A mix of in-person talks, screenings and online offerings showcasing the best of Britain and South Asia on film…
OSCAR-WINNING director Asif Kapadia heads a list of prominent film personalities who will talk about their craft at this year’s Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (Liff).
Starting this Thursday (June 17), with the documentary feature, ‘W.O.M.B’ (‘Women of my Billion‘), the festival will run until July 4 in what is its 12th edition. This film charts the remarkable walk undertaken across the whole of India (some 4,000kms) by Srishti Bakshi, who looks to connect with other women and draw attention to inequalities – from the cities to the villages, and coastal districts to the interior of India.
This year the festival has both physical screenings and talks and online offerings.
Kapadia, who won both an Oscar and Bafta, for his documentary, ‘Amy’ (2015) , will talk about his career criss-crossing career, both in narrative fiction and documentary at the BFI Southbank.
The Special in Conversations will also see screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, writer-director Gurinder Chadha and iconic feminist filmmaker Pratibha Parmar talk about their work.
Kapadia’s breakthrough title, ‘The Warrior’ (2001) with the late great Irrfan Khan, Gurinder Chadha’s ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ (2002) and Kureishi’s groundbreaking ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ (1985), will all be screened during the festival.
The Conversation series also extends to Indian film personalities with an online edition in addition – in this strand Bollywood star director Karan Johar and South Indian cinema icon and singer Shruti Haasan will appear.
In a further nod to popular Indian cinema, Jhanvi Kapoor, the daughter of the legendary iconic Bollywood actor, Sridevi talks about her nascent career following in her late mother’s footsteps.
In addition, the festival will mark the 100th year birth anniversary of Satyajit Ray, India’s legendary filmmaker with Pam Cullen and Nasreen Munni Kabir talking about Ray and his legacy in an online session.
There is also a special tribute to Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee who died last year at the age of 85 and came to prominence for his role in Satyajit Ray’s final film in the Apur trilogy that began with ‘Pather Panchali’ (1955) and culminates with ‘Apur Sansar’ (1959) in which Chatterjee starred and debuted. A documentary not seen before in Europe comes to the festival and celebrates Chatterjee, who was more than just an actor, in ‘Abhijaan’ – directed by Parambrata Chattopadhyay.
Avtar Panesar from one of India’s biggest and most successful film studios, Yash Raj, will discuss the rise of Bollywood in Britain in the In Conversation line-up.
The festival will be present in three cities this year: London, Birmingham, and Manchester and closes with ‘Flight’ a British made film, written by award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta and directed by Alex Pillai and starring Roshan Seth (‘City of Tiny Lights’), Mina Anwar, and Kulvinder Ghir. There will be a post-screening Q&A with the director and cast at Cine Lumiere in London on July 2, closing the festival in the capital.
There are also British Asian shorts screening – a glimpse possibly of the next wave of filmmaking talent coming through the ranks.
There’s also a chance to see some older films which have been festival favourites in the past and which we have covered before – among these are ‘Court’ – director Chaitanya Tamhane’s brilliant debut narrative feature dissects India’s class and caste system with comedy, irony and bite. Tamhane’s ‘The Disciple’ won awards at last year’s Venice Film Festival. Also the British film, ‘One Crazy Thing’, from writer-director Amit Gupta, starring Ray Panthaki.
The film, ‘Hank and Asha’ came to Liff in 2014 and we hosted a reception and Q&A for it when it screened at the ICA in London that year. It stars Mahira Kakkar who played the mother character, Rupa Mehra, in Mira Nair’s ‘A Suitable Boy’ which screened on BBC TV last year. It was among our first videos. These films are available outside of the festival as part of Liff’s online programme.
Cary Rajinder Sawhney, founder and Liff Festival director, said: “We will be showcasing the unstoppable force that is India’s rich and diverse filmmaking, and of course the festival will be helping to highlight and support Covid charities working in South Asia.
“In this year when ‘Britishness’ is being re-defined, we offer our ‘Great British Asians’ strand which will celebrate British Asian filmmakers and throw a spotlight on exciting emerging talents”.
Alka Bagri, a trustee of the Bagri Foundation which supports the festival, alongside the BFI and the National Lottery, added: “It has been a difficult year for many these past 12 months, and we are pleased to support a little escape for you via Liff’s hybrid festival this year.
“Our seventh year as title sponsor showcases classic films and Q&As, as well as a range of UK premieres from some top British Asian and South Asian talent. Whether you attend in person, or watch from the comfort of your sofa, we hope you feel as excited as we are to see fresh faces and legendary stories from across Asian cinema!”
Ben Luxford, head of UK Wide Audiences at the BFI, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players we’re able to help bring this exciting programme to cinemas and households across the UK. The focus on British Asian filmmakers this year is a particular highlight.” The National Lottery raises £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.”
The festival is divided into eight specific subject strands and also has a British Sign Language Double Bill: ‘For each other & double discrimination’.
The strands are Young Rebel, Great British Asians, Extra-Ordinary Lives, Save the planet, Golden Age of Cinema, Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition, New British Asian shorts, Too Desi Too Queer (shorts), which includes ‘Stray Dogs Come Out at Night’ a British & Pakistani production.
Here are some www.asianculturevulture.com festival picks
Young Rebel strand…
Enfant terrible and definitely a rebel is writer-director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan whose ‘Kayattam’ (‘Ah’r) gets a London screening.
It is about a young couple who connect on social media in the south western state of Kerala and then go on a Himalayan trek together – and the challenges they face from older companions who become suspicious of them.
Sasidharan burst onto the world stage with ‘Sexy Durga’ in 2017. It won the highest award at Rotterdam Film Festival that year and is a brilliant and unusual road movie which sees a couple hitch a ride in a tempo van with a bunch of young men. Dark and edgy, it is a powerful statement that addresses patriarchy and violence. This film does the same.
Acv saw ‘Sexy Durga’ (known simply as ‘Durga’ in India) at Liff in 2017.
Listing: Thursday, June 24 6pm BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT
Great British Asians
Mutiny: Asians storm British Music and Pratibha Parmar’s films
It’s very hard to pick a single film from the Great British Asians section as all are terrific, but perhaps ‘Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music’, a documentary featuring the likes of Asian Dub Foundation, Talvin Singh and Fun^Da^Mental shouldn’t pass you by. Also unmissable are Pratibha Parmar’s work – both ‘British Asians – The Underground Generations’ and ‘Asian Artists in Emergence’. These are a series of short films that document British Asian life and provide a rich cultural commentary on the UK’s largest minority ethnic grouping.
Listing: Mutiny: British Asians storm music’ Friday, June 25, 8pm Rich Mix, 25-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Listing: Part I ‘Pratibha Parmar: British Asians – The Underground Generations’, Friday, June 25 6pm, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
Part II – ‘Pratibha Parmar – Asian Artists in Emergence’ , Saturday, June 26 3pm – Barbican
Gamak Ghar (The Village House)
Charting the coming and goings of a family through an ancestral house in North India is Achal Mishra’s debut feature. Described as, “astonishing…the feature film is the most intimate of epics, beautifully exploring the ebb and flow of family life in an ever-changing world”, by the festival, it begs viewing.
Listing: Available online from Monday, June 21 6pm. https://www.loveliffathome.com/film/gamak-ghar/
Save the Planet…
The Salt in our Waters – Nonajoler Kabbo
This debut feature was selected by Spike Lee and partially sponsored through his fellowship programme. ‘Rudio’ (Titas Zia) is an artist who retreats to coastal rural Bangladesh to work and is inspired by the sweeping coastal landscape, but the environment is threatened. A blossoming relationship with a young woman and tensions over what kind of art he makes leads to misunderstandings by a community feeling the pressures of their fragile existence, living off the sea. It had its world premiere at the London Film Festival last year and acv interviewed director Rezwan Shahriar Sumit. Read our review
Listing: Sunday, June 27 3pm, BFI Southbank,
Thursday, July 1, 8.30pm London Genesis, 93-95 Mile End, Bethnal Green, London E1 4UJ
Golden Age of Cinema
A chance to see one of the great classics of Indian cinema and on a big screen!
Set in the time of the Mughals and the court of Akbar the Great, Prince Salim (Dilip Kumar) is enchanted with a court dancer, Anarkali (Madhubala). Renowned for its music and choreography it is a testament to the power of Indian cinema.
Listing: Sunday, June 27 2pm – Cine Lumiere, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2 DT
For full listings, please see Liff 2021: https://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/
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