Filmmaker/auteur Akriti SIngh tells acv why she was inpsired to make the film about a true story…
A REAL life episode that is much better known in India, than it is generally outside of that country, made its way onto the big screen in the form of a world premiere for a film called, ‘Toofaan Mail’ at the UK Asian Film Festival last night (May 27).
It screened for the first time to an audience at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and the UK’s City of Culture 2021.
Samir Bhamra, artistic director of the UKAFF introduced the film.
Written, directed and starring Akriti Singh, the film tells the incredible true story of the purported ‘Queen of Awadh’ turning up at Delhi Railway Station in 1974 and demanding to see the then prime minister Indira Gandhi and requesting her ancestral land be returned to her.
The story has a historical basis in that Awadh or Oudh was a princely Indian state in the 18th century with Lucknow as its capital – before the British in the form of the East India Company arrived and slowly gained control of the region.
Th Queen of Awadh arrives from Kolkata in Delhi and says she must speak to Indira – the film chronicles what happened loosely after her arrival – holed out at Delhi Railway station and in the middle of an industrial dispute between rail workers and the Indian government, she persists in her quest and forms an unlikely friendship and unintended alliance with the station chief – whose family has also suffered after having to leave their palatial house in Lahore following Partition and the creation of Pakistan.
Singh talked to acv about what inspired her to make the film and about its challenges. Natalie Barrass, acv video editor in Mumbai, joined the discussion.
It screens today in London at Rich Mix in East London (see listing).
‘Toofaan Mail’, Rich Mix 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
UK Asian Film Festival (May 26-June 6) full programme – http://www.ukaff.com
Akriti Singh has a message at the end for those watching at UKAFF…