Saturday was the first time that I’d ventured to tinsel town in sixteen years of living here, but 100 year celebration of Cinema is reason enough.
“Fillum city?” I’d asked the man on the bike at the signal, our human GPRS better than any google maps. Incidentally, google maps place you in the middle of that green forest patch of Aarey milk colony, or what little remains of it. Before that I’d spent HOURS dredging up from memory the shortcuts the parent and I took in the 90’s and I was SURE one could reach Film city that way, but luckily better sense prevailed and I took the expressway. “Right and then sharp left and then…Follow me!” the man said, with a flourish entirely apt if he were galloping on a white steed instead of his bike, and that is how I reached the sylvan, forest-like enclave. Locating the Whistling Woods Film Institute (WWI) was yet another adventure, since there aren’t any people around at all as the road winds and turns up and down hill, and but of course I reached the wrong spot—the set of Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saraswatichandra… what an immense, grand set. After parking under a generous banyan, and trying to cajole a guard to stay parked there, I finally trundled my way to the institute quite some distance away… and what a marvelous place! The ebullient energy of the crowd, the neat installation art, a certain electric something in the air…the sheer confidence of the students--with all this wandering about I was late for the inaugural… but after waiting outside the auditorium, the guard was kind and allowed me in… jostling crowds that had to be seen to be believed. Was privileged to hear the greats—screenwriters Salim Khan, Subhash Ghai, Anjum Rajabali, directors Gauri Shinde, Anurag Basu, Amol Gupte, Vikramaditya Motwane, and then a special Q& A session with Vishal Bharadwaj…the evening topped up with a superhousefull screening of Bombay Talkies. Muchly grateful to Little Miss Blue, aka dhanno rani, for having steered me there and back safely, it was close to 9 PM when I got home… but what a treat!