The news that actress Deepika Padukone had replaced producer Kiran Rao as the chairperson of the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) had come as a surprise to many. The reason that was given for the replacement was that Kiran had decided to step down as she wanted to focus on making a movie. However, now reports have emerged that paint an entirely different picture.
According to HuffPost India, sources, who are close to the developments, have revealed that the reason Deepika was chosen was because, as chairperson, she will ensure the festival gets the financial support the organisation needs to stay afloat.
The decision to appoint Deepika as chairperson had been taken on January 17 at a meeting at festival director Anupama Chopra’s office in Mumbai. It was attended by MAMI creative director Smriti Kiran, Kaustubh Dhavse, who is joint secretary of the government of Maharashtra, filmmakers Siddharth Roy Kapur, Rohan Sippy, Zoya Akhtar, Kiran Rao, Vikramaditya Motwane, Kabir Khan, Vishal Bhardwaj, along with Deepika.
The sources revealed that even though the decision was unanimous, Deepika herself had reservations about it, and was not entirely sure about the idea which by her own admission she has little knowledge about.
“She didn’t ever claim to have any knowledge about film festivals or any expertise on art house cinema. In fact, she asked several times, ‘are you guys sure about this? Should we really do this?'” a source revealed on condition of anonymity.
The source also revealed that Deepika said she would not be making a commitment of five years and will only be on board for a year to see how things go. When asked why the board was set on having her as the chairperson, the source said it was to keep the big sponsors happy.
“Unfortunately, marketing the festival and ensuring the money keeps coming in has become one of the dominant features. And for better or the worse, Bollywood is the only way that the sponsors will stick around as the presence of a top star ensures tremendous media coverage,” the source stated.
Another source that HuffPost India spoke to also confirmed that it was all a strategic marketing move that will ensure the organisation remains visible.
“Look, if you try to be a purist about it, you won’t have a festival in the first place. Now, the presence of stars ensures a certain visibility which doesn’t restrict the festival to an art-house bubble of cinema elites. It helps MAMI go mainstream. That was a motivating factor to have her on board and nobody complained,” the had added.
Before Deepika was decided upon, actor Priyanka Chopra and filmmaker Karan Johar had been the other stars who were under consideration for the position.