Bollywood Big Names Bolster Mumbai Festival Opening

MUMBAI – The cream of Bollywood was out in force at the opening of the 18th Mumbai Film Festival on Thursday. Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated proceedings and called for a permanent hub for the festival that is currently spread out at venues across the city. The opening was at the newly restored 104-year-old Royal Opera House that had fallen into disrepair decades ago.

The festival opened under the shadow of the current tense political relationship between India and Pakistan, resulting in the pulling of 1959 Pakistani classic “The Day Shall Dawn” (“Jago Hua Savera”) from the program. Acknowledging this, festival director Anupama Chopra spoke of living in an atmosphere that is “fractured and confused”. “I won’t lie. It has been difficult,” Chopra said during her opening remarks.

But as is often the case in Mumbai, Bollywood rode to the rescue, papering over the fractures. Veteran actress Jaya Bachchan presented the Indian “Excellence in Cinema” award to director Sai Paranjpye, known for classics like “Sparsh” and “Chashme Buddoor.”

Bollywood superstar, Aamir Khan presented the international “Excellence in Cinema” award to Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke. “There are a lot of disparities in our societies and these can be solved by the movies,” Jia said during his acceptance speech.

Popular on Variety

Bollywood stars like Abhay Deol, Richa Chaddha, Kunal Kapoor and Huma Qureshi are serving on festival juries. International jurors include Yonfan, Reha Erdem, Stephanie Zachrek, Tala Hadid, Christine Vachon and Chris McDonald.

Festival sponsor Reliance Industries’ Nita Ambani announced a new award that will start next year – the Jio MAMI Award for Excellence in Digital Narrative Content. “Through this award we want to discover and celebrate, the talent and potential of our youth,” Ambani said.

The evening concluded with an all-vegetarian repast hosted by Mukesh Ambani and Nita Ambani at their $1 billion dollar private residence, Antilla.

More Film

  • JKR_DAY030_102518_0688465.dng

    How the Crafts of 'Joker' Tell Arthur Fleck’s Story

    The phenomenon that is “Joker” continues to break records, as Oscar buzz grows for Joaquin Phoenix and several other categories. It is a film filled with visual and sonic clues to help tell the story of his emotional journey – wherever it takes him. From the squeaking of the apartment door to the single cello [...]

  • John Turturro The Batman

    'The Batman': John Turturro to Play Carmine Falcone in New Film

    John Turturro is set to join the cast of Matt Reeves and Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson. Reeves announced on Twitter that Turturro would be playing Carmine Falcone, the Gotham City gangster and adversary to the Caped Crusader. He joins a cast that includes Zoe Kravitz, who will play Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, [...]

  • Dutch art dealer Jan Six and

    IDFA: Oeke Hoogendijk's 'My Rembrandt' Debuts Trailer Before World Premiere (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer to “My Rembrandt,” directed by Oeke Hoogendijk, which has its world premiere on Sunday in the Masters section of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The film is set in the world of the art market for paintings by the Dutch Old Master. While art collectors [...]

  • Martin Scorsese'The Irishman' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Martin Scorsese Honored by Palm Springs Film Festival for 'The Irishman'

    Martin Scorsese has been selected by the Palm Springs International Film Festival as the recipient of its Sonny Bono Visionary Award for “The Irishman.” He will be presented the award at the festival’s gala on Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival runs Jan. 2-13. “Martin Scorsese has directed another masterpiece about [...]

  • 'Sunless Shadows' Review: Piercing Iranian Doc

    IDFA Film Review: 'Sunless Shadows'

    “Listen to women” has become the mantra of the MeToo age, though films that entirely follow its simple directive remain relatively few. “Starless Dreams” was one: Mehrdad Oskouei’s superb 2016 documentary engaged in aching, revealing dialogue with multiple teenage girls in a Tehran juvenile correctional facility, lending an open, sympathetic ear to their stories of [...]

  • Trusted reindeer Sven and curious snowman

    'Frozen 2' Heads for Sizzling $130 Million North American Launch

    Disney’s “Frozen 2” is heading for a hot $130 million opening weekend at 4,400 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday. That’s well above the $100 million launch that Disney was forecasting for the sequel, which will provide a much-needed jolt to the moviegoing business. The 2019 North American box office trails last year by [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content