July 27 2015
- Lebara Play audience award went to Goan musical spectacular Nachom-ia Kumpasar (“Let’s Dance to the Rhythm”)
- Actor Manisha Koirala given Spirit of Inspiration award at special charity evening by Sunny Ahuja of sponsor Sun Mark Ltd
- Actor Suraj Sharma presented with Pure Heaven Outstanding Young Talent Award at opening and UK premiere of ‘Umrika’ film
- ICON Award for outstanding contribution to cinema given to director Mani Ratnam (See story on masterclass please)
- Satyajit Short Film award in association with main sponsors, Bagri Foundation goes to ‘Khargosh’ (Rabbit).
- Reviews on this page of Umrika, Nirbashito, 31st October, Monsoon and Meet the Patels…
FOR THE FIRST time, the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) presented special awards to major figures present for the two-city 10-day extravaganza of independent films from the sub-continent.
Actors Manisha Koirala (pictured right above with Sunny Ahuja from Sun Mark) and Suraj Sharma and director Mani Ratnam were all presented with awards.
He was given the festival’s Icon Award at a masterclass at the BFI Southbank last Sunday (July 18). Please see story.
Ratnam told LIFF: “I am honoured and humbled to receive this icon award. I think that Indian cinema is at the threshold of a new era, and The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival is a showcase for this next generation. I am sure that future awards will be won by some of the bright young talent that is coming up.”
He and actor Manisha Koirala attended a glittering dinner at Grange Hotel St Paul’s to raise money for the victims of the Nepal earthquake.
The evening included a screening of Ratnam’s “Bombay” in which Manisha Koirala made her name. The pair were celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary and participated in a special Q&A, moderated by Eastern Eye entertainment editor Asjad Nazir. A video of that will be coming out soon on youtube www.asianculturevulture.com. For the video of the evening see the link below.
Guests were also able to see the award-winning feature, “Siddharth” by Indo-Canadian Richie Mehta. His film about a father’s heartrending search for his missing son formed part of a special double bill. Tony Matharu, Grange Hotel’s owner and managing director did a Q&A with Mehta after the film.
Mehta also spoke to www.asianculturevulture.com about the festival in an interview to camera, to be published shortly.
Suraj Sharma’s new film, “Umrika” memorably opened the festival on July 16. This year’s Sundance audience favourite was a reflective and largely entertaining piece of cinema on the changing face of immigration as seen from a 1980s Indian/Punjabi perspective. (See review below).
Sharma thrilled on the red carpet and was popular and friendly during his brief stay at the festival.
“Nachom” (pictured above left), which was premiered in and around Goa in 2014, is something of a sleeper hit and has wowed everywhere it has gone. It screened three times at the festival and to packed theatres each time and was probably the feature seen by the largest number of people during the festival.
Made on a budget of around £275,000, raised through crowdfunding, the Goan film recreates the sights and sounds of 1960s Bombay.
The makers were inspired by the music of the time – and contend that much of it, which came to dominate mainstream Indian cinema (Bollywood) – was Goan in origin but never properly recognised and the songwriters and singers of that period passed into obscurity – until now.
The film also picked up two national awards in India last year – winning best Konkan (the language it is in) and best production design.
Some critics pointed out that “Nachom” succeeded where Anurag Kayshap’s “Bombay Velvet”, a film also inspired by the city’s 1960s Indian Jazz scene, failed on a budget of around £10m.
Bardoy Barretto, director of “Nachom”, told LIFF: “I am grateful for this award and to the team that made this happen. It goes to show that every region, every culture has its own authentic stories, that today’s global audience is willing to celebrate, but when it stays true to its local audience.
“This film was our tribute to the music and musicians of Goa, and this award reiterates the need to keep it alive in every way possible. I thank Goa for the music.”
Sudarshan Suresh, winner of the Satyajit Ray short film award, said: “My heartfelt thanks to the Jury, and the amazing organisers and volunteers that make LIFF what it is.” He won the £1,000 cash award for his film. Khargosh (Rabbit).
The festival ended on Thursday (July 23) in London with the gala screening for the cricket film, “Death of a Gentleman”. It releases on August 7 in the UK and we will have more on it next month.
Cary Sawhney, director of LIFF, said: “We are really pleased that this year, the festival has expanded in stature and that we can highlight through our new awards just some of the many achievements of filmmakers and actors from India who may otherwise go unsung by the broader world film community.”
The film festival went to Birmingham for the first time this year and came to an end officially in the city yesterday evening (July 26).
” – A simple story of a village boy heading to America or ‘Umrika’ as it is known in his Punjabi village, is an evocative and nostalgic tale about 1980s India and the Indian American dream. Just don’t tell Bobby Jindal (the Republican Louisiana governor, who recently said he was fed up of hyphenated Americans). Second time feature director Prashant Nair gets good performances from both Suraj Sharma and Tony Revolori (last most famously seen in Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”). That Revolori is American and of Guatemalan descent matters not. Sharma was his unofficial dialogue coach and the two have solid on screen chemistry as two best friends on a journey that will have you rooting for them both. Highly topical, we see what it takes to leave everything behind for the lure of a new and better life…(SR)
ACV rating: *** (out of five)
“Nirbashito” – Based on the true story of an unusually bold woman, the novelist Taslima Nasreen, this film is the creation of another woman, the talented Churni Ganguly, who has written and directed the film and also played the role of the protagonist.
Three stories run side by side through the film: the story of the woman writer who is exiled, the story of how her friends try to send her cat to Sweden and the tale of the wife of the writer’s male friend. She hates the importance the writer has in her husband’s life and hints at a relationship. These three stories balance each other out. The first thread is gritty and grey, the second is a farce and the third is subtly dramatic.
This film with poetic visuals has won the national award for the best Bengali film in India. A must see for those who care about the freedom of expression. (SP)
ACV rating: **** ½
“31st October” – Harrowing and painful, this is a powerful film that does not shy away from the horrors of what happened in Delhi on October 31, 1984 – the day India’s prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards.
As day turned to night, the city was in flames as mobs set about seeking retribution on anyone they could get their hands on wearing a turban.
Harry Sachdeva in his first film pulls you in with a likeable Dad (Indian comedian Vir Das in his first straight role) and his tight-knit family. His wife (Soha Ali Khan) becomes the very epitome of stoicism in highly trying circumstances. Sachdeva’s story is based on true events and is tense and cinematically thrilling and uncomfortable, as it should be.
The violence is sometimes graphic and repetitive. Sachdeva has staked a lot on this – selling his life’s assets to make this film. It is important as a document and may enjoy a longer and more fruitful life outside India – (as a film and not sectarian propaganda) – where sensitivities remain too raw and overtly political for it to be screened there. Sachdeva gave a short interview to www.asianculturevulture.com about the film to camera and it will be coming to you asianculturevulture.com youtube. (SR)
ACV rating: ***
“Monsoon” – In this stunning film, director Sturla Gunnarson takes on the challenge by travelling across the whole of India to illustrate the full degree of monsoon season and it affects everyone. On the journey we meet fishermen, meteorologists, local residents, farmers and many others who all pray for rain while also fearing it.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film was the insight given into the relationship between the Indian economy and the monsoon; with one careless weather statement by the India Meteorological Department having the potential to rattle the stock markets. Farmers also commit suicide, when drought hits.
It was refreshing to see people actually enjoying the heavy showers, with Gunnarson showing audiences a rejoicing of raindrops, compared to the dull dreary attitude to this kind of weather in England. Audiences are treated to a graceful score by composer, Andrew T. Mackay (Bombay Dub Orchestra), which compliments the cinematography perfectly. It was disappointing the film did not cover climate change – which is having an effect on monsoons. However, this is a film more for appreciating the beauty of the country, and her people. But be warned…you’ll be dying to hop on the next plane to India to experience it for yourself. (TM)
ACV rating: ***
“Meet the Patels” – AFTER breaking up with his long term girlfriend, Audrey (an American woman who had been kept a secret for two years) Ravi, almost 30 and single, realises that it may time to open his mind to a prospect which he had rubbished and resisted against for many years.
So begins the search for his perfect bride with the help of his Mum and Dad; an extremely happy couple themselves despite only meeting for ten minutes before their own marriage. And with Ravi’s filmmaker sister, Geeta in tow, what started out as random home videos has become a hilarious documentary.
However, despite taking the plunge into this entirely new world of dating, something is holding Ravi back and amongst the raucous laughter from the audience, this film is equally as touching and heart-warming.
So while “Meet The Patels” is a laugh-out-loud comedy that all can relate to, it’s also a film about family values, love, culture, tradition, generational conflicts and so much more. Word of advice: watch it with your parents if they’re pressuring you to get married. I guarantee that it will make you all understand each other that little bit better…(TM)
ACV rating: ***** (yes, five out of five!)
Reviews: Sunayana Panda, Sailesh Ram and Tasha Mathur
‘Tigers’ – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/liff-2015-review-tigers-framing-the-corporate-jungle/
‘The Master: Shyam Benegal – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/liff-2015-review-the-master-shyam-benegal-vivid-testimonies/