A busy day for the closing of the longest running South Asian film festival…
By Mamie Colfox
BHUTANESE drama ‘Gangnam Girls’ was the hot topic of conversation at UK Asian Film Festival’s closing night on Sunday (May 15). The film follows four childhood friends that, despite their differences, reunite after 10 years, and, which includes themes of friendship and women’s roles.
Writer and director Charmi Nemchand and producer Nyema Zam spoke to www.asianculturevulture.com on the red carpet about how they made the film.
Nemchand explained: “From a writer-director point of view, it’s not like we had categories or compartments where eventually we all came together to make this. We came together as a team.”
When it came to a writer’s perspective, she focussed on the importance of women within the film.
“I would say that when a woman creates roles for women, there are so many women involved in it that there’s a certain sensibility to it, which is very different as compared to what we call the male gaze. That was the major push for bringing that femininity-not being feminist.”
Producer Zam spoke about the lack of women in the industry, “as a producer it was very clear that we don’t have enough female stories, so we decided to make a film about women, especially about friendship, and also to encourage females to think about being part of the film industry. I was very excited to collaborate with Charmi to do this project.”
Actor Shaheen Khan, who stars in legendary film ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, and more recently, police procedural series ‘DI Ray’ alongside Parminder Nagra, spoke to acv about the festival this year “I did see ‘Kekee Manzil’, which I loved. The standard of the films are just so brilliant.”
On the making of D.I. Ray, Khan said “I had so much fun. There were lots of things that appealed to me about it, and then of course I found out Parminder Nagra was playing DI Ray, and we had such a good time.”
Speaking about the lack of diversity in the industry, Khan said “Things are changing, pretty slowly I would say. It’s been twenty years, and has there been another film like that, and with that impact?”
She added: “Now I’m in my 60s, I do want to be playing parts that really resonate with me and my community, there’s so much going on at the moment. So I’m hoping that in my 60s there will be that great part that I can finish my career off.”
Behroze Gandhy and Dilesh Korya’s ‘Kekee Manzil: House of Art’ (see review below) documents the rise of art in India through the Gandhy family, who owned Kekee Manzil House, which helped launched the careers of artist such as MF Husain, Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza, FN Souza, Vasudeo Gaitonde and Krishen Khanna.
The film was supported by acv, who interviewed Gandhy, Korya and musician Talvin Singh before the screening (see link below). Taking place at Regents Street Cinema on Sunday (May 8) to a sold-out audience, the documentary won both Best Music and Best Documentary at the awards.
There was a post-screening Q & A with Nemchand and Zam, in which Nemchand explained the reason behind the name of the film: “In Bhutan, groups of boys and girls name themselves after songs. Gangnam style was really famous.”
Zam is the CEO of Bhutan’s first OTT streaming platform, Samuh, and spoke about why she set it up “we come from a country of just 5 theatres. Then the pandemic happened and theatres were gone, and I thought streaming would work.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by actors Yannick Ghanty and Nisha Aaliya, with ‘Javed Iqbal: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’ winning Best Actor (Yasir Hussain) and Best Director (Abu Aleeha), and Hina Khan winning the Trailblazer award.
Lilette Dubey and Shaheen Khan were both given awards for their contributions to theatre, cinema and the arts, with Khan finishing her speech speaking of how the Dare to Dream theme of the festival was reminiscent of her childhood dream “I thought I was daydreaming but actually I was daring to dream”.
Best Film Curator’s Choice: Gandhi & Co
Best Short Film: ‘February 1st’
Best Actor: Yasir Hussain
Celebrating Dare to Dream Theme: Adieu Godard
Best Original Screenplay: Adh Chanani Raat
Best Documentary: ‘Kekee Manzil: House of Art’
Best Music Score: Talvin Singh
Best Director: Abu Aleeha
Best Debut Feature Film: ‘Gangnam Girls’
Best Film: ‘Dostojee, Two Friends’
Trail Blazer: Hina Khan
Rising Star Award: Nisha Aaliya
Best Animated Film: ‘Priya And The Twirling Wind’
Championing Change: ‘Emergence – Out of Shadows’
Silver Flame Award – Contribution to Film & Television: Shaheen Khan
Golden Flame Award – Contribution to Film and Theatre: Lillete Dubey
‘Kekee Manzil: House of Art ’ review here: http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/kekee-manzil-house-of-art-world-premiere-of-documentary-that-charts-birth-of-modern-indian-art-comes-to-uk-asian-film-festival/
UK Asian Film Festival: https://www.tonguesonfire.com/