Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bitter/Sweet and Mamee a big hit in Mumbai

The Thai-Hollywood romance Bitter/Sweet made its Asian premiere at the recent Mumbai Film Festival. Lekha Shankar was there and she sent this report.

Story and photos by Lekha J. Shankar

Bitter Sweet. the Thai-American film that was a surprisingly not selected for the Bangkok International Film Festival, was a big hit at the Mumbai Film Festival, where it held its Asian premiere last week.

This year’s Mumbai fest was supported by Reliance Big Entertainment, the new entertainment wing of the mega Reliance Industries, and boasted big names like Hollywood screenwriter Paul Schrader, Theo Angelopoulis of Greece, Brilliante Mendoza of Philippines, etc.

The venue for the Bitter/Sweet screening, Fun Cinema Theatre 2, was packed to capacity with people sprawled on the floor and aisles, when lead actress Mamee Nakprasit walked in, wearing a gorgeous blue gown, accompanied by Bangkok-based Swiss producer Urs Brunner and his Thai wife Maleerat.

They watched the film with avid interest and gave a rousing ovation after the screening.

One youngster said it was her favorite film of the festival and wished more of her friends had managed to get seats for the “house-full” screening.

At a press conference following the screening, the media asked many questions about Krabi (where the film was shot), the coffee plantations of Thailand (which form the back-drop of the story) and the facilities for international film-shoots in Thailand (as this film had a big American team).

Mamee was asked if she would like to do a Bollywood film, and she agreed immediately, even singing excerpts from the Bollywood song to which she did a raunchy dance-number recently at the Superstar TV reality talent series.

Many were amused that Mamee’s name matched with the festival’s MAMI -- the festival organizer is the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image..

Producer Brunner later held a cocktail party at the Marimba Lounge adjacent to the Fun Cinema complex, which was attended by directors, programmers and media personnel.

Philip Cheah , former director of the Singapore International Film Festival and presently a programmer with the Locarno and Dubai festivals, told Mamee she “could be anything she wanted!”

Brunner and Mamee were happy to meet well-known Indian directors like Amol Palekar, Shaji Arun, Ketan Mehta and the new Bollywood box-office genius Anurag Kashyap

Mamee was in Mumbai for only two nights as she had to get back to Bangkok and rehearse Superstar. But she found time to sightsee, eat lunch at the legendary Taj Mahal Hotel and shop madly.

Meanwhile the new Director of the Mumbai festival, S Narayanan, said he would love to screen more Thai films next year.

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