How dynamic, manifold and fragmentary this city is. With its post-colonial disturbances, stillvery-colonial architecture, strange smells, vibrant colors and a film audience that is hectic and very lively. In Mumbai cinemas you don’t necessarily show up when the film starts but rather 10-15 minutes into the film. And in Mumbai you don’t necessarily shut up when the film starts but continue to chat away, check your cell phone and call your mom. Life is still carried on even though a film is screened in front of you. And so be it. Different cultures of course also have different cinema habits.
The Mumbai International Film Festival is almost as vibrant and manifold as the host city. With a film selection showcasing animation, short fiction and documentary it demands quite a lot of effort from the viewer. One has to go from sadness and tough realism in a documentary to silliness and infantile themes in an animation minutes later. Body, emotions and mind might get confused but most of the time you just sit there amazed by the wonders of cinema.
Indian documentary is seldom seen in the West. And actually it’s not so common in India either. Only 2-3 times has an Indian documentary had a theatrical release. And even though the country has more than 800 TV channels not a single one is devoted to showcasing documentary, and only once in a while will the major stations give airtime to a documentary.
“Most documentaries are shown at festivals, universities or privately arranged screenings. The interest of the audience is clearly increasing, but it has not infected the broadcasters’ programming yet,” says the Mumbai-based film critic Nandini Ramnath.