Dressed in a flamboyant three-tier frill gown, actor Deepika Padukone, appointed as the new chairperson of the Jio MAMI Mumbai film festival with Star, opened the 21st edition on Thursday. Many of you are wondering why am I the chairperson. Shouldnt it be someone older, wiser and more experienced? she asked. But Im here to learn and give back to the community that has given me my identity.
Actor, painter, filmmaker and poet Deepti Naval, who has acted in over 60 films across four decades, was awarded the Excellence in Cinema - India award. The 67-year-old, who flew down from the U.S. a few days ago, where she currently resides, accepted the award from filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj and Ms. Padukone. Im quite nervous and Ive always wondered what it feels like to be onstage and accept an award, and now I know, said Ms. Naval. Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles who won the Excellence in Cinema - International award was not present at the ceremony.
Festival trustee Nita Ambani announced a new prize starting next year. We will give the Reliance Foundation award for best films on social causes, said Ms. Ambani.
Actor-writer Soha Ali Khan, who hosted the event, introduced the members of the various juries. Head of the International Competition jury, Palestinian-Dutch filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad said that it was his first visit to India. But it still feels familiar because of all the Indian films I have seen, and I cant wait to see if the country I saw in your movies is real or not, said the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker.
Film producer Franklin Leonard, who is heading the India Gold jury, a competition section for contemporary Indian films, was asked what makes cinema truly universal. He quoted filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and said, A films specificity makes it universal. You tell a story about human beings as they are and the rest of us will recognise our common humanity in them.