Vidhu Vinod Chopra contributes 11 lakh to save MAMI

Ever since the reports of the annual Mumbai Film Festivals’ possible closure due to lack of sponsors and funds, started circulating, the social media campaign to save the festival gained tremendous momentum. In fact, Mumbai Film Fest (MFF) organizers have managed to raise Rs 1.5 crore out of the Rs 5 crore budget, with the support of a few filmmakers, a handful of cine enthusiasts, a movie critic and a corporate house.

The Mumbai Film Festival is organized by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI). It was founded by late filmmaker Shri Hrishikesh Mukherjee in the year 1997. Shri Shyam Benegal, a renowned filmmaker, heads the body that consists of film directors including young directors Farhan Akhtar, Umesh Kulkarni, Kiran Rao, Anurag Kashyap Vikramaditya Motwane, Karan Johar, director Sudhir Mishra, veteran film maker Ramesh Sippy, producer-director-lyricist Amit Khanna and publisher Navin Berry.

A big shock came recently when the conglomerate Reliance Entertainment that had magnanimously spent money to keep the festival alive for 5 long years, decided to withdraw its support. Sanjeev Lamba, CEO, Reliance Entertainment, was in the US, and could not be reached for a comment on why the company decided to not renew the sponsorship contract for the 2014 edition. The Maharashtra government offered a mere Rs 10 lakh for it.

However, relief came from an unexpected source, when Anand Mahindra's newly founded production company decided to contribute a sum of Rs 60 lakh. This is the highest contribution so far.  

Manish Mundhrawho is the producer of ‘Ankhon Dekhi’, last year's indie drama, , has also contributed a sizeable Rs 50 lakh. "It is appalling that a city with such a vibrant cinematic culture like Mumbai can't afford to put together a film festival. As a producer, it is my duty to extend financial support to keep MAMI alive," he said from Dubai on phone.

Famed filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, along with his movie-critic wife Anupama Chopra has contributed Rs 11 lakh. "I immediately called up Srinivasan Narayanan (Festival Director) and offered to pitch in. All international festivals abroad are backed by major corporate houses and that's a culture we need here as well," says Anupama.

Rajkumar Hirani, Hansal Mehta, Nilesh Navlakha and Vivek Kajaria are some of the other major contributors.

“Today, for the first time ever it truly feels that MFF belongs to the patrons and lovers of the festival,” MFF director Srinivasan Narayan said in a statement.

Also, to honor this year's saviors, the posters of the festival will mention the names of all contributors who have donated more than Rs 10 lakh for the event.