MUMBAI: Every Mumbai Film Festival morning begins with a frantic search for laptops, smart phones, internet connection (if you are from out of town and staying over at some place, therefore can't rely on 24x7 Internet), multiple tabs of booking portal open to reserve tickets for that one film or two that you must watch on that day.
All this once you get past a snooze button or two. Because, the film has shows only in another part of the city and you cannot lug yourself around this huge teeming city for just one film. First you make peace with it. Later you realize that this is not the only option and they have something called spot booking.
If you lose that all important one minute it takes for a sought after film (Olivier Assayas's Personal Shopper, Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman, Israel's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award - an Arabic film -the appropriately named Elite Zexer's Sand Storm, Cristian Mungiu's Graduation, Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake's world premiere of Vikramaditya Motwane's Trapped), you can go to the box office and get that coveted seat. By the time you get the hang of the whole thing, the festival is over. Hence, communication is everything.
In Vikramaditya Motwane's 'Trapped', that had its world premiere here, it's all about communication - or the lack of it. A communication paralysis takes over bang in the middle of a city like Mumbai. Starring Rajkumar Rao, Motwane's return after Lootera, can be about many things. It's about fear. It's about really bad things happening to really nice people. It's about how intensely wired we are to our many communication devices and how crazy we can become if they are pulled away from us.
Trapped is also about the very little time it takes for a perfectly civilized person to turn barbaric, all for survival. It can also be political. After a point you wonder if Motwane's definition of Trapped is about being locked out of the rest of the world or is it all about being trapped in this endless web of communication. More than a good film, Vikramaditya Motwane has made a very intelligent one.
In Alankrita Shrivastava's 'Lipstick Under My Burkha', women in Bhopal - in what counts as a second tier city setting - are trapped in myriad ways. It tells the story of four women in different stages of their lives - one a teenager trying to negotiate the ways of a traditional Muslim household, another about to get married but with dreams in her eyes and a paramour in front, a middle aged housewife kick-starting a late career surge and a widow in her sunset years attempting to swim in a pool and against the harsh currents of prejudice that her age and aspirations seem to attract.
Shrivastava's film goes to places that one wouldn't expect a mainstream Hindi film to get to and for that alone it works. It's here to tell four compelling stories that put a mirror in front of patriarchy but doesn't bother itself trying to smash it. Possibly its bravest decision. Lipstick Under My Burkha received the Oxfam India Award For ‘Best Film On Gender Equality’ at the concluded 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.
Patriarchy is least of the problems in a film that couldn't be more different from Lipstick Under My Burkha - Ananya Kasaravalli's 'Harikatha Prasanga' (Chronicles of Hari).
Much like last year's Placebo, Chronicles of Hari works as an examination of a suicide and the systemic issues that created a space for such an event. Who was Hari? Was Hari a man? Was Hari a woman? Was Hari a man known to play women in Yakshagana so convincingly, that he was convinced of it himself? How did the people around Hari react to it and what part, if any, did they play in shaping his conscience that led to his story as we know today? Harikatha Prasanga takes a meta documentary approach to the story and succeeds.
There is really no other way to tell this tale of a life wronged.