Film - Theatre - Music/Dance - Books - TV - Gallery - Art - Fashion/Lifestyle - Video

UK Asian Film Festival 2021 – Six feature films to look out for; new talent shorts inspired by Satyajit Ray; India charity appeal and Nina Wadia in conversation…

UK Asian Film Festival 2021 – Six feature films to look out for; new talent shorts inspired by Satyajit Ray; India charity appeal and Nina Wadia in conversation…

🎥Mix of both physical screenings and online – hybrid
🎥Will highlight British Asian Trust Emergency Oxygen for India Emergency Appeal
🎥Star Nina Wadia to appear in Q&A
🎥Premieres including British Asian ‘Granada Nights’ with Antonio Akeel, and controversial Pakistani, ‘Zindagi Tamasha’ (‘Circus of Life’)
🎥Recorded Q&As with directors/talent to screen after films
🎥Festival has screenings in London, Leicester & Coventry
🎥Opens with indie star-studded ‘Raaghir’ and closes with ‘The Beatles in India’ (first revealed in ACV film bird bites film on 25.04.21)

A FILM that is banned in Pakistan, one that is so outlandish it could never be seen as based on true events but is – and the theme of hope, all feature as part of this year’s UK Asian Film Festival from May 26-June 6.

There are screenings and events pretty much every day of the 12 days the festival runs and this year all the films have been selected with the idea of A Ray of Hope running through them, recognising the rich legacy left behind by legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, whose 100th year birth anniversary passes this month (May 2, 1921).

Nina Wadia to talk about her career

There are two special sets of short screenings – one screening the festival’s own three-minute film commissions inspired by Satyajit Ray and another set of ten short films mostly shot in South Asia.

Nina Wadia, one of the famous gang of four who helped in the incredible success of the BBC’s ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ features in a special Q&A on June 4 at the Wellington Hotel in London, talking about her latest roles in global cult author Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ series for Netflix, comedy duo Mel and Sue’s ‘Hitmen’ and star actor-producer and writer Stephen Merchant’s new comedy drama, ‘The Offenders’.

Now in its 23rd edition, the country’s longest South Asian inspired film festival returns after being cancelled last year – scheduled as it was to start in late March as the UK government imposed its first national lockdown.

Nobody would believe the story of ‘Toofan Mail‘ is true but it is…

As thousands very sadly continue to die from corona virus every day in India, there is a special charity appeal through the festival this year.

Funds are being raised for the British Asian Trust’s (BAT) Emergency Oxygen Appeal at this year’s festival.

Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, founder and diretor of the festival, which started out as Tongues on Fire, told “We are very mindful of what is happening in India.

“We will be in partnership with BAT during the festival – we can’t pass a bucket around – like we might have done in pre-covid times, but there will be appeals at screenings.

“The charity is raising money for much needed equipment such as oxygen cylinders and in this ‘Ray of Hope’ year, we are highlighting issues that are close to Ray’s filmmaking – a sense of humanity, empathy, kindness, and so it seems only fitting to extend our hand as best we can to those helping India in its hour of need.”

Zindagi Tamasha‘ made in Pakistan but cannot be seen there

As the UK now emerges from the global pandemic and cinemas up and down the country once again open their doors from this Monday (May 17), the festival has both physical screenings in London, Leicester and Coventry, for the first time – as well digital online offerings.

Samir Bhamra, UK Asian Film Festival creative director, believes the festival has one of its strongest line-ups.

“We have many premieres and films that you may not be able to see for a long time,” he told acv.

“Films such as ‘Zindagi Tamasha’, ‘Fire of Teak, Flame of Chinar’ about the Rohingya crisis and ‘Chote Nawab’ and ‘Granada Nights’ are among those that represent our theme.” (See below for more on these films).

Nine films from future writer-directors of the future
inspired by Satyajit Ray films (see below for more)

He also said physical ticket sales are strong. There are festival screenings in Coventry and Leicester, as well as in London, at Genesis in East London and Rich Mix in Shoreditch.

Concerned too about the situation in India, he said watching films helped the creative community there – at a time when films and other forms of entertainment have been an almost essential diversion from the daily pressures of the global pandemic.

“Ticket sales are very encouraging. All filmmakers in South Asia need to be supported and coming out to watch their films does send out a message.”

Tillotama Shome, Adil Hussain and Neeraj Kabi in ‘Raaghir’

He told acv he is in regular touch with many of the filmmakers and that interest in the festival is helping to raise spirits. Both lives and livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic.

“Everything will be in line with the government’s Covid regulations – and it’s encouraging that people want to come out, the online events always do well and we’ve been doing these since last year.

“People make films to be watched and by people seeing them, you are sustaining and helping the creative community.

The Beatles in India‘ closes the festival

“There is a sense of positivity and hope and these filmmakers want their films to do well abroad. It sustains jobs and livelihoods.”

Opening the festival on May 26 is ‘Raaghir’ which has star-studded indie trio line-up of Adil Hussain, Tillotama Shome and Neeraj Kabi. Closing the festival is ‘The Beatles in India‘ on June 6. Both screenings take place at the BFI Southbank.

We’ve highlighted six features here (see below) and will be covering the festival and other films – keep tuned to our any of social media channels – Twitter, Instagram or Facebook...

🎥 Zindagi Tamasha 142 minutes (London and Coventry)
This film sparked huge controversy in Pakistan and ended up being banned. Made by Sarmad Khoosat whose ‘Humsafar’ (2011) is critically acclaimed, his new film charts the plight of ‘Rahat’, a down-at-heel and pious cleric whose one guilty and secret pleasure is Punjabi films – and at a wedding, he lets his guard down and mimics his idols and breaks into a dance. The resulting video posted and shared causes shame and consternation among friends, family and the wider community.

🎥 Toofaan Mail 97 mins (Coventry and London)
In 1974 a woman arrived at Delhi railway station, claiming to be the Queen of Awadh and asked to meet Indian Prime Minister of the time, Indira Gandhi. What transpired after this, sent the media into a tailspin and has become stuff of folklore – nearly 50 years later. Director Akriti Singh’s film is a fictional retelling that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Antonio Akeel stars in this tale of being young and free in Spain

🎥Granada Nights 85 mins (London)
Directorial debut of Brit Abid Khan. The central character played by Antonio Akeel (‘Eaten by lions’) is a man who is lost and finds refuge in Spain following a particularly painful break-up.
Fire of Teak, 121 mins Flame of Chinar (Coventry and London)
A Rohingya orphan resident in Kolkata and young Kashmiri youth find solace in each other’s company and begin to dream of a future beyond the scars of the past.

Chote Nawab‘ is the tale of a young Londoner who finds himself in the midst of toxic traditions

🎥Chote Nawab 109 mins (London & Leicester)
A 13-year-old Londoner sets foot in Lucknow for the first time to attend a family wedding and finds romance and horror as he has to wrestle patriarchy, class and toxic traditions.

Nirvana Inn‘ where reality and sanity engage in an awkward dance

🎥Nirvana Inn 102 mins (London)
Indie favourite Adil Hussain stars in a film which takes you on a journey between reality and a nether world, where nothing is quite what it seems. Vijay Jayapal’s film is a deep meditation on boatman Jogiraj (Hussain) whose life turns upside down when he decides to intentionally capsize his boat with passengers on board and then takes up a post at the Nirvana Inn.

Unusual romance in ‘Fire of Teak, Flame of Chinar

🎥Fire of Teak, Flame of Chinar 121 mins (Coventry and London)
A Rohingya orphan resident in Kolkata and young Kashmiri youth find solace in each other’s company and begin to dream of a future beyond the scars of the past.

Nine digital short film UKAFF commissions screen for the first time to an audience. The three-minute films were selected on how they best represented the theme of a Ray of Hope. The films can be seen at Soho Screening Rooms in London on Wednesday, June 2. Further info/ticket details:

Ten short films selected by UKAFF screen digitally on June 4 from 6pm – see here for more info/tickets:

Full physical programme event guide:

UK Asian Film Festival May 26-June 6 –

Share Button
Written by Asian Culture Vulture