A bouquet of 20 short films made by a bunch of young filmmakers focusing on various aspects of the city was screened here as part of the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival’s Dimensions Mumbai section. The members of jury say they are looking for originality, emotional connectivity and creativity in the stories while judging them.
The youngsters embarked on the journey with their cell phones or some ordinary cameras and had five minutes to narrate their interpretation of the city.
Director Gauri Shinde says that five minutes are enough to present an idea.
“According to me, being an ad filmmaker, five minutes is really long. In fact, you have to wonder how to fill those five minutes...time is enough, it is not a constraint…,” Gauri told IANS.
From bringing the story of a shop located in one of the most chaotic parts of the city selling memorabilia tracing history of Indian cinema to a boy’s determination to pursue cricket despite all odds to a simple girl’s dream of seeing the city, the filmmakers interpreted Mumbai in their own way.
Gauri said that some were good with the idea, but not so much with the execution, and some were good with the execution, “so it’s a mix of everything”.
She and other jury members - Satish Kaushik, Huma Qureshi, Homi Adajania and Rajeev Masand - watched “Short Film”, “Zor Lagake Haisha”, “Selfie”, “Crowman”, “Bombay 70”, “Marine Drive”, “Interval”, “Sawari”, “Jeevachi Mumbai - ‘City of Life’”, “Gilbert”, “Bumbhaiyya”, “Majha Honeymoon”, “Bollywood Bazaar”, “Mahanagari”, “Time's Equation”, “Rumana Manzil”, “Boundary”, “Dariyo”, “Unfit” and “Chataiwala”.
“It is interesting to know what young people are doing and without any real access to film equipment. They shot on various formats like cell phones, and it’s interesting to know the enthusiasm among the youngsters to do that, but I would like to see more work coming out from the city for sure,” she said.
The director, who had struck the right chord with movie buffs with her debut film “English Vinglish”, added that she primarily watches any visual medium as an audience “because that’s the only way you can react”.
What are your criteria of judging a film?
“It’s the story...if the story really drives itself home, connects and brings a good response...that’s how I would rate. And apart from that, how original is the idea, how well it has been executed... like is it too preachy and if there is a maturity,” said Gauri.
Adajania, known for wielding the megaphone for films like “Being Cyrus”, “Cocktail” and “Finding Fanny”, says as a judge the focus was certainly not on the technical aspect of filmmaking.
“How we all decided to judge was not based on how technically superior they were because we know they are debutant filmmakers who obviously do not have access to a lot of the things like funds etc.,” the filmmaker told IANS.
Dimensions Mumbai’s theme is Mumbai, which reportedly ranks sixth on the list of the world's most populous cities in 2014 and is described as a melting pot that gives shelter to about 21 million people from various cultures and religions.
Thriving with cultural diversity, the city can provide interesting food for thought for filmmakers as there are enough stories floating around and one just needs to identify the right one that connects well with the viewers.
Adajania feels that a film that finds the right connects with the audience works.
“The idea is to look at the purity, and the interpretation they have done of Mumbai. The interpretation could be just one dimensional, or it could be extremely interesting or very unique,” Adajania said.
“Our idea was: emotionally or creatively it strikes a chord or not? It should connect with the audience."
“Are you emotionally investing in those five minutes? Is it creating some kind of impact - if it is doing all that, then it works,” he added.
Praising the fest for creating a platform like Dimensions Mumbai for young filmmakers to show their creativity, Kaushik said that they are lucky to have it.
“Otherwise it’s difficult to get a platform to show your skills,” he said and added that he was “pleased” to see the films of different genres.
“Some were funny, some were quirky and some were very humane...it was a nice experience to watch them... I’m happy to see the collection,” said the filmmaker and actor.
While rating the films, his focus would be “what different perspective of Mumbai is shown and how well it is shown... We aren’t focusing on technical aspect. We are judging the film on the basis of effective narrative, originality of the concept and how they have perceived Mumbai.."