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MAMI 2017: How Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz became the opening film


Despite being on the board of trustees for the festival, the filmmaker says he didn’t have any insider pull for Mukkabaaz to open the 19th edition of the Mumbai festival.

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Sonal Pandya

Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming film Mukkabaaz was chosen as the opening film for the 19th Mumbai film festival. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will have its Asian premiere at home.

MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2017 to kick off with Anurag Kashyap's Mukkabaaz

At a press conference on Thursday to announce the festival lineup, the filmmaker, along with MAMI chairperson Kiran Rao and festival director Anupama Chopra, was asked about the conflict of interest in the selection of his film for the festival.

Rohan Sippy, a fellow board member with Kashyap, joked that he told Anurag to expect questions about nepotism.

Chopra replied, “It’s a valid question. Of course we know Anurag closely and he has been a great supporter of the festival, but I also know that if we saw the film and said it did not work for us, there would be no issue. So, the fact that he is somebody we know well did not compel us in any way.”

Kashyap chimed in to tell the story of how his film got chosen. Creative director Smriti Kiran asked Kashyap if she could see the film. “She came and saw the film," he said. "Two days later, she calls me and says, give me the film. I said, give you for what?”

Actor Vineet Kumar Singh as the lead character

Kashyap did not think the film qualified to be shown in any section and wondered if there could be a secret screening. “Suddenly, much later, all of them saw the film, then she called me and said, ‘We want to make it an opening film’. I said I have to ask my producer [Aanand L Rai] first,” Kashyap said.

The filmmaker said Mukkabaaz's selection was a moment of pride for him. “I was very happy. My film has never played at MAMI. Also, to premiere at MAMI, I lost the big Asian premiere at Busan,” he revealed. It was a choice he had to make.

Mukkabaaz, a sports film about an underdog boxer from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, is due to be released in India on 10 November.

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