I have always been proud to acknowledge that my roots lie in the film industry. My decade-long career in cinema has been both formative and empowering, and has contributed to my growth as a person. It led to my awareness and respect for the creative process, which metamorphosed into my affinity for art, leading to the establishment of the Harmony Art Foundation.
And with my personal evolution over the years came the realisation that we can’t live in individual, self-contained bubbles. We need to reach out and give back to the community, the society that has nourished us.
Ultimately, good cinema mirrors reality — and there are myriad realities existing in our world today, each one equally intense to those experiencing it. For instance, the Danish film Applause exposes the reality of life behind the glamour of the screen. The protagonist is an actress who shines in the limelight but whose private life is dark and emotionally bankrupt.
The Polish film Sweet Rush is about a middle-aged woman with a workaholic husband who finds love again with a younger man, only to lose him. The film deals with universal themes like death, loneliness and ageing — this strikes a deep chord with me owing to my work with Harmony for Silvers Foundation.
Another must-see is Rwanda: The Day God Walked Away, a first-person account of Rwandan genocide in April 1994 that left a million people dead. I remember watching Christiane Amanpour’s special on this atrocity on CNN; I was shocked at how human beings were capable of such cruelty. Another example of people living amid hostility and fear is Ajami, set in a mixed Jewish-Arab district of Jaffa.
It is a searing look at how real people have to live with the decisions of politicians and age-old hostilities that they played no part in creating. Meanwhile, Huacho is the tale of a hard-working peasant in Chile; a depiction of the clash of rural traditions and modern life that has deep resonance for a world still coming to terms with the onslaught of globalisation and technology. These are just five of the many films on view — there is a wide variety of films at the Festival to appeal to Mumbaikars from all walks of life and every intellectual persuasion.
At different stages of my life, I have enjoyed such varied films from the world over — from The Sound of Music and Cleopatra to Clockwork Orange. As I continue to evolve as a person and traverse life’s journey, different films will continue to enthrall me at different points in time.