We look back at the year and pick out some of our memorable stories…
IN A VERY general way – being back at the Cannes Film Festival was special.
After an absence of two years, it returned to its customary format without any covid protocols – it also marked 75 years in 2022.
One film that sticks out above them all was ‘Joyland’. This first feature by Saim Sadiq and made in Pakistan and with a Pakistani cast, including the trans actor Alina Khan, thoroughly deserved its place in the Mediterranean sun. We covered its first unveiling in Cannes and also interviewed Sadiq, Khan and another star of the production, Sarwat Gilani (Its introduction in Cannes); Saim Sadiq interview) ; Alina Khan interview – (Urdu/English translation by Sadiq) and Sarwat Gilani.)
It was also thrilling to catch up with rising international star, Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Cannes. He was part of the official India delegation that had come to mark the country being made the very first and Country of Honour (in the market section of the festival) and we caught up with him as he was presented with an Industry Excellence Award by a short film festival run in Cannes during the fest. He actually holds the record for the actor with the highest number of films appearing in Cannes over the shortest period of time. He first came in 2012 with two films, ‘The Lunchbox’ and ‘Miss Lovely’ (before acv existed). We have interviewed him twice before in Cannes, making this the third. The first of our interviews was in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Raman Raghav 2.0’ (2016) and then Nandita Das’ ‘Manto’ (2018) – and he talked about his first international project as a lead in Mexican director Robert Girault’s Christmas New York set production, ‘Laxman Lopez’ which will start shooting in New York in early 2023.
Earlier in the year – there was our interview with Bollywood star Alia Bhatt at the Berlinale where the world premiere for ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi‘ took place. Directed by Indian auteur Sanjay Leela Bhansali who came to BAFTA in London for a masterclass later, Bhatt won many plaudits for her performance.
London Film Festival was also special – we covered our first home red carpet for the Opening Film and world premiere of ‘Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical’ and got to catch up with one of the leads, comedian extraordinaire Sindhu Vee. Asking her the questions was Trishala Lakhani making her own debut on acv. We first interviewed Vee at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018, where she presented her first full length stand-up show, ‘Sandhog’.
Strictly speaking this is not an artwork but a film about a group of artists who had a huge international impact. The Behroze Gandhy directed film, ‘Kekee Manzil:House of Art’ tells the story of a grand house in Mumbai which became the epicentre of modern Indian art. Practically all of India’s best known modern artists passed through its doors in Bandra at some point. The documentary is a fascinating and very watchable history of Bombay/Mumbai as well. Quite unexpectedly, we were able to film our own little promo on location in Bandra), ahead of its world premiere screening at the UK Asian Film Festival (May 4-15) and then interviewed the filmmakers at our reception for guests and cast and crew attending, just a week later.
Anish Kapoor displayed some of his most influential works in his own palace – yes, you read that right. After purchasing the Palazzo Manfrin in Venice, he presented work, some of it for the first time and the exhibition opened alongside the biannual Venice Biennale.
It was great to be covering the Jaipur Literature Festival at the British Library again. We were there for the whole three days and covered a range of authors and topics.
Finally, we got a chance to see ‘Samsara’, the new work by dancer-choreographer Aakash Odedra and Chinese Hu Shenyuan. The story behind it is fascinating and not just because the pandemic presented further unforeseen challenges.
Another very interesting collaboration was sitar player and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun work with Opera North to produce a fully fledged Indian classical adaptation of Monteverdi’s opera, ‘Orpheus’. Degun’s residency at Opera North ends in the autumn of next year and it will be interesting to see what the talented composer does next.
When it comes to TV or streaming, Parminder Nagra made a very welcome return to prime-time as a detective inspector in ITV’s ‘DI Ray’- written by actor Maya Sondhi, and set in Birmingham, it was original and entertaining. More please Sondhi and Nagra.
Shubham Saraf’s stock rose again (see below) this time alongside ‘Sons of Anarchy’ star Charlie Hunnam as Lin in the eagerly anticipated TV serial version of the international blockbuster novel, ‘Shantaram’ by Australian fugitive, Gregory David Roberts, who lived and worked in India for some years. There is some disquiet that this series won’t be continued as first expected. The announcement came with the last episode of the 10-part dropping on December 16.
The South Asian theatre output has been very visible in 2022. Subject matters ranged from our shared and contested colonial histories with a big picture narrative of ‘The Father and The Assassin’ by writer Anupama Chandrasekhar which opened at the National Theatre and starred Saraf in the pivotal role of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi (Paul Bazely).
Other productions that were excellent included, ‘Silence’. Tara Arts’ witness theatre drawn from real life testimonies of survivors of the Partition of India and from a book written by Kavita Puri – and ‘Noor’ , the evocative biographical story of the Indian SOE (Special Operations Executive) agent who gave her life for liberty in the Second World War for the Allies.
More contemporary plays were also outstanding on different levels – ‘Favour‘ by Ambreen Razia about three generations of women in one family negotiating their relationships with each other and the world; Sudha Bhuchar’s personal memoir and intergenerational story with ‘Evening Conversations’ to Yasmin Wilde’s ‘Glitterball‘ and Waleed Akhtar’s ‘The P Word‘ also explored personal histories and boundaries with great dexterity and skill. (See here for all.).
As always there is a lot more we would like to have included here but this is a brief snapshot looking back at the works that made their mark in 2022 among the acv team.
And also a very big thank you to the acv team who made 2022 another great year for the bird! With special thanks to Suman Bhuchar (Associate Editor) Mamie Colfox, Natalie Barrass, Harry Clegg, Adrianne Mckenzie, Devika Banerjee, Trishala Lakhani, Brigitte Leloire Kerackian and Tatiana Rosenstein – and all those who helped and supported us in our work – thank you and Happy New Year!. (Sailesh Ram, founder and editor of acv).