13 November 2017
“To make meaningful cinema, we need an enabling environment and freedom to express,” said veteran actor Sharmila Tagore, 72, as she graciously received the Excellence in Cinema - India award at 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai film festival with Star 2017, amidst a standing ovation.The annual week-long affair was declared open at Liberty Cinema on Thursday evening by co-chair of the festival Nita Ambani, after a delay of over an hour.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was supposed to be the guest of honour, was unable to attend the event.With 108 films in her portfolio and an experience of 58 years, Ms. Tagore reminisced about her youth as an actor in Hindi and Bengali film industry. “While I worked in Calcutta, they used to tell me, ‘This is not Bombay, reflect more’. And when in Bombay, they used to tell me, ‘This is not a Ray film, work faster’.” She also hoped for a more inclusive cinema in India, especially with regard to roles for older women. Actor Aamir Khan and Ms. Ambani presented the award to Ms. Tagore.
The Excellence in Cinema - International was awarded to filmmaker Chen Kaige, a leading figure in the fifth generation of Chinese cinema and winner of the Palm d’Or in 1993 for his film Farewell My Concubine (1993). This is the second time in a row the festival has felicitated a Chinese filmmaker, with Jia Zhangke being honoured with the same award last year.‘A mirror to the times’Mr. Kaige was unable to attend the festival as he was busy on the post-production of his upcoming film, but he addressed the audience through a video message.
He said, “My job is to not only use cinema to mirror the times we live in, but also to create a world where people can achieve all that they can’t in the real world.” He added, “As Chinese cinema becomes bigger, I also hope it grows in reputation.”The opening ceremony was followed by the opening film of the festival, Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz. Mr. Kashyap invited some of the cast and crew of the film onstage to present the movie. The screening was the Asian premiere of Mukkabaaz. Mr. Kashyap said, “This is also the first time my film is showing in India before its release.
The last two times this happened, the film didn’t release.”The evening was hosted by actors Kunal Kapoor and Aditi Rao Hydari, and witnessed an introduction of all the jury members across the different competition sections of the festival. Head of the jury of the international competition section this year is British filmmaker John Madden, best known for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films.
British feature and documentary filmmaker Clio Barnard is the head of the India Gold jury, competition section for Indian feature films.