The Mumbai Film Festival, organised by Mumbai Academy Of Moving Image (MAMI), has come up with an official campaign film for its 2016 edition, but this time with a twist.
While previous films used Bollywood's top stars to get the audience's attention, this film, helmed by Vasan Bala (director of the yet-unreleased Peddlers; writer of The Lunchbox, Bombay Velvet) makes the average movie-goer the star of the campaign.
Shot in a suburban multiplex, the film beautifully captures the emotions one feels while watching a movie in the darkened hall and is aptly been called Film Lovers First.
At first, it's easy to mistake the words for Javed Akhtar's writing (also because his son Farhan Akhtar has done the voiceover, which reminds one of the poems in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara). However, they've been written by National Award-winning lyricist and writer Varun Grover (Masaan, Dum Laga Ke Haisha).
Talking about the idea, Bala told HuffPost India, "The idea was to make the movie-goer the star instead of going to actual actors. Ultimately, a film festival is a community experience for people and we wanted to reflect that in the short."
Bala also revealed that apart from himself, Grover and cinematographer Avinash Arun (Killa) took time out from their respective schedules to make the film, which involved waiting till 2 AM outside PVR cinemas, because that's the only time they got time and permission to shoot inside.
"We got a bunch of people and played a pre-decided playlist. The idea was to capture the most honest, heartfelt emotions without actually directing those being filmed. And I think the result perfectly extracts those moments," Bala said, adding, "Though we did have to tweak the clips to get relevant reactions — like laughter, awe, sadness etc."
The writer-director insists that it's quite a special moment for him to make a film for the festival as he himself is an alumnus of MAMI. "I started attending film festivals only much later in life when I had reached my 20s. I wish I was exposed to this culture earlier in life. This is exactly why I hope that MAMI becomes a big cultural zeitgeist for our people. While it appears that it is very easy for someone like Anupama Chopra and Kiran Rao to get things done as they're from influential families, the truth is it's a lot of struggle, sweat and hard work."
Varun Grover added, "No film is complete without viewers finally watching it. The campaign 'Film Lovers First' brings the most-essential part of a film — its viewer — in the limelight and celebrate the human emotions this relationship facilitates. MAMI is our annual adda of film lovers — in fact, it is the only 'festival' that I celebrate and wait for."
Watch the film below.