They lost an opportunity to discuss the film with TIFF Co-Director Cameron Bailey, and they lost a chance to connect with over 1,000 people at the gala.
Desi audiences were looking forward to a high dosage of masala entertainment. The 36-year-old festival embraces arthouse movies like Shame as well as popular Bollywood and Hollywood films like Mausam and Moneygame.
There is hardly a major festival anywhere in the world that welcomes a variety of films as TIFF does. Over 800 feature films are submitted from more than 60 countries and just about 200 are chosen. The festival authorities announced on Tuesday, a day before Mausam's press screening, that the 160-minute long film (one of the longest to be screened at the festival) would not arrive.
The film's publicist had not been forthcoming about setting up interviews with the director and stars, only to admit after the cancellation that there was hope till Tuesday evening that the film could turn up after all.
"Now the talent is going back to India," said the publicist from the Falco agency. One journalist felt the artists and director Kapoor could still have met the media. "Don't they do it all the time with the desi press? I mean holding interviews with artists and directors without showing the film," said one journalist.
Just about 10 percent of the films shown at TIFF get to have a press conference. The festival authorities choose films from various genres for the press event. There is fierce competition to get the interview slot.
Festival insiders say there was a lot of angst over the unpredictable situation. The festival programmers try to make double sure that a print of the film will arrive on time.
Mausam is the only major film that did not turn up at TIFF in recent years. Ten years ago, in September 2001, the print of Shah Rukh Khan's Asoka was misplaced at New York's JFK airport amidst the 9/11 chaos.
Of the 200 films scheduled at TIFF just about three or four did not make it to the festival or came late and were shown on a day different from the schedule.
Since Mausam was scheduled to be shown on Wednesday --- the festival ends on Friday --- it was difficult to reschedule it.
What else did the Kapoors miss?
The adulation from Toronto's film-loving audiences is unbelievable. Even a flop film like What Is My Rashee? had a great gala here with a full house audience --- at least 1,000 people -- giving the film a standing ovation a few years ago.
"Shahid and Sonam missed a golden opportunity," said a young desi police cadet who was planning to see the film with his date and six friends. "They are not the only losers, we fans have lost a fine opportunity to see them. I wanted to take hundreds of pix at the red carpet gala."