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Discovering India at MAMI — five unique films

Team OGS


Curated by Uma da Cunha, the Discovering India section at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star spotlights Indian Cinema’s universal reach in globalised, changing landscapes. This section showcases international films made by resident Indians (‘Roam Rome Mein’), or films by filmmakers of Indian origin living elsewhere (‘The Last Color, ‘The Illegal’, ‘Aadhaar’), looking back to their remembered homeland, as well as films by international directors that connect with India, either in theme, locale, or by featuring the country’s film talent (‘Sun’).


(from left: 'Sun', 'The Illegal', 'The Last Color', 'Aadhar', 'Roam Rome Mein') 


‘The Last Color’ dir. Vikas Khanna (2019, India, USA, Hindi, 90 min)

Having mastered the culinary world, Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna has made a breezy entry into filmmaking with his debut feature ‘The Last Color’, a heart-wrenching tale of boundless friendship between a nine-year-old tight-rope walker and flower seller, Chhoti and Noor (Neena Gupta), a widow whose austere white saree symbolises a life of total abstinence and social proscription from festivities, especially Holi, the festival of colours. The film chronicles their spiritual bond over the years as they contest archaic social systems. Following its world premiere at the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival, ‘The Last Color’ has already travelled to over a dozen festivals and recently won the Audience Award and the Director’s Vision Award at the Indian Film Festival Stuttgart. The film will open the Discovering India section at MAMI, where it will have its India premiere on October 18, 2019. 


‘The Illegal’ dir. Danish Renzu (2019, India, USA, English, 86 min)


 (Iqbal Theba and Suraj Sharma

A gritty, realistic portrayal of the social underclass of immigrants in the US, ‘The Illegal’ follows a middle-class Indian student who comes to America to join a film school and fulfil his dream of becoming a filmmaker. An unfortunate turn of events forces him to choose between his family and his ambition. Renzu’s deft handling of the story is bolstered by a cast that includes Suraj Sharma, Adil Hussain, Iqbal Theba, and Shweta Tripathi. The film will have its Asian Premiere at MAMI on October 19. 


‘Aadhaar’ dir. Suman Ghosh (2019, India, Hindi, 107 min)

 A social satire which revolves around a Jharkhand resident who becomes the first in the state to issue an Aadhaar card, while everyone else is reluctant, granting him instant stardom. However, a local priest’s prophecy that his unique 12-digit ID number will prove ominous, leads to this impoverished man’s impossible struggle to change his id number against bureaucratic red tape and religious superstitions. ‘Aadhaar’ is set in a part of Bharat that can only aspire to be part of the new India but has no idea how to go about it. The film stars Vineet Kumar Singh, Saurabh Shukla, Raghuvir Yadav, and Sanjay Mishra.

National award-winning director Suman Ghosh is a household name in Bengali cinema (‘Nobel Chor’, ‘Podokkhep’); ‘Aadhaar’ marks his debut in the Hindi language. Backed by the powerhouse Drishyam Films known for international award-winning titles like, ‘Masaan’, ‘Newton’, ‘Umrika’, the film shows promise of similar acclaim following its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival and its upcoming India premiere at MAMI on October 20.


‘Sun’ dir. Jonathan Desoindre and Ella Kowalska (2019, France, French, 104 min)

Both graduates from Sorbonne, Paris, the directorial pair of ‘Sun’ has been collaborating for over a decade. This is their debut feature film and will have its international premiere at MAMI on October 21. The film follows the eponymous Mr Sun (French actor Tewfik Jallab), a delivery boy in his 30s, who lives a frantic yet unrestrained life in modern Paris. This precarious but pleasant balance is jeopardised when his Indian cousin, Ash, suddenly arrives in Paris to fulfil his dream of playing the sitar at the Olympia. ‘Sun’ is the tumultuous journey of the two brothers as they navigate daily struggles. Ash is played by Indian stand-up comedian, singer, and actor Aadar Malik who will be in attendance at MAMI along with the directors.  


Roam Rome Mein dir. Tannishtha Chatterjee (2019, India, Italy, Hindi, English, Italian, 101 min)


(Centre: Nawazzudin Siddique)

Known for titles such as ‘Parched’ and ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’, acclaimed actor Tannishtha Chatterjee makes her directorial debut with ‘Roam Rome Mei’ starring herself and Nawazzudin Siddique in a story about a brother’s search for his missing sister, which in turn paves the path to his self-discovery. The film is a challenging exploration of the patriarchal psyche, and following its world premiere at Busan will have its the Indian premiere at MAMI on October 22.


Discovering India Award for Best Film

One of the films from the Discovering India section will be awarded an economy international round-trip to travel to a festival of their choice, sponsored by Turkish Airlines. The winning film will be selected by the two-member jury of Namrata Joshi (The Hindu) and Mike McCahill (The Guardian).


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