All Lights Indian Film Festival became a super hit in Kochi. All my life I have tried my level best to excel in what I do. God knows I have tried hard and given everything that I could. I have dedicated all these years to Indian cinema and in the meantime came to understand that hard work pays off. Everyone is bound to play his/her role in this grand stage, that is life, and I have been true to mine. And what else can an actor wish for, if not the applauding roar from the audience, the nationwide appreciation of oneself reaching his pinnacle. I am elated and truly at a loss of words being selected as the Brand Ambassador from Bengal Film Industry at the All Lights Indian Film Festival (ALIFF) thanks to All Lights Film Services (ALFS).
When Satyajit Ray was on an award winning spree, Ritwik Ghatak was making his mark through groundbreaking films, Mrinal Sen was judging movies in Cannes, then Indian cinema was in full throttle. Gone are those days when the masters of the art ruled the game. What Indian cinema needs today, and I myself have felt it very badly, is an international exposure. All Lights Film Services is aiding filmmakers to go global and that’s a noble initiative. And now they have organized a grand film festival serving as a platform where those connections will be spurious and spontaneous. All Lights Film Festival is really a decisive step towards the international acknowledgement of Indian cinema.
I felt proud to share the same stage with luminaries like Mohanlal, Kamal Hasan, Kalki Koechlin, Venkatesh, Ketan Mehta and many more. I reached there on the morning of 18th November and Kochi warmly welcomed me. Things have started to look up since I have set foot there. I would like to share one instance especially when I knew this trip is going to be rewarding. Ushadi’s son was admitted in a hospital next to my hotel since more than a month and I planned a surprise visit there. They were overwhelmed to see me and couldn’t help crying in joy. And my joy knew no bound when the news of his release the very next day came when I was there.
Media interaction on Indywood was intriguing. I especially liked the term ‘Indywood’! It assimilated Indian cinema, the entire spectrum of it from different regionalis and languages under one unifying umbrella.
This four day carnival was packed with enlightening panel discussions, talk shows, interactive workshops and obviously screening of movies from all over the world with a special emphasis on Indian cinema. They made it a point to set an example. The intensive workshops on technicalities of cinema, on photography etc are really impressive. I really enjoyed the lecture “Augmented Reality” by Barry Sandrew. Barry needs no introduction but for a reminder he is an internationally recognized entrepreneur, digital imaging expert and visual effects pioneer with over 24 patents and 25 years of feature film and TV accomplishments including productions for all 6 major Hollywood studios and 3 major networks. Dr. Sandrew is founder of 2 production studios that became gold standards for color visual effects. So he was an iconic image for this festival. The panel discussions were on very relevant and very essential topics like Challenges faced by Independent Movie Makers, whether there is any success formula for film trade, engaging Cinema Audience through Personalization & Future Proof Technology, Exploring Distribution Opportunities for Indian Cinemas in Global Market, Women in Film Making – Opportunities and Challenges Faced etc. The Acting Workshop by Jeff Rector was mesmerizing and I couldn’t help feeling humbled.
One of the greatest charms of the film festival was meeting few good people. Met Subodh Bhave, the great Marathi actor-director there. I watched his movie Lokmanya, directed by debut director Om Raut and both of them did an amazing job. While I was watching “Lokmanya”, the whole team of Lokmanya was watching Baishe Shrabon. I always appreciate this cultural exchange. Finally, I met Ketan Mehta. We have been planning for a get together ever since in vain.
Baishe Shrabon was screened at Cinepolis which attracted a housefull in a foreign state. Sri, my Manager went there and excitedly came back informing me that some of the audience were enjoying the film standing there due to lack of seats as it was going housefull. It was quite a proud moment for both me and Srijit and was worth celebrating with a grand dinner.
The opening movie was a 82 minute feature by Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Several recent Bengali films like Babar Naam Gandhiji, Nirbashito were also screened. I really cherished watching Cinema Paradiso, one of my childhood favorites. What I liked more is the International Competition organized by the authorities in the categories Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film, and debutante Director’s Film. I am really moved by the films MASAAN by Neeraj Ghaywan, MY LIFE WITH A KING by Carlo Enciso Catu, ITALIAN JUSTICE by Marzio Mirabella and SIMPLY AS A HUMAN BEING by Bogdan Lecznar. I found it impressive that the festival also had a separate section on cinema for children.
The closing day was very special with a magnificent red carpet walk. Nirbashito, the documentary on Taslima Nasreen’s lifelong struggle as a writer received the Golden Leaf Awards. It’s a proud moment when they honored me with a memento and an auspicious Kerala cotton shawl.
Next day in the morning we thought to explore Kochi. And hence, I went to a very famous place called Fort Kochi. It’s a sea beach where you will find all types of sea fish and instantly they will fry it and serve. I’m allergic to sea food . So gulping them was out of the question. Instead of that, did some shopping for my family and friends.
This would be a platform for global film industry, to portray excellence in film making, with simultaneously fostering and integrating the Indian Cinema industry as part of facilitating fellowship between people and nations. Hats off to ALIIFF for coming up with this great idea and so successfully materializing it.
Cheers to cinema! Cheers to life!
Love you all!!