GLIMPSES OF WORLD'S REALITIES
BOMBAY TO ISRAEL- A JOURNEY ACROSS OCEANS
I am seeing the world. From South Asia to West Asia to Europe to Latin America. Film festivals offer glimpses of world culture. That is why I love International Film Festivals. It is your door to the world. It gives you the humanity on a platter. Not just places. Every country comes calling. Not just nations. Its culture. Its life. Its idiosyncracies. Its foreign policy. And, more importantly, the way a country presents itself to a world beyond its shores.
That is why I don’t want to miss International Film Festivals. The Bombay International Film Festival is finally (that is a different story and a different piece) here. This is my fifth such festival and the first one in Bombay. Having seen four world-class festivals in Trivandrum, its Bombay counterpart offers nothing much. It may be a harsh comment, but if one goes by the first three days' movie list, it is palpable. The packages and the audience speak for itself.
Even the opening film, The Chorus, a French Film, was a damp squib. The film, which narrates the story of a proctor at a correctional boarding school – something like our juvenile homes- failed to portray the chemistry between the ‘supervisor’ and students. Stuffing the movie with top-angle shots and camerawork added to the misery. In any case, it does not deserve the feat of being the opening film. An awful beginning, indeed.
The second day offered nothing more. If ever a movie can be judged by the first 10 minutes, then Ruchi Narain’s Kal was a big disappointment. I walked out in a huff and was relieved to learn from the audience later that the movie was a flopshow. My media friends told me Dombivli-Fast, a Marathi movie, that captures the city's lifeline (should I explain?), had taken them on a nostalgic trip. But I missed the train.
My search for a meaningful cinema ended with Bar Mitzwa, an Israeli film. A diligenty meshed film, it narrates a middle-class family's- which lives on the Israel-Lebanon border- troubled existence in harrowing circumstances. The camera travelled with the movie, unobtrusively. A football-crazy boy, sporting a Ronaldinho-style hairdo, turns out to be the best character in the movie with his visionary outlook. Maybe, the director wanted to show the world that there is hope in the GenNext of Israel, at least.
I hate Israel for everything it does. Or whatever it does not. Though occasionally I tried to understand how it could survive amid such unfriendly neighbours. And I always looked to that country through the hazy prism of its foreign policy. Never did I think about such families, who bear the brunt of any policy decisions. That is the impact a film can have on you. The boy's Bar Mitzwa celebration sermon left me in tears. The concluding line was visionary: “Let Israel be the most peaceful place on earth.”
I wish it were. If that happens, not just Israel, the entire West Asia, will embrace peace. Let violence come down from the Golan Heights and takes its stripes off at the Gaza Strip. Thousands of miles away, I burn a small candle for that ever-lasting peace. Amen.