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London Indian Film Festival 2015 (LIFF 2015) – Stars to shine…

London Indian Film Festival 2015 (LIFF 2015) – Stars to shine…

July 6 2015

Europe’s largest platform for independent Indian cinema starts next week and as always there is an eclectic and intriguing mix with more than a dollop of star dust to boot…

SEVERAL big name stars from the world of Indian cinema are heading to the capital for the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) next week.

The 10-day long films’ extravaganza, which starts on Thursday (July 16), opens with Sundance audience favourite “Umrika”, starring Suraj Sharma (- from “Life of Pi” and “Million Dollar Arm”, which played in last year’s fest -) with organisers hoping he will provided added glitz to the red carpet launch.

Bollywood star watchers will be thrilled by the prospect of rubbing shoulders with screen siren Manisha Koirala, at a special charity dinner, in aid of the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, hosted by one of the festival sponsors, Grange Hotels.

They will also get a chance to see star Konkona Sen Sharma, who will be presenting two of her films at the festival. Director Ananth Mahadevan will join her for “Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File“.

There is also a world premiere of a Soha Ali Khan picture, “31st October” and with the star’s mother, Sharmila Tagore, already in London, there is a strong suspicion that daughter Khan will also appear at the festival.

Now in its sixth edition, the festival, which extends to three further days in Birmingham for the first time, from July 23, will also welcome Bollywood/Tamil auteur Mani Ratnam for a special screen talk.

From the documentary, 'The Master - Shyam Benegal (pictured top middle)

This year for the first time, the Bagri Foundation has taken over the headline sponsorship and will be supporting the ever popular Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, which sees both Indian and British Asian filmmakers go up against each other for the prestigious prize; and the foundation supports the documentary strand of the festival.

In the midst of an Ashes summer, there are expected to be some stars from the cricket world for the festival gala closing screening, “Death of A Gentleman” on Thursday, July 23.

A hard-hitting documentary about the world of cricket, it is an expansive investigation into the health of the game and clocks up the air miles as it seeks out the truth from Melbourne to Mumbai and London to Dubai (head of the International Cricket Council, the game’s governing body). Director Sam Collins subjects to himself to a Q&A and organisers say there will be “other special guests”.

There is also a special documentary on one of the great directors to have emerged from the independent filmmaking scene in India. The director has enjoyed longevity in what can be a tricky and fickle business at the best of times.

Director and critic Khalid Mohamed explores and evaluates the work of Shyam Benegal in “The Master: Shyam Benegal”.

Screen idols Shabana Azmi and Kareena Kapoor are among those who talk about a filmmaker who has won many hearts and minds in a career spanning more than 40 years now.

Films such as “Amkur” (1973), “Nishant” (1975), “Manthan” (1976) and “Bhumika” (1977) created an almost completely new genre with serious subjects and serious treatments.

Bhumika” has a strongly feminist edge and it shows how progressive and forward-looking Benegal was for a director of the time.

In 2001, he stepped into the world of Bollywood proper, making “Zubeidaa” with Karishma Kapoor in the lead, and AR Rahman doing the music.

In 2005, Benegal received the highest accolade for a figure in Indian cinema, collecting a Dadasaheb Phalke Award, named after the founder of moving pictures in India. The film screens on Thursday, July 17 at 6.15pm at BFI Southbank.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, LIFF executive and programming director, said:“It is wonderful that the festival is expanding so rapidly in stature and reach, proving there is an un-tapped market for Indian independent cinema with UK audiences.”

Want to know more about opening and closing gala screenings and the charity event, please click HERE.

We were one one of the sponsors last here and held a special screening of the US independent romcom, ‘Hank and Asha

We also memorably covered the opening gala screening of the film, “Sold“, produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson. See the picture gallery HERE.

Main picture: (clockwise) Manisha Koirala; Shyam Benegal; Suraj Sharma and Tony Revolori in ‘Umrika’; Mani Ratnam; Konkana Sen Sharma in ‘Sari Raat’; Soha Ali Khan in ’31st October’

Five films to look out for

Among them is “Court”, which featured at the London Film Festival in 2014. So too did “Labour of Love” – we have interviews with the directors of both films…coming to the site soon!

Our select five (in no particular order)

LIFF2015.1.TIGERS1. “Tigers” – features Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi, making the crossover into his Western-made and directed film. Hashmi plays a Pakistani pharmaceutical executive to a western-headquartered firm and rises through the ranks with the release of a new baby formula food in Pakistan. Disaster strikes when he realises it is lethal and he decides to fight his former employers. A David and Goliath battle, it is directed by Danis Tanović, who won a best foreign language feature Oscar for “No Man’s Land” in 2001. It will be a UK premiere for “Tigers” which is in Urdu, English and German. “Special guests expected” – now who could that be??
Screens Friday, July 17, 6.30pm – Cineworld Haymarket, 63-65 Haymarket SW1Y4RL Tickets/info:
Sunday, July 19, 7pm – Picturehouse Central, Corner of Great Windmill Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly London W17DH. Tickets/info:

Liff2015.2.MEET THE PATELS2. “Meet the Patels” is a highly original and quirky-looking fly-on-the-well inspired documentary charting one man’s search for love in the US. Ravi Patel is persuaded his parents can help him find his dream bride, and so begins the ultimate quest…and all is fine until Audrey, Ravi’s ex turns up…but how serious is this?? It’s the film’s European premiere.
Saturday, July 18 – 7pm, Cineworld Wembley Unit 107, London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Ticket/info:
Wednesday, July 22 – 8.45pm, BFI Southbank, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South BankLondon SE1 8XT Ticket/info click here please.

forleadCOURT_Still_13.“Court” – Wry, amusing, absorbing, Chaitanya Tamhane’s debut film impressed critics at its 2014 Venice Film Festival premiere and is a beautifully constructed drama about some of the absurdities lurking within India’s arcane legal system. A folk singer is charged with ‘inciting’ a sewer worker to commit suicide. He never met the man and the closest they ever got was at a folk concert with the artist singing on a make-shift stage in front of an audience of locals… but the singer is regarded as ‘a threat to national security’. There are shades of the real life documentary, “Jai Bhim Comrade” (2011) by the master chronicler of the dispossessed in India, Anand Patwardhan, who shows how low caste folk artists and activists are often harassed by local cops. Tamhane’s explores the life of the two opposing lawyers, showing that class and caste also can play a part in hidden (in)justice.
Monday, July 20, 6.30pm – Cineworld Haymarket Tickets/info:
Tuesday, July 21, 8pm – Cineworld Haymarket Tickets/info: same link

liff2015.5.31ST OCTOBER4. “31st October” – Soha Ali Khan, brother of Bollywood megastar, Saif Ali Khan, and daughter of one time screen idol Sharmila Tagore, is the star of this film based on the events of October 31, 1984. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was gunned down by her own Sikh bodyguards following the storming of the holy Golden Temple in Amritsar, as her government waged a bloody battle against Sikh militants who wanted a separate state. Indira’s death led to very dark days for India, as Hindu mobs launched terrifying reprisal attacks against unsuspecting Sikh families in Delhi. Directed by Shivaji Lotan Patil, “special guests are expected”. Screens Saturday, July 18, 6pm – Picturehouse Central. Tickets/info:; Monday, July 20, 7pm – Cineworld Wandsworth. Tickets/info:

liff2015.3.ONE CRAZY THING4. “One Crazy Thing” Amit Gupta’s third film is a delightfully low-key and gently paced comedy about a soap star (Ray Panthaki) whose career crumbles before his very eyes when a tape of his bedroom activities with his actor girlfriend gets round the world, via the internet. All is woe, until he meets Hannah, but the romance hardly runs smoothly as his past life threatens to undermine their blossoming friendship. See interview with Amit Gupta for more… The director is billed to do a Q&A after the screening. Tuesday, July 21, 7pm – Cineworld Wembley. Ticket/Booking info:

Handy at a glance schedule…

Thursday, July 16 – 6pm -‘Umrika‘ – Opening gala film (see for further detail)
Director Prashant Nair and ‘other special guests’ expected.

Thursday, July 23 – ‘Death of a Gentleman‘ – Closing Gala (London) film with director Sam Collins Q&A and “other special guests”.

Friday, July 17
‘The Master: Shyam Benegal’ 6.15pm – Southbank
Labour of Love‘ (Asha Jaoar Majhe) Two people, two stories but how do they connect? – 6.15pm ICA (Q&A with director Aditya Vikram Sengupta)
‘Dhanak’ Family friendly and a winner in Berlin for its category, this films explores the relationship between a 10 year old girl and her blind 8-year-old-brother who is a Salman Khan fanatic. Who should be filming in their home state of Rajasthan – 6.30pm Cineworld Wood Green
‘Tigers’ – 6.30pm Cineworld Haymarket
‘Saari Raat’ (‘All Night’) Directed by Konkona Sen’s mother, Aprana, a couple are waylaid by a storm and take shelter in what they think is an abandoned house but an old man turns up who is by turns, hospitable and hostile, setting the scence for some uncomfortable insights for the couple – 8pm Cineworld Wembley, Konkona Sen Sharma Q&A

Saturday, July 18
‘M Cream’ A group of well to do students go in search of some serious hash, the subject of the title and what they find on their journey proves unexpected and illuminating, starring the children of two well-respected veteran actors, Imaad Shah (son of Naseeruddin Shah) and Ira Dubey (daughter of Lilette Dubey) – 6.30pm ICA
‘Gouri Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File’ Based on the real life story of Hari Gaur Das, a veteran Gandhian figure, asked to prove his role in Independence for a special state pension, he confronts doubt everywhere including from his own wife, played by Konkona Sen – 5.40pm BFI Southbank Ananth Mahadevan director Q&A
The Crow’s Egg (‘Kaakaa Muttai’) Two young slum dwellers marvel at the pizza parlour that has just opened near them but one pizza costs as much their whole family earns in a month and if they want to savour the foreign delicacy, an enterprising and adventurous approach is required – 6.30pm – Cineworld Wandsworth
‘Meet the Patels’ – 7pm, Cineworld Wembley
‘Nachom-IA Kumpasar’ A Tribute to jazz and Goa with the legendary Bollywood singer Mohammed Rafi turning out for a cameo – 8pm, Cineworld Haymarket
‘31st October’ – 6pm, Picturehouse Central

Sunday, July 19
‘Dhanak’ – 3pm ICA
Mani Ratnam Screen Talk – 3pm, BFI Southbank
‘Haraamkhor’ (The Wretched) A teacher (played by rising star Nawazuddin Siddiqui) finds himself dangerously attracted to one of his students as modernity and progress seem to be making their inexorable march in every direction; directed by debutant Shlok Sharma who has worked with indie king Anurag Kashyap, there is gathering tension and something or someone has to break – 3pm, Cineworld 02
Saari Raat (All Night) – 4.30pm, Picturehouse Central
‘Tigers’ – 7pm, Picturehouse Central
‘Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File’ – 6pm, Cineworld Wembley
‘Khawada’ (Obstacle) About a wandering shepherd family trying to find economic salvation and running up against some familiar and unfamiliar foes, and set against the background of the sweeping Marathi countryside, this film was given special recognition during India’s national cinema awards – 6pm, ICA
The Crow’s Egg – 6.30pm, BFI Southbank.

Monday, July 20
‘Monsoon’, Documentary shot in 4K about the rainy season and crisscrossing much of the country, directed by Sturla Gunnarson with a musical score from Londoner Andrew T Mackay and based on Malhar ragas (classical music inspired by rains) – 6.45pm, Picturehouse Central
‘Court’ – 6.30pm, Cineworld Haymarket
‘Nachom- IA Kumpasar’ – 7pm ,Cineworld, Wembley.
‘Khwada’ – 7pm, Cineworld02.
‘31st October’ – 7pm, Cineworld, Wandsworth
‘The Last Adieu’ Documentary assembled by Shabnam Sukhdev, whose father was a celebrated fillmaker and hung out with stars such as Amitabh Bachchan – 7pm, Cineworld, Wood Green

Tuesday, July 21
Satyajit Ray Short Film competition – 6.15pm, ICA
‘Haraamkhor’ – 6.45pm, Picturehouse Central.
Nepal charity event with Manisha Koirala and screening ‘Bombay’ – 7pm, Grange Hotel, St Pauls
‘Monsoon’ – 7pm, Cineworld 02
‘One Crazy Thing’ – 7pm, Cineworld Wembley
‘Court’ – 8pm, Cineworld, Haymarket
‘Nirbashito’ (Banished) This award-winning film is informed loosely by the experience of Bangladeshi novelist Taslima Nasreen, and charts the journey of an unnamed writer who is forced into exile from her native Bengal and flees to Scandinavia where she finds a different form of hostility and misunderstanding – 8pm, BFI Southbank

Wednesday, July 22
‘The Last Adieu’ – 6.15pm, ICA
‘Dhanak’ – 7pm Cineworld, Wandsworth
‘M Cream’ 7pm, Cineworld Wembley
‘Meet The Patels’ – 8.45pm, BFI Southbank
‘Nirbashito’ – 7pm, Cineworld Wood Green

Birmingham screenings
Monday, July 20
‘Labour of Love’ – 6.30pm, Cineworld, Broad Street
Tuesday, July 21
‘M Cream’ – 6pm Cineworld Broad Street
‘Labour of Love’ – 8pm, Mac Cinema, Cannon Hill Park
Wednesday, July 22
‘Monsoon’ – 7pm, Cineworld Broad Street
Thursday, July 23
‘Dhanak’ – 6.30pm, Cineworld Broad Street
‘Monsoon – 8pm, Mac Cinema, Cannon Hill Park
Friday, July 24
‘The Crow’s Egg – 2pm, Mac Cinema
Saturday, July 25
‘Dhanak’ – 6pm Mac Cinema
Sunday, July 26
‘Khwada’ – 3pm, Mac Cinema

*Please check all listings with website for up-to-date information

London schedule:
Birmingham schedule:

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture