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Habitat 2019: Cinephiles weigh in on favourites, reveal choices for upcoming screenings

The opening weekend at the 14th edition of the Habitat Film Festival was fully booked with a cross-section of Delhi making a beeline for the India Habitat Centre.

Queuing up at the registration desk at the 14th Habitat Film Festival

Yatharth Vohra

The 14th edition of the Habitat Film Festival, already something of a sensation in the Delhi film circuit with its multiple arthouse feature listings and discussions with filmmakers, could not have come at a better time for college students.

With their semesters ending, they had plenty of time to stay not just for one or two films but for the whole day on the first weekend. Sumit Kumar Giri, a second year Sanskrit major and theatre enthusiast from Ramjas college, spent the entire Saturday at the India Habitat Centre in the capital, watching five feature films and attending the panel discussion on the #MeToo movement.

"My favourite film of the lot, Aabhaasam (2018, Malayalam), showed a beautiful journey (sic)... I look forward to Hamid (2019, Urdu) now," he said. Asked what other films were on his to-watch list, he admitted he didn't know about the films in detail.

Many older Delhiites take up film-viewing as a pastime and it soon turns into a fascination. We caught one cheery couple, Ragini and Vinay Topa, members of the Habitat Film Club, on Sunday, after the screening of Bhor (Hindi). "Both the movies today were excellent," they said. "Naal (2018, Marathi) was about how a child reacts to his mother's affection. And this one [Bhor]. it was a mix of multiple social issues and humour!"

As film enthusiasts, it wasn't their first year at the festival. Just like for Bula Bhattacharya, a 61-year-old retired teacher and artist, who had attended the 12th and 13th editions as well. Bhattacharya watched only one movie on the first weekend, Jonaki (Bengali), and plans to watch only one more on Friday, Tarikh (2019, Bengali). These choices, she said, are made on the basis of her preferred language, Bengali, their synopses, and freshness in direction. 

Even film enthusiasts holding 9–5 jobs made their way to the festival when they could, on the weekend. Lawrence Dougal, a 38-year-old market analyst, took the weekend off to watch seven films over two days. He told Cinestaan, "I won't be around day after (sic), so I figured I would watch a few right now. I mainly come for the regional films, nothing specific."

Then there were those who are so desperate to avoid spoilers that they don't even wish to read the synopses. Gaurav Prateek, a mass communication diploma holder, is one such. Hamid and Nagarkirtan (2018, Bengali), the two films he plans to watch, were chosen only because of the international praise they have garnered. "Every year the films they screen are exceptional. Thematically, they are very nuanced (sic), something we don't think about every day, which is why I come every year," he explained.

The lineup gets exciting each day. And the next weekend is packed with not three, but four categories, including a new segment titled Student Films. Don't miss it!

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Habitat Film Festival