Stars from both the Hindi and South Indian film industries turned out in force for the opening night of Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, including Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sonam Kapoor and Bhumi Pednekar, along with Tamil star Kamal Haasan, who presented the Excellence in Cinema Award (South Asia) to director-producer Mani Ratnam.
The two leading figures of South Indian cinema also announced their first collaboration in 36 years – KH 234 – to be produced by Haasan’s Raaj Kamal Films International and Ratman’s Madras Talkies.
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“We’re producing the film together – he’s directing it and any job that’s going I’m willing to do, including lead man,” joked Haasan after presenting Ratman with the award. “I’ll keep that in mind,” Ratnam retorted.
Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman and cinematographer Ravi K Chandran are also attached to the film. Haasan and Ratnam last collaborated on gangster drama Nayakan in 1987. A teaser trailer of their new co-production will be released on November 6.
Meanwhile, Chopra Jonas, who is also chairperson of Mumbai film festival, presented the Excellence in Cinema Award (International) to Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, who like Ratnam, will deliver a master class at the festival.
The ceremony took place in the 2,000-seat Grand Theatre at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC), marking a long-awaited return of an event that was forced online and nearly went dark for good during the pandemic. The festival’s organizing committee, Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI), announced in February that it was returning as in-person event with backing from Reliance Jio.
In her opening speech, Chopra Jonas highlighted the festival’s role in supporting new talent as well as championing female filmmakers. “We’d like to acknowledge the pivotal role of women in front of the camera and behind – we have some of the most amazing women, some of them here tonight, whose contribution to cinema is unparalleled,” Jonas said.
Other stars attending the opening included Kareena Kapoor, who stars in opening night film The Buckingham Murders, directed by Hansal Mehta; Jim Sarbh, who recently picked up an Emmy nomination for Rocket Boys; Aditi Rao Hydari, Siddharth, Vijay Varma and Rasika Dugal. Also present were Mira Nair, head of the South Asia Competition jury, with fellow jurors David Michod, Isabel Sandoval and Edouard Waintrop.
The ceremony also honored three doyennes of Indian cinema, who were each presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards – Aruna Vasudev, Nasreen Munni Kabir and Uma da Cunha, with the awards presented by Marco Mueller, Karan Johar and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, respectively. All three have been instrumental in bringing Indian cinema to international audiences through journalism, criticism, subtitling, distribution, programming and archiving.
Also during the ceremony, Sonam Kapoor presented the Best Book on Cinema award to Prakash Magdum’s ‘The Mahatma on Celluloid: A Cinematic Biography’. Bhumi Pednekar presented the Dimensions Mumbai short film awards to Praveen Giri’s Nightingales In The Cocoon and Kumar Chheda’s Halfway. Vidhu Vinod Chopra stepped in to present best film in the Large Short Films Royal Stag competition to Sanjib Gogol’s Summer Of Soul, while Made In Heaven star Sobhita Dhuliapala presented best actor to James Elia for Vakuppu (The Clause).
Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is screening more than 250 films in a 10-day run between October 27 and November 5.
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