portions of this long take is the bizarrely slow ropeway sequence which gives us a wider understanding of the space. Bi Gan shows signs of becoming an auteur, because this plotless film is so ambitious and yet strange. For instance, another sequence of the second half has a kid who promises to help the protagonist only if he can defeat him in Ping Pong -the ping pong game ends in a conversation on memories and time, which is extremely elusive.

Watching this film is a hallucinating experience, I would be unapologetic in saying that this was almost like lucid dreaming. Accompanied by a mesmerising cinematography and mesmerising soundscape, Long Day’s Journey into Night makes every other film playing at Mumbai Film Festival fall short in ambition and execution. However, everything at the end is only transitory.

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Non-Fiction

I am not amongst those who can resist an Oliver Assayas film, especially if it also happens to star the greatest of all time Juliette Binoche. Oliver Assayas has been one of the popular favourites at MAMI, with both Clouds of Sils Maria, and Personal Shopper receiving brilliant response. These earlier films were atmospheric thrillers which tackled contemporary themes, however, his latest Non-Fiction is like a warm evening embrace for writers and their contemporary issues. The mehfil of conversations which the lead characters create is a delightful watch.

Alain and Leonard, a writer and a publisher, are overwhelmed by the radical digitalisation of the publishing world. Deaf to the desires of their wives, they struggle to find their place in a society whose locks they can no longer key into. Twitter and Instagram seem to be new literary platforms, and books are no longer in vogue, however e-books are selling like pancakes, and audiobooks recited by celebrity stars are even more in demand. All the four characters are dealing with the change in times, in their own particular manner. They however, share their frustration while hustling through these changes. 

Using dialogues as verbal duels; references of Michael Haneke, Bergman, and even, Star Wars; and the gorgeous performance of Juliette Binoche; Oliver Assayas delivers a scintillating and thought provokingly beautiful Non-Fiction, which although simple in treatment, is ambitious in digging undiscovered depths of philosophy. Almost like a Woody Allen dialogue based tango, Non-Fiction treats heavy questions in a breezy manner, resulting into a sweet, funny, philosophical, and cheerful drama. It is easy to fall short of words while describing Non-Fiction, because all the lines in Non-Fiction are such literary gems, you might have to watch it twice to get the eloquent delight created here.

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Harsh Desai

Rafiki
Kenya’s brave film ‘Rafiki’ reminds us, how the struggles in the ghettos, across the world are the same. They use even the smallest speck of dust to convert it into a burst of bubble gum colours. To be pulsing with colour, even when daily struggles in the ghetto keep getting tougher, is such a solid statement.

Despite the political rivalry between their families, Kena and Ziki resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blooms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety. We have seen such films before, however, the Afro-pop visuals and the mesmerising soundscape, makes the Nairobian neighbourhood look like a garden blooming with flowers, buzzing with life beings, and Kena and Ziki, like lost bees, finding each other. However, this is no garden, there is no privacy here, all the clothes are strung between the apartments, everyone knows what’s happening behind closed doors. Kena hangs out with Blacksta at the local cafe but is strongly attracted towards Ziki, who happens to belong the family of her father’s political rival.

Kena’s exploration of her sexuality while the church, the neighbourhood, her mother, and, even her liberal minded father, are against her accepting this queer identity is worth cheering for. However, amidst all this chaos, in an abandoned camper van, Kena and Ziki spend time with each other, creating a peaceful, pure, and silent space where some of the best shot sexually tense moments happen. It is hard to believe that this is Wanuri Kahiu’s first attempt, because he seems to be in complete control of this film, steering the narrative with such great choice of visuals.

Some moments in the film are raw, gritty, and pure, allowing the viewers to get nostalgic about the first time they felt someone’s touch. To jump between socio-political scenes which are melodramatic and unoriginal, and intersperse them with fleetingly beautiful moments between Kena and Ziki, are definitely a strong achievement of the film. To those who have felt love or pain (both are equally beautiful and important), a dialogue in the film, “I wish we could go to a place where we could feel real” will hit you right where it hurts.

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One Cut of the Dead
There are so many innovative films already made in the zombie comedy space, one might easily feel, every possible plot in the genre has been easily exhausted. However, Shinichiro Ueda brings a fresh revival to this sub-genre, just like how Edgar Wright did, with ‘Shaun of the Dead’ a few years ago. And while doing this, in all sincerity, we get a terrific Japanese film which does not have a single dull moment, from the word go. We have always known that film-making can be chaotic, however, making a single take zombie comedy is an absolute madness.

There are two parts to the film, one is a low budget long take zombie comedy about a filmmaker trying to make a zombie comedy (Yes! Meta Stuff), and the other one is the entire madness about how the film came to be made. A frustrated director Higurashi who aspires for a stronger connection with his daughter, and has a wife who had to stop acting as she makes her role too seriously and ends up method acting newer unscripted parts. To make matters worst for him, Higurashi is given a makeshift team of actors and crew, forming a sort of a filmmaking unit which can be easily compared to Bhuvan’s cricket team in Lagaan. And just like in the latter, the screening venue of One Cut of the Dead also transformed into an euphoric stadium, cheering and clapping at every alternate scene upon the earnestness of Higurashi’s unit and the resulting madness. The portions involving Higurashi’s wife who takes up the role of the make up person in the film at the last minute, are an absolute riot.

The film derives it’s authenticity not from the crazy plot, or from the genius single take, but it derives the same from brilliantly carved characters, played by little known actors, who are misfits bound to make mistakes, and the fact that they still survive and make their film is what makes the film an absolute masterpiece in this sub-genre. This is one of my best comedy movie viewing experience in years. On other thoughts, this film is not just a zombie comedy, it is an ultimate ode to the madness, efforts, and love which goes behind making a film. Every film is like giving birth to a new baby, and it is crazier when the baby is a zombie comedy.

There is another show at PVR Mulund Audi 6 on 31st October at 1930 Hours.

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Border
Yorgos Lanthimos meets David Cronenberg in this mind bending debut feature from Sweden, which also happens to be Sweden’s official Oscar entry. The protagonist, customs officer Tina can sniff guilt, shame, and other such feelings out of anyone who is hiding something. As a viewer, all you can sniff for a long time is just the weirdness. However, this weirdness is not abstract, it’s indeed thrilling, and gives you complete viewing satisfaction towards the end. This offbeat work shocks you in the most surreal and elegant manner possible.

Tina’s extraordinary ability to sniff things at the customs, is challenged, when Yore, a strangely similar and suspicious looking person, arrives at the customs. Tina is suspicious, but finds nothing, and ends up developing a strange fondness towards Yore. Their fondness evolves over time and they are in a relationship, which is raw, intense, and, emotional. However, the film never stops focusing upon developing Tina’s character arc, and then it slowly becomes wow but what the fuck film!

Once into the film, the meticulous detailing and layers, reveal itself with such elegance, that it makes you question larger concepts through this abstract beauty which is shot beautifully, in a wooden house of a secluded forest. The entire landscape plays an essential character in the film giving us a great visual and mental treat.

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Harsh Desai

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I have loved Zohaib Kazi’s work for a while now and that is why I was over the moon to hear that he is going to be on the driving seat for season 11. He has anyway been associated till season 6. The buzz started with CokeStudio Explorer that featured 4 songs with varied artists and barring the last song, everything felt nice, solid and quite trippy. After explorer ended, curtain was raised on the season opener song and in came Hum Dekhenge. I loved it then and I love it now. The artist line up was just way too tempting and too good to be true. Anyway, I won’t go on and on episode-wise as you can find it here. Our picks from this season are as under:

Baalkada The way this song started made me soar like an airplane. Naghma & Lucky were fantastic! Jimmy Khan’s presence works like a balm. The gamut of genres that CokeStudio Pakistan has touched should be a case study to those who ‘do music’ in our country as well. We need to just look at the arc of emotions CokeStudio Pakistan has chosen. Arey mujhse pooch lo yaar, I will make an excel sheet for you containing those details and I will lend my time for free to you. At least touch some other genres, Dear Indian music movements!?

Rap hai sara -. The way this song has been done, it has raised the swag factor of CokeStudio in multiples. All the boys ran a riot in the studio. I last smirked at someone’s entry when Bohemia entered the studio in ‘Kandyari dhal Geet’. Young desi has bettered it. If this song was a part of a concert in a big stadium, this song would have EVERYONE take their shirts off and throw them on the stage. Lyari underground is a revealation and I loved their part as well. Confession – I prefer watching this song that hearing it and trust me, I have watched it way too much, super super stuff! (ande waala burger reference here)

Rashamama – Zarsanga makes a dashing entry to the studio and aided with Khumariyaan and a superb Babar ali khanna, she holds your attention and makes you sway with the absolute magical track. Yet another song that widens the arc of the genres which CokeStudio Pakistan explores with every passing season. Zarsanga is plain brilliance on display and her woi allah! calls are a hoot! The song then pauses and what is possibly the best moment in asserting Cokestudio Pakistan’s swag (watch how the camera pans, the music that accompanies the angle from roughly at 3:07 mins to 3:14 mins to know what I mean), Gul Panra gives her interpretation of the song. Her part is more contemporary and filled with modern arrangement which doesn’t feel bad (or wrong) either.

Nami danamChand tara orchestra, under the guidance of Omran Shafique gave us this gem. There was too much happening in terms of lighting and not in a good way. Barring that, this song soared. They should have named the song Raqs-e-bismil. I have a positive bias to Chand tara orchestra because of their name and sound. Before this season, I didn’t know about them. It is very very good to see old cokestudio musicians take the lead in inducting new artists. Like Babar has done in last few songs and my heartthrob Omran has done here…What a fantastic, liberating song! Me raqsam Me raqsam…indeed

Jind mahiya – A slow, almost reggae like pace mixed with obvious habibi influence is what catches your attention from the first second in the song. Shuja Haider’s composition is as free flowing as his singing and even though in the BTS video, he insisted it is a chichora song, the song comes across as adorable and way too catchy. This is like ‘rockstar’ without self deprecating tone and peppered with innocence. This is exactly the kind of execution that I was waiting for since the season started. The houseband played up perfectly and there was nothing over the top and surprisingly, the song sounds very well produced. Lest I forget, the dholak play from Babar added just the right amount of nasha. Easily, the first song of the season that I loved without any ‘if’ or ‘but’. Thumbs up!

Ya QurbanKhumariyaan boys made me go mad. I absolutely loved what they have done here. The song, the dance, the vibe, the happiness that dripped from their soul via their song and instruments…this is vintage CokeStudio Pakistan, this is what we wait for when CokeStudio Pakistan announces a new season. You can make half talented musicians stand and ‘fuse’ their work like there is no tomorrow, but it takes a special khaalis presentation like this to blow your mind away. How about those maddening whistles? Everything, just about everything is top notch here. Not a note wrong, excellently done boys! Fun bit – check out the Game of Thrones opening credits done by the boys here – Game of Thrones Main Theme (Cover) by Khumariyaan

Balaghal ula Be Kamalihi – When she sings, Lord hears. Simple. These are Gulzar’s words but ring in true everytime I see (holding both ears as I say her name) Her Highness Abida Parveen. There is really nothing that comes to mind when I try to analyse this song because this here is not a track, it is devotion finding its way to our souls. A magnificent presentation. Please explore it.

Wah jo kalaam – Penned by Asrar and along with him, Shamu Bai and Vishnu played a riot of colors and beauty in what is one of the best songs in all of 11 years of the studio in Pakistan. I have always had a bit of a problem with Shamu’s pitch but here, Asrar has used that to the track’s advantage. With zero accompaniment from the studio houseband, this beautiful song hits your core being like a bolt of lighting. Talking of Zero accompainment from houseband, I suspect Shamu bai was using her own Harmonium and Vishnu was using his own Dholak. The melodious strum and humming from Asrar in the beginning reminds you of all the good things that music and all of us have lost over the years. There seems to be zero innocence of ‘being’ these days in anything. For a moment, let us all just remind ourselves of this powerhouse called Asrar who has a lot that is yet to be exploited by the popular scene. Don’t you love his ‘wah wah’ in the song? A pucca performer. Do check his ‘Gaddiye’ as well, if you have time. I get a strong feeling that Vishnu will, in the years to come, make more appearances in the studio. What a brilliant command this lad has…especially the way he picked up Hyder hyder part. This is the song that, everytime when it ends, leaves me weeping. Kudos to the producers for letting this song be.

Luddi hai jamaalo – The studio always has an ace up its sleeves when it comes to re-imagining old film songs. I can’t say the same about non film songs and yes I am still sore with the wounds of Hawa Hawa. In Luddi Hai Jamalo the studio has shown how the old songs are to be touched up. The way they have added violins and the opening la la la is exactly what they should have touched up Hawa Hawa. Here, Humaira Arshad and Ali Sethi have done a decent job of sticking to the song yet adding their touch. I absolutely loved the way the sound has been managed, it sounds so fresh yet vintage. The last minute or so where the song really accelerates doesn’t feel out of sync or mood. I didn’t feel anything outstanding about Humaira’s part but I was blown away by Ali Sethi. Can this man do any wrong? I really don’t think so. If I were a ruler with a kingdom, I would have relinquished all to this man just for his ‘Howaan tathon paray Kyon mera dil daray, Chad kay duniya saari, Teray tay kyon waray’ part in the song. I am not kidding.

Aurangzeb – by Mughal-e-funk is quite an interesting track for the simple reason that it explores a genre within a genre. Presenting Aurangzeb‘s reign and conflicts via instrumental is totally a new way to present instrumental tracks. The houseband and especially Babar ali Khanna really came together to touch up Mughal-e-funk‘s exciting presentation in the studio. Excellent Sitar, Superlative Harmonium and a solid backup vocalist sound…what’s not to like? (I know, the lighting..! still…I liked this track)

Ko ko korina – I am from Lucknow and one of the reasons I love CokeStudio Pakistan is that they showcase the music from their region which I may not have come across earlier. Personally speaking, while growing up, I was more intrested in exploring Umar Sharif’s plays and swaying on Hawa Hawa than anything else. So when I saw CokeStudio reimagine what they have posted as ‘infamous’ Ko Ko Korina, I was hearing it for the first time. I know I will lose a lot of friends here but I didn’t find this song bad at all. I in fact liked how the studio, in a rare display of self control, conducted the song with the right amount of mischief and melody. No, I didn’t find Ahad Raza Mir or Momina Mustehsan out of tune. I would still say that Momina was struggling in Antras but largely lovely lovely song. I then went and checked the original song and well, I could still not get myself to dislike this re-imagination. I am just raving mad at the studio for what they did with Hawa Hawa. One might argue, that my grouse with Hawa Hawa‘s re-imagination is because unlike Ko Ko Korina, I have grown up with Hawa Hawa, so I am not as emotionally invested with Ko ko as I am with Hawa Hawa. I will disagree to that train of thought for the simple reason that Ko Ko Korina‘s re-imagination didn’t take any unneccesary turns and the pace and treatment was upbeat (what a lovely guitar – keyboard play by Rufus and Momo by the way!), Whereas the Hawa Hawa reimagination was half hearted, sounded dead on arrival and took that unnecessary tirbal turn which still haunts me at night. So there, that is my take. I liked Ko Ko Korina! Someone please join me and let us petition the studio to re-re-imagine Hawa Hawa?

In addition to the above:

  • Shikwa/Jawab e shikwa – was so good till Natasha baig’s part. To me she has been the find of the season. Still, the usually dependable Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad Qawwal put me off this time and I couldn’t bring myself to repeat the song just because of them and this applies to their self absorbed ‘piya ghar aaya’ as well. Sad.
  • Runaway – would have been much better with just Krewella.
  • I absolutely loved the first 3 mins of dil hai pakistani
  • I disliked the way Main iraada came together. That was cacophony and largely due to excessive artists and over the top audio mixing
  • I liked Dastan-e-moomal rano but couldn’t sit through the whole of it on repeated listening. I like the subtle presentation of the song.
  • Illallah was so good but was let down by poor lyrics and somehow ‘aaja piya tori yaad satave’ sounded like a mifit with the mood of the song. Hear the first 2 odd mins of the song though to see what this song could have been.
  • I disliked the uncertainity about ‘will this be a 3 song or 4 song episode’. Nope don’t play with that. Please.

Some of the best music memories that I have since the last 10 odd years are attributed to CokeStudio Pakistan. Some of the most aggressive views that have popped up in my head have been a result of poor imitation of CokeStudio 11 by other movements in and outside Pakistan, CokeStudio at MTV for one. What happens when the movement you have come to love starts showing signs of becoming a bad parody of itself? That is exactly what happened with the season 11 and it pains me to write this because in my books, even when CokeStudio Pakistan is bad, it is miles ahead of garbage that is masquerading as ‘music movement’ in and around the subcontinent. Make no mistake, it is not just Season 11 that has disappointed. The downward spiral has continued since Rohail has departed and the only exception to that has been the superbly Season 8. Though I would not write off Zohaib and Ali Hamza, I would like a little bit of ‘pause’ in the execution. Everything need not be over the top, extra experimental and please slow down those maddening lights. Lastly, please don’t play around with melody and defile it like you have done with Hawa Hawa this year. Ever.

Love from India

P.S. – Bhaga ke le jaunga Ali Sethi ko main ek din, dekhta reh jayea Pakistan aur dekhta reh jayega India. Yep.

P.S.2. – Please fire whoever has been in charge of audio mixing this season.

Image and video courtesy – CokeStudio.com.pk – You can download all songs for free from here.

Jafar Panahi’s 3 Faces

In Northwest Iran, the rural valleys have their own laws, much like the rest of the country. On a narrow mountain road, two cars cannot pass at the same time, and a honking duel decides who gets to go first. Such is Panahi’s work, with his sharp observation, resulting into socio-politically ripe metaphors and some delicate humour. Unlike his previous metafictional works in This is not a film, Closed Curtains, and Taxi; 3 Faces is more distant and tries to cover a larger canvas. However, Panahi’s work continues to remain pensive and his defiance seems to be getting stronger with every new film.

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A suicide video of Marziyeh (an aspiring young actress), leads Behnaaz (a popular actress, playing herself) and Panahi into the Iranian valleys, in search of the truth. The three women, Behnaaz, Marziyeh (playing herself), and, Shahrazade dominate and steer the narrative in a world dominated by men. The fact that we never see Shahrazade, acts like a fitting metaphorical tribute to all the women, especially the female actors in Iran, who are not valued in Iran – they are ’empty headed’ or ‘entertainers’.

The Kiarostami styled shots are probably the best shots in a Panahi film till date, almost as if Panahi has set Amin and his camera free in rebellion. The carefully crafted screenplay, with the dialogues, either dipped in humour, or in political subtext create an absolute winner. Although this is no match to Taxi, 3 Faces is still a powerful statement from Panahi, kindness and compassion even when his expression is beaten down to the ground. It would be apt to end my fanboy thoights on Panahi’s 3 Faces with a verse from Maya Angelou, which fits in so apt for Panahi and his work;

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Zhang Yimou’s Shadow

Zhang Yimou’s previous work was trashed away as a mere shadow of his three decade long filmography. However, Shadow is Zhang’s roaring return to form with only monochromic visuals.

The film description says that the film is set during the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280 A.D.), and features an exiled king and his people, who develop a plot to regain control of their land. The events are told from the points of view of the king, his sister, his commander, the women trapped in the royal palace and a common citizen. However, Zhang approaches this Chinese legend with sensuousness, silence, and style, to deliver us with a visually epic film. While achieving this, Zhang also pays a tribute to the beautiful Chinese art of Ink painting.

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Some of the elements, scene blocking, and visuals in the film are oddly satisfying and stunning, even making up for the not-so-satisfying character arcs -the Chinese zither reverberating in the palace hall, the palace hall painted in ink with peace sermons becoming the centre stage for violent fights, a splash of blood painting the monochrome red, and of course, the umbrellas. I have always been fascinated with the way filmmakers have used umbrellas as a device in action sequences, for case in point, Kamal Hassan using one in Anbe Sivam and Rajinikanth using one in Kaala. However, never has anyone used the umbrella better than Zhang, all the sequences involving the umbrella need to be seen to be believed, the visuals are purely stunning. A special mention to action designer Dee Dee who makes some of the most violent duels in the film look like a visual treat to watch. If you’re at the festival to watch something you have never seen before, Shadows needs to be on your list.

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters

A family tied by blood always shares a strong bond. Kore-eda however, observes and shows us otherwise. When it comes to relationship dramas, Kore-eda is a master craftsman and we see his craft in top form here. This bittersweet slice of life drama unfolds like magic, you can never anticipate what the next scene holds.

After one of their shoplifting exercises, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Every scene involving Osamu’s wife or the little girl are beyond magic. Osamu’s wife played by Sakura Ando (From Love Exposure) gives a great performance, her eyes revealing all her emotions effortlessly, making us reflect and ponder upon her questions including the strongest one, “Isn’t the bond stronger when you choose your own family?”

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This film offers an immersive portrait of a dysfunctional family of shoplifters where everyday banter seem like dialogues out of a beautiful novel. These lines and relationships slowly start growing into puzzle pieces waiting to blow you over in the final act. Kore-eda’s brilliance lies in his deep understanding and empathy towards the characters and the various shades and secrets which they carry, and these shades unfold in such effortless manner that you will never realise when the stakes for the final act were doubled.

Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book

How does one write about a film from late peirod Godard? Is this film even accessible for people who haven’t studied Godard? Maybe not. Although, his intentions in the film are very clear; to use old footage and visuals and layer it with his political commentary, sprinkling it with an absurd musical treatment. The result is another idiosyncratic Godard film, meant only for his devotees. Although, I enjoyed a segment which was about train travel and had some wonderful images of random flowers which bloom on railroads, which of course was a larger statement. Watch it only if you want to read Godard’s mind.

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Harsh Desai

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Sounds offensive no? But it’s a fact that you are acting like bhakts and here’s why.

Illogical
Do you know bhakts are supposed to be illogical? Shazia has rationally pointed out all the holes in your decision here so there isn’t much to say there. But your response? Well, it is stupider than Modi’s logic for climate change. (Look it up here ) We thought you wanted to open a conversation, your response shows you don’t even know where to begin. No communication, no valid reason presented to her. Why? Is it too much to ask you to think critically? If yes, then you are no better than bhakts and all the talk of independent cinema and artists voices is baloney. If no, then think.

Herd mentality
If you can think you will know you are jumping on a bandwagon without really standing up for anything. Just like bhakts keep shouting ‘hindu khatre mein hain’ at every given opportunity without knowing jackshit about what Hindu means. Or Hindustan for that matter. Just because everyone is high on moral outrage you are high on it too. Sorry, this way your voice and stand becomes more irrelevant than you think. But oh, I forgot you cannot think. For yourselves.

Righteousness
Are you a film festival or a Khap Panchayat? I smell so much self-congratulatory pride in your actions and statements. Why? Suddenly you have become all righteous and in the weird most way possible. Oxfam is Ok with you, Lars Von Trier is Ok with you but Bebaak is not. Even after all mentions of the co-producer in question have been removed. And yet, his involvement in other projects go unnoticed. Really now? Who made you the Sarpanch of the me too movement? And a patriarchal one that too.

Convenience
Bhakts have no identity of their own, they derive it from their idols. By taking a stand that is as pointless as it is stupid, you seem to be trying to latch on to the identity of the me too movement because you have none of your own (you can’t have an identity if you can’t think for yourself, btw) Your decision seems to be a strictly PR exercise to keep a good, clean, progressive image in public. A ‘show’ to display you are on the ‘right’ side. That is what patriarchy has done all along. Are you any better? Doesn’t look like to me.

Sense of ownership
Have you noticed bhakts demanding India be exactly the way they wish to be? Have you noticed that all who don’t fall in line are summarily lynched and removed from the system? Do you really think the me too movement is simply about arbitrarily disconnecting those who don’t agree with you? Not only have you denied Shazia a fair hearing, your responses show you wish to have no conversation about it because you seem to know what you are doing is right. Somehow that is enough and Shazia has no place or say in the matter. Wonderful. I thought only bhakts did that. The me too movement, is not yours alone to decide what to do with it. Just like India does not belong to the bhakts alone.

Entitlement
The me too movement is a variety of things for all of us, women and men alike, small and big alike. For some it is about speaking up, for some remaining silent, for some taking action, for some backing off. But for all of this to have happened, women and men alike, have taken individual stands. They have made difficult choices. They have lost friends, reputations and careers among other things, to ensure we finally call out hypocrisy and entitlement. Your stand reeks of both to me, hypocrisy and entitlement. Will you call yourself out? Guess, that would be bad for PR. If you won’t you don’t stand in solidarity with the movement because the one thing it has taught us all is where we all are complicit in the system. But you seem to be a system unto yourself and an ill-thought out one at that. Doesn’t it remind of you something called the bhakt behavior?

Any answers to all of the above? If not, try watching Bebaak again, you may still have a copy. May help you develop a brain. And a spine.

Btw, Bebaak means fearless.

Fatema Kagalwala
A very disappointed film fan who also happens to be a feminist.

Arati Raval-Pandey is a huge Mumbai Film Festival fan and religiously prepares her to-watch list every year.

This year too, she has prepared a pool of the most recommended films that she has collated after reading numerous lists and articles on the web.

She is also one of the oldest readers of MFC, and thus decided to share the exploits of her research with all of us this time.

The only disclaimer is that, like all lists, it is a qualitative opinion of various film lovers. A lot of films that people are looking forward to, won’t be here. It’s no Bible – just a reference for those who have little time to know what are the films with most buzz.

  1. Touch Me Not
    Director: Adina Pintilie
    Language / Country: Romanian
    Festival: Golden Bear – Berlin

    Supposed to greatly divide audiences. About modern sexuality

  2. The Heiresses
    Director: Marcelo Martinessi
    Country: Paraguay
    Festival: Best Actress – Berlin
  3. Reza
    Director: Alireza Motamedi
    Language / Country: Persian

    Delightful modern rom-com

  4. Manta Ray
    Director: Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
    Language / Country: Thai
    Festival: Venice Horizon
  5. Azougue Nazare
    Director: Tiago Melo
    Language / Country: Spanish
    Festival: Bright Future – Rotterdam
  6. And Breathe Normally
    Director: Issold Uggadottir
    Language / Country: Icelandic
    Festival: Direction – Sundance
  7. Ma.Ama
    Director: Dominic Sangma
    Country: India

    Only Indian film in the International Competition

  8. Birds of Passage
    Director: Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego
    Language / Country: Spanish

    Colombia’s entry for the Oscars

  9. Woman at War
    Director: Benedikt Erlingsson
    Language / Country: Icelandic

    Iceland’s entry for the Oscars

  10. Shoplifters
    Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
    Language / Country: Japanese
    Festival: Palm D’or – Cannes
  11. Supa Modo
    Director: Likarion Wainaina
    Country: Kenya
    Festival: Crystal Bear – Berlin
  12. Roma
    Director: Alfonso Cuaron
    Language / Country: Spanish
    Festival: Golden Lion – Venice

    Mexico’s entry to the Oscars

  13. Cold War
    Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
    Language / Country: Polish
    Festival: Best Director – Cannes
  14. Burning
    Director: Lee Chang-dong
    Language / Country: Korean
    Festival: FIPRESCI – Cannes

    South Korea’s entry to the Oscars

  15. Champions
    Director: Javier Fesser
    Language / Country: Spanish

    Spain’s entry to the Oscars

  16. Border
    Director: Ali Abbasi
    Language / Country: Swedish
    Festival: Un Certain Regard – Winner

    Sweden’s entry to the Oscars

  17. The Wild Pear Tree
    Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
    Language / Country: Turkish
  18. A 12 Year Night
    Director: Alvaro Brechner
    Language / Country: Uruguay
    Festival: Venice, San Sebastian

    Uruguay’s entry to the Oscars

  19. The Miseducation of Cameron Post
    Director: Desiree Akhavan
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: US Dramatic Grand Jury – Sundance
  20. Nancy
    Director: Christina Choe
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Sundance – Screenwriting Award
  21. Kailash
    Director: Derek Doneen
    Language / Country: Hindi / English
    Festival: Doc. Jury Prize – Sundance

    Documentary on Kailash Satyarthi

  22. Three Identical Strangers
    Director: Tim Wardle
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Sp. Jury for Storytelling – Sundance
  23. Matangi Maya M.I.A.
    Director: Steve Loveridge
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: World Cinema Doc – Sundance
  24. Mug
    Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
    Language / Country: Polish
    Festival: Grand Jury Prize – Berlin
  25. In the Aisles
    Director: Thomas Stuber
    Language / Country: German
    Festival: Ecumenical Jury – Berlin
  26. The Day I Lost My Shadow
    Director: Soudade Kaadan
    Language / Country: Arabic
    Festival: Lion of the Future – Venice
  27. BlacKkKlansman
    Director: Spike Lee
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Competed for Palm d’Or; Won Grand Prix

    African American detective infiltrates a KKK conspiracy

  28. 3 Faces
    Director: Jafar Panahi
    Language / Country: Persian
    Festival: Best Screenplay – Cannes
  29. The Image Book
    Director: Godard
    Language / Country: French
    Festival: Special Palm d’Or – Cannes
  30. Diamantino
    Director: Gabriel A, Daniel S.
    Language / Country: Portuguese
    Festival: Nespresso Grand Prize – Cannes
  31. Climax
    Director: Gasper Noe
    Language / Country: French / English
    Festival: Director’s Fortnight – Cannes

    Musical Horror

  32. Samouni Road
    Director: Stefano Savona
    Language / Country: Italian
    Festival: Documentary Award – Cannes
  33. Widows
    Director: Steve McQueen
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: TIFF, Closing Film at MFF
  34. Shadow
    Director: Zhang Yimou
    Country: Chinese
    Festival: Venice, TIFF
  35. The House That Jack Built
    Director: Lars Von Trier
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Cannes
  36. Season of the Devil
    Director: Lav Diaz
    Country: Philippines
    Festival: Berlin – Competition
  37. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
    Director: Gus Van Sant
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Sundance
  38. High Life
    Director: Claire Denis
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: TIFF

    Claire’s first English feature

  39. First Reformed
    Director: Paul Schrader
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Venice – Competition
  40. Ash is Purest White
    Director: Jia Zhangke
    Country: Chinese
    Festival: Competed for Palm d’Or
  41. Non Fiction
    Director: Oliver Assayas
    Language / Country: French
    Festival: Venice – Competition
  42. Our Time
    Director: Carlos Reygadas
    Language / Country: Spanish
    Festival: Venice – Competition
  43. In Fabric
    Director: Peter Strickland
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: TIFF, London FF

    Horror-comedy about a cursed dress in a departmental store

  44. Grass
    Director: Sang-Soo Hong
    Language / Country: Korean
    Festival:
  45. Hotel by the River
    Director: Sang-Soo Hong
    Language / Country: Korean
    Festival: TIFF
  46. Colette
    Director: Wash Westmoreland
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Sundance, London FF
  47. Beautiful Boy
    Director: Felix Van Groeningen
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: TIFF

    Would be out on Amazon US on October 12

  48. Vision
    Director: Naomi Kawase
    Language / Country: Japanese
    Festival: TIFF
  49. A Tramway in Jerusalem
    Director: Amos Gitai
    Country: Israel
  50. Maya
    Director: Mia Hansen-Love
    Language / Country: French / English
    Festival: TIFF – Special Presentations
  51. Fahrenheit 11/9
    Director: Michael Moore
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: TIFF

    Already released in the US

  52. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
    Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Venice – Best Screenplay

    Western anthology written by the Coen brothers

  53. Sorry to Bother You
    Director: Boots Riley
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Sundance

    Already released in the US

  54. Too Late To Die Young
    Director: Dominga Sotomayor
    Language / Country: Spanish
    Festival: Locarno – Best Direction

    First woman to win Direction award at Locarno

  55. Thunder Road
    Director: Jim Cummings
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Grand Jury – SXSW
  56. In My Room
    Director: Ulrich Kohler
    Language / Country: German
    Festival: Un Certain Regard
  57. Wildlife
    Director: Paul Dano
    Language / Country: English
    Festival: Critics Week – Opening Film
  58. Transit
    Director: Christian Petzold
    Language / Country: German
    Festival: Berlin

  59. Dhappa
    Director: Nipun Dharmadhikari
    Language: Marathi
  60. Tesoros
    Director: Maria Novaro
    Language / Country: Spanish
    Festival: Berlin
  61. Balekempa
    Director: Ere Gowda
    Language: Kannada
    Festival: IFFR – FIPRESCI
  62. Soni
    Director: Ivan Ayr
    Language: Hindi
    Festival: Venice
  63. Leave No Trace
    Director: Debra Granik
    Language: English
    Festival: Sundance

    Already released in the US

  64. Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
    Director: Vasan Bala
    Language: Hindi
    Festival: TIFF

    Opening Film

  65. Long Days Journey Into Night
    Director: Bi Gan
    Language: Guizhou Dialect
    Festival: Cannes – Un Certain Regard

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King

Dear Board members at MAMI,

My name is Shazia Iqbal. I am the writer-director of a short film titled ‘Bebaak’. Our film was supposed to have its world premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival, this year. It is not going to anymore. The leadership at MAMI decided to drop the film.

Why? That is the answer you owe my team and me.

I was not given an official written statement from the board/committee members as to why my film was dropped. This, inspite of me repeatedly asking for the same:

A few more attempts on Whatsapp went unanswered. But this is what I did get:

I was then told by a member that this decision wasn’t fair to me but it was the final decision of the board. And that it was not meant to be a punishment or judgement.

I appreciate the empathy from Team MAMI but it changes nothing.

These are the questions I want to ask:

Then why was the film dropped? If it doesn’t serve as punishment or judgement?

Did you know the content of the film before dropping it? Or were we part of a surface clean-up?

I understand there are ‘collateral damages’ in a battle but my film is as feminist as this battle we are fighting; and if you’re shutting down a film that starts a conversation against misogyny and patriarchy, then what side of the battle are you on?

What side of the movement do you all belong to?

In any fight, you have to keep in mind the words ‘Justice’ and ‘Punishment’.

Justice: being fair and reasonable, treating people equally.

Punishment: the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offence.

I was told over a phone call that my film ‘Bebaak’ will be dropped from the festival program because one of the producers is Anurag Kashyap.

I was not told, but was supposed to understand, that since he is accused of “being complicit” in a sexual harassment case (one of the partners at Phantom, Vikas Bahl is accused of sexually assaulting a woman), our film has been disqualified.

Let me clarify that Anurag is one of my two producers. The other is Ajay Rai of Jar Pictures. And the film is independently produced by both.

Phantom Films (of which the directly accused, Vikas Bahl was part of) has nothing to do with us. There was no monetary or production involvement with the accused in any capacity.

This is an open legal case and I will say as much there already is in public domain (and also include some of my personal knowledge) that Anurag did all that he could at the time and unfortunately, yet it wasn’t enough to get the woman complete justice because she did not want to make a formal complaint. (Sorry, I don’t use the politically correct but demoralizing word ‘victim’.)

Anurag was a Board Member of your Academy.

He voluntarily stepped down from the Board to keep your reputation ‘clean’. Here is his tweet (where he also denies being complicit):

Here is another tweet where he denies being silent:

Here he mentions his responsibility to the women with whom he works with (I am one of them) and mentions that we have questioned them regarding the case (him and Vikram):

Anurag and Vikram clarified their side of the story, shared their dilemma and apologised.

But apparently none of this mattered.

You chose to believe a one-sided, article written by a so called ‘investigative journalist’ — Ankur Pathak — who kept many details out of the article because it did not suit the narrative of a story he wanted to tell; painting Anurag and Vikram as the wrongdoers, way more than the accused, Vikas Bahl himself!

And instead of standing up for the truth or even looking for it, you would rather go with the lynch mob mentality and a knee jerk reaction than look for a more nuanced solution to the situation.

I am the writer-director of the film. I have a female lead, and more than fifty percent of my main cast and crew are women. We have all become the “collateral damage” of a movement that is meant to empower women. I don’t fully understand law but I understand enough about equality and just treatment. You’re questioning the integrity of two men who are currently defending a woman in court/fighting an accused sexual predator and you’re taking action against them (and my team) based on an article.

Ankur Pathak is NOT the court of law. Isn’t this also a form of harassment?

Anurag and Vikram have apologized for not taking a harder stand, but at no point did they accept being complicit. I have been working with Phantom Films as a Production Designer (since early 2017), and I have never once seen Vikas Bahl, the accused in the company premises or on shoots.

In some personal conversations, Anurag spoke about Vikas and expressed his disgust with the man, said he wanted to take action against the man. I know of Shubhra (his girlfriend) being adamant about the same. He didn’t want his name on Mukkabaaz and later in other films but was bound by the contract. I am a witness to Anurag’s struggle, but since I am an ally, my testimony here doesn’t matter.

After the shoddy Huffpost article was published, Vikram stood amongst all the employees at Phantom Films and asked us to raise any doubts we had about the case. Without any hesitation, I and other women (and men) threw several questions at him regarding the case and each of those questions were answered. Convincingly.

Today he too stands punished. A film produced by him, directed by Atul Mongia has also been removed from your anthology slate. So now any film can be rejected or dropped on the basis of past association, whether the accused is involved or not?

Today Anurag and Vikram are being punished. As is everyone associated with them. Including their films; our films. Meanwhile, Vikas Bahl has slapped a defamation case against them.

Please don’t misconstrue this as personal agenda in support of friends/employers. I am merely stating the facts.

In the meantime, the rest of us have to suffer the wrath against one man. This is where I’m lost. Let’s look at this more objectively.

MAMI is a prestigious film festival. It is run and backed by some of the most powerful people in the industry. My film ‘Bebaak’ is just another short film. What we share in common is that we were both backed by Anurag Kashyap.

You asked me to drop Anurag’s name (because he insisted that ‘Films are bigger than individuals), I agreed. A feminist film getting a platform in the midst of the country’s biggest Me Too wave is a great deal; I revised my DCP, Trailer and Poster and had his name removed. (Poster attached)

Similarly, MAMI was also supported by Anurag as a Board member. He voluntarily stepped down. So now the short film is sans Anurag’s name and MAMI, the big film festival, doesn’t carry his name either. To apply your very fair analogy, if you still decided to drop my short film for my association with Anurag… shouldn’t you also dissolve the board itself for your association with Anurag?

Why don’t YOU take that moral responsibility and shut yourself down for previously being associated with those who YOU believe have been complicit?

Have you also done a check on your other Board members? Made sure they are not in association with any accused? Or not complicit?

Because as I see, there are at least two MAMI Board members who were in the know-how of an actress being harassed during audition by a director (already accused publicly). I was personally told by this actress that your Board members did nothing despite being from a big film family. (You can keep an independent inquiry panel and I will testify and name the board members. I assure you I would not have galls to say this if it wasn’t the truth.)

So does MAMI agree to dissolve its board to stand in solidarity with the movement since their own board members are complicit? Or is this only applicable to filmmakers?

Now let me explain the hypocrisy. These are the films MAMI has dropped:

  1. Satyanshu and Devanshu Singh’s Chintu ka Birthday.

    Producer: AIB (Tanmay Bhat accused of not taking action against accused Utsav Chakravorty, Gursimran Khamba accused by an ex-girlfriend of harassment.)

  2. Rajat Kapoor’s Kadakh. Director himself accused of assaulting a couple of women.
  3. Kanu Behl’s Binnu ka Sapna. Producer: Chintan Ruparel (of Terribly Tiny Tales, accused of harassing multiple women.)
  4. Atul Mongia’s Awake. Producer: Vikramaditya Motwane (partner at Phantom, accused of not taking any action against accused Vikas Bahl).
  5. My film Bebaak. Producer: Anurag Kashyap (partner at Phantom, accused of not taking any action against accused Vikas Bahl).

Each of these films has a different issue, yet every single cast and crew member of the above mentioned films have received the same verdict. Everyone’s film stands cancelled today.

When Hollywood started the Me Too movement and Kevin Spacey was found guilty of assaulting Anthony Rapp, years ago, Netflix replaced him in House of Cards. Only him. Spacey was also replaced in Ridley Scott’s All the money in the world. But the show/film wasn’t cancelled.

Please tell me which Filmmaker/Actor in Hollywood or any other film industry has been punished because they are guilty by association.

But I guess at MAMI, you want to take a very hard stand on this and punish everyone who is in a 100km radius of any accused. This must have required a very strong vetting process, I hoped. But that is not the case.

I am also guessing that the MAMI team aren’t fully aware of these films/incidents mentioned below: (though they are all the over internet and really hard to miss).

  1. Lars Von Trier’s The House That Jack Built. He is directly accused, not a complicit; one of the most powerful filmmakers to be outed during the Me Too movement last year. Singer-Actor Bjork accused him of sexual assault during filming of ‘Dancer in The Dark’.His partner — Peter Aalbæk Jensen — at his company, Zentropa (producers of The house that Jack built) is also accused of sexual misconduct.How does Lars’ film qualify to play?
  2. Beatriz Seigner’s Los Silencios. Anurag is credited as one of the producers on the film. Did you guys know? (Well… I did inform your team.)
    How is one of Anurag’s films still playing at the festival?
  3. Paul Schrader’s First Reform. Harvey Weinstein, a predator of the worst kind has been assaulting women for decades. In response, this is what Paul Schrader had to say in a Facebook post:Is MAMI comfortable playing a film by a maker who is more offended by the recutting of films, than sexual assault on women?Please remind me if any of my producers made such insensitive, vile statements about treating women as secondary to making films.

    Paul Schrader criticised for tone-deaf response to Weinstein allegations

    Hollywood writer-director Paul Schrader has been criticised for claiming he is more offended by film producer Harvey…
    http://www.independent.co.uk

    Also this:

    Paul Schrader’s Rape Comments Aren’t Helping Anyone

    Obviously there have been a lot of horrible takes on the subjects of consent and sexual assault due to the accusations…
    http://www.pajiba.com

  4. Nagraj Manjule’s An Essay of The Rain: The news came last year that Nagraj Manjule, the director of powerful films like Fandry and Sairat was accused by his wife of assaulting her physically, emotionally, verbally and she also gave details of how he kept her locked in the house while the family went to collect National Award for Manjule.But this qualifies at the festival?

    Exclusive: ‘Sairat’ Director’s Ex-Wife Tells Her Story of Abuse

    Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat not only gifted its director glowing reviews, but also crowned him as the maker of Marathi…
    http://www.thequint.com

  5. OXFAM.There is a GENDER EQUALITY award by Oxfam at MAMI.Is this the same Oxfam that was embroiled in major sexual misconduct since 2010? This is a huge one to skip.

    How Oxfam sexual misconduct scandal unfolded

    Allegations of sexual misconduct by Oxfam workers in 2011 have rocked the aid sector. Here’s how the scandal unfolded…
    news.sky.com

    Few things in the world would be as ironical as naming a gender parity award on a company accused of a major sex scandal.

    Minnie Driver: Oxfam bosses ‘knew what was going on and did nothing’

    Actor and activist who worked with the charity for 20 years stepped down to ‘send a message’ after Haiti sexual…
    http://www.theguardian.com

    26 new cases of sexual harassment and assault at Oxfam, committee hears

    Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, has said that his charity has received 26 new reports of sexual assault and…
    http://www.civilsociety.co.uk

Shouldn’t MAMI step down for getting into partnership with a company that has been informed of several sexual assaults but did nothing? Isn’t this a direct association?
(If this is untrue, I will apologise for it.)

And to end with, I also hope you have put the remaining 200 films screening at MAMI through a strict, vetting process. Because as I see and know of the industry, if every film is to be dropped because a cast or crew member is remotely in any association with an accused… no film will play here. I hope no one at MAMI is naïve to believe otherwise.

I say all of this at the risk of damaging my directorial career that hasn’t even started. I challenge you to dive deep into your conflicted conscience.

Because your own integrity stands questioned now.

My film is about a young woman who defies a religious authority when attacked with blatant misogyny. I was told that if the film is screened, its bigger purpose will be lost. I don’t agree. Keeping a gender equality film away from a social and political change makes no sense. It displays a lack of courage.

I am terribly sorry if I sound angry and hurt and broken. I am all of that.

It takes a lot to make even a short film. Writing, Directing, Designing, Casting, Recces, Auditions, Edit sessions, Subtitles, non stop late night Sound and DI sessions, Production. Managing budgets. Accounts. Constantly losing locations. Even a day before the shoot. Reshoots. Press kits. Catalogues. Trailer. Poster.

I kept shuffling between my short film and five Production design projects, last year. Working at an average of 20 hours a day for months.

It took me a year. One whole year! To make a 20 minutes short.

How much time did you guys take to drop the film?

I decided to make a short film because I couldn’t sell my feature film to any Studio. It had a female lead.

Female lead and female director is a risk. Aap lead ko change kar ke male kar do‘, said one of the Studio heads (they makes family entertainers).

Love the idea. Why don’t you give the script to us? We’ll develop it with another director.
So either the director or the lead had to be male.

But that wasn’t the case for a short.

But we were still making a religiously sensitive film in a deeply religious society. We were thrown from locations — Mosques and Tombs — because even when shoots are allowed in sanctimonious environments, Women aren’t.

While dealing with all the humiliation, I held myself and my team together and decided to put it all in my film. Because that’s what story tellers do. We don’t use our physical might, we use our words.

That struggle, that fight was a nightmare. But expected. This struggle, this fight – unexpected.

I thought of MAMI as female-driven connoisseurs of cinema. But for me now, there is no difference between that studio head who thinks women can’t direct, the men who threw us out from the mosque or the members at MAMI Board. Everyone is only concerned with their farce image.

We are a short film. Film festivals are our only hope. We don’t release in theatres.

We don’t have a chance at 40-crores weekends. All we want is to be seen, for our story to reach people.

Do you think my cast and crew of 80 people and I deserve this? As a feminist group, you have shut down a feminist voice even before it took off. This is so heart breaking for my entire team.

But I will not let this be my embarrassment. It is your embarrassment for treating films and filmmakers like disposable trash.

Do you also understand what does your ‘holier than thou’ decision do to us? You don’t think any festivals, will think twice before picking us up? And I know this letter kills our chance further, but I was not taught to be quiet when wronged.

I am a part of MAMI family. For years! I have written articles and reviews on films screened at MAMI. The day I was told our film was selected by MAMI, will remain special for me. Anurag and I were so happy about it. Home premiere! We can show the film to the people closest to us. Our industry friends, our colleagues, families.
Now we have nothing to tell anyone.

From the time the Me Too movement started in the west, I have felt a silent rage and calm within, at the same time. How badly was this needed! And what an artistic way it has come to finally fight the age old patriarchal, dehumanizing idea of treating women as mere sexual objects.

I say artistic because each woman gets a chance to tell her story. Openly. Fearlessly. How powerful is that?

As a survivor of child abuse, several sexual assaults and harassment at workplace, I find it really odd, discomforting, unfair and traumatizing to be at the receiving end of the most powerful feminist moment of our times.

This isn’t justice.

This is irrational, illogical, unjustifiable penance. How is this not harassment?

Sorry MAMI board members, you missed standing by the #MeToo movement by a mile.

I wait for a response.

Sincerely,

Shazia Iqbal (@shazarch)

On Medium