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Bird Bites: UK Asian Film Festival; Gandhi series; Cannes; Gurinder Chadha (film) and JLF at British Library (books) and more…

Bird Bites: UK Asian Film Festival; Gandhi series; Cannes; Gurinder Chadha (film) and JLF at British Library (books) and more…

South Asian films extravaganza begins today…

THERE are still tickets for the Opening Gala Film of this year’s UK Asian Film Festival which begins this evening.
Hosted at the BFI Imax in London, ‘Minimum’ (pictured) is a cross cultural comedy that is written and stars Rumana Molla, a US-born Belgian for whom this screening will be its world premiere. Set in Belguim, It all begins with an Indian bride landing up in Belgium and discovering some unexpected things about her new family.
The festival screens a wide range of films from South Asia or with a South Asian angle between May 2-May 12.
We picked out some highlights here –

Tonight Tickets (BFI Imax London Southbank) 8.45pm start

English stars to feature in new Gandhi series

PLAYING one of Indian leader MK Gandhi’s British friends in a new series being made by Indian director Hansal Mehta (‘The Buckingham Murders’) is Harry Potter star, Tom Felton.
He will play Josiah Oldfield, a friend of Gandhi’s when he studied in London. Oldfield was one of the co-founders of the Vegetarian Society of London – to which Gandhi belonged. Filming is about to begin in London on the series.
Produced by Applause Entertainment, which made the announcement today (May 2) the series features Indian actor Pratik Gandhi as the iconic figure. Other Brits joining the project are Libby Mai, Molly Wright, James Murray, Lindon Alexander, Jonno Davies and Simon Lennon (pictured). The film is based on historian Ramachandra Guha’s books on Gandhi, covering his early life here in London and South Africa. The series is expected to be sold to an Indian streaming service.

Cannes Film Festival 2024 (77th) – Indian film ‘The Shameless’ drops trailer; Indian stars at….

LESS than two weeks away now is the opening of the Cannes Film Festival – we will be carrying a preview and unveiling new music and a promotional video of coverage next week – look out for that.
One of the Indian films selected to screen at this year’s Un Certain Regard section, ‘The Shameless’ unveiled its trailer this week.
Director Konstantin Bojanov’s film is a gritty love story involving two women – one of whom is a sex worker and looking for a way out. It has a number of international partners from Switzerland France, Bulgaria, Taiwan and India who helped to make it – and was shot in Nepal.
Indian cinematographer Santosh Sivan (pictured) will receive the prestigious Pierre Angénieux Tribute prize. Sponsored by Angénieux, a world-renowned French optical manufacturer, the prize recognises exceptional work in the field of cinematography. Sivan is one of India’s most celebrated cinematographers and has a long history of working with legendary Tamil director Mani Ratnam – and he has also made films with Gurinder Chadha and worked with Brit Mitu Misra on Lies We Tell’ (2017) too. He has moved more into directing as well. More on this from Cannes itself – the award is being presented on Friday, May 24 and there is a masterclass the day before.
Sivan won’t be the only high profile Indian figure in Cannes – news has reached us of star director Karan Johar, and Chhello Show director Pan Nalin being present on the first day of the India pavilion being open on May 15. Hollywood producer and one time Indian tennis player Ashok Amitraj will also be at the pavilion. This week the Festival de Cannes – to give its official title – unveiled its full Competition Jury – joining President Greta Gerwig (‘Barbie’) is Ebru Ceylan, Turkish screenwriter and photographer, actors Lily Gladstone, and Eva Green; Nadine Labaki, Lebanese director and screenwriter; Spanish director and screenwriter Juan Antonio Bayona and Italian actor Pierfrancisco Favino; Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu and French actor and producer Omar Sy.
The festival runs from May 14-25 and for the first time will be covering the whole festival – subscribe to Youtube and don’t miss our interviews and reports and follow us on socials to keep up to date with what we are doing. More next week on all that.

The Shameless trailer

Gurinder Chadha new Christmas film shooting now in London with ‘Big Bang Theory’ star Kunnal Nayyar

Gurinder Chadha Sundance 2019 ©BTM

A STAR-STUDDED cast is working on Gurinder Chadha’s latest film which has started shooting in London.
Called ‘Christmas Karma’ it’s a Bollywood twist on the famous Charles Dickens’ tale, ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Starring Kunal Nayyar of ‘Big Bang Theory’ fame as the scrooge character, it features Eva Longoria, Hugh Bonneville, Leo Suter, Boy George, Billy Porter, Charithra Chandran, Pixie Lott, Nitin Ganatra and Danny Dyer.
Music for the film is being made by Gary Barlow, Shaznay Lewis and Nitin Sawhney.
The film will be distributed in the UK by a new outfit, formed in November 2023, called True Brit Entertainment, set up by movie producer, Zygi Kamsa. Indian firm Civic Studios led by Anushka Shah is co-financing. Chadha said the music will be a strong element: “The soundtrack will be banging, influenced by Gospel, Bhangra, Carols and classic pop songs. You will not be able to sit still.”
The film is slated to release in December 2025.

New film company ready for flight

ANNOUNCED last month, creatives Neil Biswas and Manjinder Virk (pictured by Charlie Gray) have joined together to launch Riverbird Films, a multi platform production company that is looking for new stories. Virk is known as an actor for her roles in ‘Britz’ and ‘The Arbor’, while Biswas was the showrunner for comic book legend, ‘Stan Lee’s Lucky Man’ on Sky. He also wrote and directed the Indian-set feature film, ‘Darkness Visible’ .

Author excitement as “world’s greatest literary show” comes to London (again)

A LITTLE part of Jaipur visits the British Library in King’s Cross this summer with the return of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
This is now the 11th edition of the festival which also visits other cities outside India now. There are editions of JLF in the US and Australia, to name just two.
Authors in London will include Maggie O’Farrell, Paul Lynch, scientist Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, diplomat and author Vikas Swarup (pictured) whose novel ‘Q&A’ became the hit film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’; Mary Beard; Sathnam Sanghera, Ruby Lal and famed foreign correspondent and Malala biographer, Christina Lamb.
Acv covered the Jaipur Literature Festival in the Pink City, as it is known, annually between 2014-2018 and with video author interviews and reports, 2015-2017.
The festival brings together the largest number of authors from around the world every year and is often referred to as “the world’s greatest literary show.”

JLF London at the British Library, June 7-9.
More info and tickets:

Artist has new book and impressive list of contributors

SPOKEN WORD artist and poet Hussain Manawar (pictured) has just released an anthology aimed at helping anyone at a low ebb in their lives – ‘I wanted to quit too’.
It’s a mixture of poetry, stories, anecdotes and conversations with famous folks as well – among them, ‘Friends’ actor Courtney Cox, Youtube star KSI, Harry Potter star Hero Fiennes Tiffin and England rugby union icon Maro Itoje.
His debut collection of poems, ‘Life is Sad and Beautiful’ (2022) is a Sunday Times Bestseller and he has performed at Glastonbury music festival, such is his widespread appeal and versatility. His first book was spurred by the death of his mother and coming to terms with it in a way that was positive and life-affirming. In 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May presented him with a Point of Light award for his efforts towards tackling mental health and wellbeing. Born and raised in the East End, he first emerged as a 15 year old rapper.

India’s diversity to be showcased by new publishing venture

AIMING to bring a greater awareness about what’s going on in India is a new publishing book imprint developed by the progressive British charity, Bridge India and LID Publishing.
It’s looking to produce its first book in the Spring of next year and is putting the call out for new authors and projects.
Pratik Dattani, the founder of Bridge India and board member, said: “India is so diverse that everything about the country, and its exact opposite, can be true at the same time. We’re delighted to be partnering with LID Publishing to help bring this nuance and complexity to a global audience.”
Martin Liu, chief operating officer and publisher of LID, added: “I believe we have an excellent foundation to develop books and authors that can play a significant role in helping the world to understand India better.”
Both organisations are now developing an editorial strategy with British author and media expert, Sangeeta Waldron (pictured).
Bridge India –

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture