In the year 1994, the documentary that won the Golden Conch at 'Bombay International Documentary Film Festival' was "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media" by directors Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick. Twenty years later, in February 2014, the festival, now known as Mumbai International Film Festival (Shorts, Animation, Documentary), had Mark Achbar as the head of one of its juries. Peter Wintonick had passed away less than three months ago and the festival began with a homage to him. "Manufacturing Consent" in these twenty years had already become one of the most famous documentaries in the world.
At the award function, the Mark Achbar led jury was also responsible for the four awards in the Short Fiction (National Competition) category. And three of those awards came our way, for our little Kashmiri film, Tamaash, the awards for Best Cinematography (Sahir Raza), Best Sound (Yatin Dabhi, Manoj Sikka, and Abhishek Bhattathiri), and Best Film. It was incredible and overwhelming, and perhaps the best part about it was something I could not experience - my family could watch the program live on National TV back home!
At the dinner after the awards, Mark and his wife gracefully approached me to congratulate me for the film. "Now I can talk with you", he said. We had a long chat, about our film, other films in competition, about the brother-duo in Devanshu and me, about how the Coen brothers work, and about the three years his wife had spent in Bombay as a kid way back in the 60s. However, the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me was when he said, just after the first line, "So is it you who writes the blog, or is it your brother?"
I was staring at his face with wide eyes and a shocked smile, wondering how he got to read my blog. "After watching your film, one of the jury members looked you up on Google. And he shared your blog with us. We read your post on 30 things you learnt while making a short film." It is a post more than two years old. Even I didn't remember if it were exactly 30 lessons and hence was not sure if it was this blog he had read. But then, mentioning the name of the blog made it clear.
Am I exaggerating when I say that this was perhaps as memorable a moment for me as it was going up the stage and winning the awards? This blog has been a sacred space for me, to talk about my love affair with the movies, and until now I have not actively shared it with people. But to know that Mark Achbar and other jury members came here on this cyber space and went through some of my articles is humbling and inspiring at the same time.
Thank you, my dear blog! You have been the source of very special joys!