A few tips on surviving film festivals, or life

1. Do your best to go with someone. Beg, borrow, steal, or call a professional escort service, if you have to. But don’t; please don’t venture into a film festival on your own. Firstly, it announces to everyone how friendless and boring you are, but more dangerously, it attracts other friendless and boring people to latch on to you.

2. If you really have no choice in the matter, and have to go it alone, then seek attention blatantly, with loads of make-up and attitude, and outrageous clothes, declaring that you are alone because most people bore you, and it’s so mediocre to hang around in mobs. Be sure to carry expensive accessories, a designer handbag and the latest cell phone. Don’t wander down to the corner chai wallah with the hordes, but buy the ridiculously expensive coffee inside the multiplex as that is all you drink. In short, do everything you possibly can to underline how exclusive you are.

3. Don’t queue up for the films; hang around pretending that you have seats reserved as a special invitee. Even if it means sneaking in after lights off, and sitting in the aisle. If you have the remotest connection to any filmmaker, crewmember or actor, who is in a festival film, be sure to attend the screening, even if it means missing the latest Jiri Menzel film. Soon, people will begin to appreciate the attention you give them, and actually start sending you special invites. People may even start asking you for your opinion on their film. Make sure to have some sufficiently abstruse comments ready. Don’t ever, ever say that you liked the film. Shudder!

4. Make sure to spend most of your time between films either in the washroom, repairing your battle paint, or on your cell phone, looking suitably annoyed and busy, as if you are warding off calls that threaten to drag you to more important work than watching films. Make sure to actually disappear for a screening or two, even if you have to spend it wandering around the city aimlessly. Take a day off; it’s terrible to be seen for all the films, on all the days of the festival. It just tells everyone that you are, as usual, out of work.

5. Please arrive in a car, preferably chauffeur driven, or a taxi. It’s pathetic to walk in, sweaty from the sun, or frizzy haired from a rickshaw drive. Leave in your own car or taxi. Don’t, under any circumstances, scrounge around for a lift. Especially if you are female. It implies you are incapable of negotiating the city on your own, after dark, and need male protection.

6. Approach and talk to people who are more successful than you. Flatter them for a while, and leave before they look bored. If someone less successful than you approaches you, talk to them with an unsmiling politeness for a while, and then start looking bored, making it clear that they need to leave you alone now.

7. Don’t smile.

8. Don’t wander in car parks, with a mistaken idea of finishing off your daily walk routine, unless you are looking for illicit sex, drugs or a quarter of rum. Exercise at home.

9. Despite all these measures, there will still be people who want to talk to you. Keep fake phone numbers, and email ids rehearsed, so that they come out pat. Unless you want to be pestered with friendly calls, text messages and emails from people you are not going to remember the next day.

10. Also keep a personal story rehearsed. There are always some types who can get you spilling out your darkest secrets. There is nothing more embarrassing than sharing a significant moment or sharing a personal secret with an interesting stranger, a potential friend, and then having him or her ignore you after the next film, because they are talking to someone more interesting than you. It cannot be emphasized enough, you must learn to ignore people before they ignore you.

11. As for watching the films, do watch a few. Preferably those with the longest queues, most sex scenes and most awards. If you must, catch up with the other films on DVD, for party conversations. Remember a film festival is not about watching films; it is about being noticed.

12. Learn how to shout “You f….ing bastard” every time a cell phone rings in the auditorium. Cluck-clucking or muttering to yourself in frustrated rage is ineffectual and old-womanly. Don’t sit next to old people, as they usually don’t know how to switch off their cell phones. Or young people, who have taken an oath never to switch off their cell phones until they die. Keep your own cell phone switched off.

13. Cultivate journalists, all breeds. They come in very handy, whether it is to create a buzz around you when you need it, or getting you the invite to the closing ceremony party.

14. However, if you are not invited to the closing ceremony party, pretend you are not going, because you find these events so boring. Imply you have better things to do. Hint that those better things are with Shahrukh Khan. Make sure you don’t do that in front of any real friends of Shahrukh Khan.

15. Good luck!


  1. Banno, nothing would make me happier than hanging out at a film festival with you, no matter how bored you looked in an attempt to get rid of me.


  2. Please let me hang around you for the next one as your Less Successful Friend. It will give you a touch of class to have your very own Groupies !

  3. Hey Memsaab, Suniti, what fun it would be to hang out together, and look classily bored together. Do, do let’s do it some day.

    Dipali, Oh yes!

  4. 16. Do not tell anyone that you have attended a film festival otherwise people will pester you with silly questions: Did you watch this movie? Did you meet anyone? Did you… ? Did you… ? What did you… ?

    So, what films did you watch?


  5. Absolutely fabulously amazing!
    I am most inspired by #12- makes me want to go to the movies at least, and utter those immortal words.

  6. to be the groupie. we could giggle in corners, roll our eyes when people pass us by and do other cool things i have never done before!

  7. 3 movies a day?! So that would be 24 films in total? I hope you remember all the films you saw. Any good films you saw?

  8. Sur, yes, I know. Would be fun doing that instead of watching films, for a change.

    Projekt Iview, 21 films, I hope I do remember them. I know I should have made notes, instead of having coffee outside between each film.

    The films I liked, ‘Katyn’, ‘4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days’, ‘A man’s job’, ‘The Mourning forest’

  9. what a most excellent post! although I am not sure if I am further depressed or just in catharsis from reading it..

  10. I would have loved to go with you! We could have hung out wearing dark sunglasses and having absurd pseudo-conversations about the films for other people to overhear. It would have been fun!

  11. Totally agree. I always run out of visiting cards at film festivals having distributed them to people who keep asking for my number –with no intention of ever calling me up.

  12. Great piece of gyan.
    Though I dont get opportunities to hang around with film wallas,it was fun reading.

  13. Thanks, Mad Munky,Paro, Madeleine, Abhishek.

    Oh yes, Indeterminacy, the sun glasses are a must. I do pretty good bewildered myself.

    Toe knee, don’t waste those visiting cards.

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