Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival 2017: Two segments will celebrate the role of writing in cinema

Ankita Maneck

May,10 2017 11:28:55 IST

Indian cinema is growing by leaps and bounds. There are so many genres to explore, so many things to talk about. There's horror, history, documentaries, rom-coms, avant-garde. But there is a need to bring into focus the narrative which is the most integral part of cinema. Whether it is a narrative about cinema or something that can be adapted into a audio-visual format, stories are sacrosanct to cinema.

Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

That is why the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival has highlighted two segments that take a look at storytelling. There's a segment called 'Word to Screen' which was started in 2016, which helps writers and publishers translate their books into films by bringing them in direct contact with production houses, content creators and directors who might want to adapt their narratives onto the silver screen. For 2016, Abhishek Kapoor (who has helmed films like Fitoor, Kai Po Che!) and Jabeen Merchant (editor for films like NH10) were the jury members who helped decide the final shortlist.

This year, which marks the 19th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival, has Arpita Das as the curator of the segment. Das, who owns the independent publishing house Yoda Press, will use her expertise in the world of books to help publishing houses and studios find the right match. Das says about the segment, "The idea of the segment is the hope that the most exciting content can make it to the studios on that one day by pitching the most important point of the book."

Smriti Kiran, the creative director of the Jio Mami Film Festival, says about the Word to Screen Market, "The Word to Screen market was started last year... we have been wanting to do this for a very long time because the publishing world and the world of cinema need to come closer ... there is a lot of material already available in literature, not only classics, but also in contemporary writing. There are so many books available out there that would translate beautifully into a film or a web series."

Kiran adds, "So what we want to do with our Word to Screen market is to create a dialogue, to marry these two industries and take the cause of narratives forward. The people in the film industry constantly complaining that there is a dearth of good stories, but if we looked harder we will realise that there is a treasure trove of stories out there in the form of the written word. We want to curate a number of manuscripts that we feel are sort of adaptable to screen and we call top notch creators from production houses, and anyone who is in the business of acquiring content to join the conversation.In the west the exchange between the publishing world and the world of films is very systemised, and we are trying to bring the same in India — to slowly systemise the exchange so that books can be seamlessly adapted to the screen."

What is the criteria for selecting a book? Kiran says, "The larger, broader criteria is always how compelling the story is. Now the selection is subjective. We have a long list that might be 50 or 40 or 30 books which are shortlisted by our curator, Arpita Das."

Along with bring the written word to life, there's also the task of appreciating the written word about the silver screen. Because writing on films is so rare, Jio Mami's segment, Excellence in Writing on Cinema honours the writers who choose to write about the silver screen.

Winners for the year 2015 and 2016.

Winners for the year 2015 and 2016.

Started in 2015, the first Excellence in Writing on Cinema award went to Gaata Rahe Mera Dil by Balaji Vittal and Anirudha Bhattacharjee, which was a look at the behind-the-scenes of 50 classic hindi songs. In 2016, there was an award introduced for writing in Hindi too, The  Excellence in Writing on Cinema Award (Hindi) went to Anil Bhargava for which looked at the history of hindi and regional cinema in India. The Excellence in writing on Cinema Award (English) in favour of Jai Arjun Singh for The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee which took a look at the life and works of the filmmaker who made Anand, Chupke Chupke and Gol Maal.

Kiran says about the awards, "We began the Book Awards, that is also known as theExcellence in writing on Cinema in 2015. One of the things that we want to do is encourage engagement in writing about cinema, which is so rare. In 2015 when we started the awards, it was only open to english language books, but since there are great books on cinema in Hindi too, we started a segment for hindi books. The award is our way of saying thank you for encouraging more people to write on cinema. Because writing a book is a labour of love. If you know the kind of effort that goes into writing a book, it is exhausting, the amount of research and effort it involves. "

Arpita Das, who is curating this segment as well says, "We hope with this award publishers become keen to commission books on new kinds of cinema. For example, books on conversations, or books on the behind the scenes experience. These are the sort of genres we haven't seen in India and we are hoping with this award we can help bring forth new genres. Since this award is becoming a calendar award in the publishing industry that everyone looks forward to, maybe it can help."

Jio Mami is open for entries in both the segments today.

Updated Date: May 10, 2017 11:28 AM