PAKISTANI tanks moved into London, not literally. ‘Yalghaar’ director Hassan Rana came to promote his latest film after the success of his 2013 ‘Waar’. http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/yalghaar-hassan-rana-sana-bucha-help-lead-pakistani-film-charge/
Later that month, the summer Bollywood blockbuster publicity train was in full steam for ‘Jagga Jasoos’ (‘Detective Jagga’) and while we were chuffed to be getting both Katrina Kaif (in what would be her acv debut) and Ranbir Kapoor together, the publicity trail (in India itself) for this one-time couple who had five years together took its toll… by the time they got round to UK engagements. Hence only Ranbir – still a thrill: smart, friendly and articulate, he talked a good game to us – audiences and critics were perhaps a little disappointed, but this film was different enough to suggest it may have a longer shelf life than many and in time, it might still be seen as something innovative and original for its time. The interview with Ranbir is below
There was a starry night at BAFTA celebrating one of India’s great classics ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ Farhan Akhtar was joined by celebrated poet, lyricist and father Javed, while his wife Shabana Azmi attracted yet more crowds. The film has been turned into a stage production in India and there is some talk of it hitting the road. Irrfan Khan was there too; see the interviews and Khan talking about the film in this http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/mughal-e-azam-starry-bafta-night-akhtars-irrfan-khan-special-guests/
A Bollywood superstar – Akshay Kumar returned to London for the first time in years – to promote a film called ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ (‘Toilet: A Love Story’). Addressing the need for toilets to be built in India (few houses outside cities have them and most have to make do with mother nature), Kumar and rising star Bhumi Pednekar got on their soapbox and made a half decent film. Both were in splendid form when we met them.
At the end of the month, Hollywood wannabe (and now established star) Kumail Nanjiani made it to London with his wife and co-writer Emily V Gordon to discuss the film, ‘The Big Sick’. They made it under the stable of US comedy powerhouse director Judd Apatow. Brit actor Adeel Akhtar who plays Kumail’s rather culturally stiff brother was in fine form talking about his acting career and this film as a positive and relatable representation of an American Muslim family. However, some Asian women were less impressed by the representation of brown women in this film.
Secret Superstar – Aamir Khan was back after the humungous hit that was ‘Dangal’. http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/secret-superstar-bollywood-big-hitter-aamir-khan-going-score-large-feminist-film/
As we entered into the middle of the month, Independence Day loomed (August 14 in Pakistan; August 15 in India) and, there were celebrations and commemorations galore; and some poignant reflections.
Among the anniversary retrospectives was a three-day festival involving artists and filmmakers under the general ruse of intertwined narratives.
Academic and film expert Varsha Panjwani, from the University of Boston London, organised an imaginative festival provoking thought, discussion and dialogue with Pakistanis from Pakistan. A group of fellow academics from the Critical Thinking Forum from the International Islamic University in Lahore participated.
On one of the days, everyone watched Ken McMullen’s ‘Partition’ film – made for Channel 4 in 1987 (marking 40 years of Independence). It was a story based on the famous short ‘Toba Tek Singh’ by celebrated author Saadat Hasan Manto. Not just a nostalgia trip with McMullan and some of the actors from the production present, but an examination of difference and a debate about diversity, old and new. Some would say we are going backwards! http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/india-pakistan-uk-intertwined-narratives-film-feminism-make-first-feature/
Watch out next year for Indian actor-director Nandita Das’ biopic on Manto with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role…
As part of the BFI’s India on Film Season and the UK-India Year of Culture, it released films from its extensive archive, including early works of both Gurinder Chadha (‘Viceroy’s House’) and Asif Kapadia (‘Amy’) and tweeted about its efforts to identify film dating back to 1906…
An Indian film was released by the BFI – ‘Hotel Salvation’ – a first feature by Shubhasish Bhutiani, charted an unusual father-son relationship, with the older man aiming to achieve salvation by dying in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi. http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/hotel-salvation-mukti-bhawan-laughing-accepting-death-indian-way/
Dame Judi Dench reprised her most in demand role – that of Queen Victoria and went up against Bollywood’s Ali Faisal in the fictional remake of the relationship between the monarch and the munshi in ‘Victoria and Abdul’. An adaptation of the book by popular historian and journalist Shrabani Basu, the Stephen Frears directed film was a gentle and amusing send up of Victorian mores, especially to do with race and a Queen more radical than anyone else around her. Mmm. We were on the red carpet for the London premiere http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/victoria-abdul-red-carpet-leicester-square-ali-fazal-eddie-izzard-others/
And later got to discuss the film with Faisal in more detail…
A film we might get to see in 2018 in the UK is Priyanka Chopra’s ‘Pahuna’ – no, PC (as she is commonly known) is not in it. She produced it along with her mother, who had first talked about it in Cannes
We got to hear more from director-writer Paakhi Tyrewala, once a Bollywood actress herself. http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/pahuna-writer-director-paakhi-tyrewala-talks-about-world-premiere-at-tiff-and-support-of-bollywood-star-priyanka-chopra/
British director Sarmad Masud defied his wife’s expectations and finally made a feature (after a few shorts) and decided to, just do it. His ‘My Pure Land’, shot entirely in Pakistan, was much applauded, hailing a new star director – and the film earned Masud a foreign language Oscar nomination, before falling at the final six shortlist, announced earlier this month. A sensational performance from lead Suhaee Abro, in her first feature, almost stole Masud’s thunder, but it certainly helped put the film on the global map.
This should really be in the music section but would fans of ‘Salu’ – Salman Khan – accept that? No, of course not, the eponymous bulked-up muscle supremo, super-hero was in the UK after an absence of 11 years and here to promote a music tour, Dabangg – styled from the movie of the same name. He had an entourage of stars in thrall and they were not the only ones…
Gurinder Chadha was back at the BFI after being named the most prolific British woman director of her generation – with seven films to her credit. She told acv she didn’t think she could get her breakthrough film, ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ made today.
There’s only one story in town at this time of the month – it’s the London Film Festival (October 4-15). Several Indian films make their way – we ran a competition to see polymath Nitin Sawhney talk about his first film score – ‘Breathe’ which opened the festival and is directed by his friend and well-known motion-capture acting star Andy Serkis in his directorial debut. There were UK premieres for India indie king, Anurag Kashyap with ‘The Brawler’, Iranian auteur Majid Majidi’s ‘Beyond the Clouds’ set in Mumbai, and Anup Singh’s ‘The Song of Scorpions’, among others. Anushka Shankar’s live music score to accompany the silent 1928 film, ‘Shiraz: A Romance of India’ was another one of the star attractions.
Ahead of tonight's #WorldPremiere of @BTCTheFilm we chatted to Iranian Director #MajidMajidi via his interpreter – watch it tonight at #LFF pic.twitter.com/NfEbSuTT7U
— asianculturevulture (@asianculturevul) October 13, 2017
Among the interviews, was one with debutant Arshad Khan who made a highly personal film about his coming out and growing up in Canada, the son of an ex-Pakistani Army officer.
You will find other London Film Festival (LFF) stories by either using the #LFF hashtag or doing a search under the festivals tab (which drops down at the film tab at the top of any page and the home page).
Later in the month, www.asiancultureuvulture.com editor Sailesh Ram found himself in Mumbai (on other business) but was able to drop in on the Mumbai Film Festival or Jio Mami with Star to give its full official title. He saw some films and heard an interesting discussion about the state of the Indian independent film industry, as well as meeting London Asian Film Festival founder and director Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry and curator Samir Bhamra at the festival.
Review and round-up
Back on home ground, one of Pakistan’s biggest stars talked to us about why she was doing a film about the subject of rape.
Mahira Khan might be part Bollywood glamour puss, having appeared alongside Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Raees’ and now also a L’Oreal Paris front woman – the first from Pakistan, but there’s a feistiness about her that is endearing, though not everyone was convinced by the film, ‘Verna’. Incidentally, ‘Raees’ topped the Bollywood talk charts in 2017 as measured by Twitter hashtags, beating off the more recent Salman Khan release, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’.
Towards the end of the month, the filmmaking community reconvened in Goa for the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). At one point, we looked set to cover it, but it didn’t quite happen. Maybe 2018, watch this space!
Another Khan causes a stir in Mumbai but wait… this is not Aamir, Shah Rukh or even Salman, this is London’s on no.1 Khan, Sadiq Khan. The Mayor of London was the star attraction at a party thrown by one of the world’s richest men, Mukesh Ambani. Khan also helped to announce work on a new epic ITV mini-series, ‘The Far Pavilions’. Khan was on a trade trip to both India and Pakistan.
A film that had first premiered in the UK came back for a cinema release and we got a chance to meet and talk with Salim Shaheen, the star of Afghanistan cinema. The documentary film about him, ‘The Prince of Nothingwood’ (as opposed to Hollywood-Bollywood-Lollywood (Pakistan) and Nollywood (Nigeria) was made by French journalist Sonia Kronlund. She spoke to us aearlier this month: http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/the-prince-of-nothingwood-nothingwood-the-magic-of-salim-shaheen-dharmendra-as-narrated-by-sonia-kronlund/
While Bird No1 (Sailesh Ram) had caught him at the Mumbai Film Festival in October, he wasn’t able speak to him properly, not being familiar with Hindustani – no such constraint on acv’s Suman Bhuchar. We can only hope he did get his Christmas wish
Into the final week before Christmas, and there was not one, but two glossy films from Pakistan. ‘Rangreza’ featured rising stars Urwa Hocane, Bilal Ashraf and Gohar Rasheed. The trio explained the musical nature of the film and its social ambitions (without giving the plot away). Fair dos. Pakistani cinema is on an upward curve.
Pakistani megastar Shaan Shahid came to London with his version of a Bollywood classic, ‘Arth’ (1982). Taking Mahesh Bhatt’s very personal film (exploring his own relationship as a director with pin-up Parveen Babi) Shaan (as he is commonly known) spoke to us about what inspired him…
And lo and behold, special acv presenter Attika Choudhary could finally talk about her own cameo alongside Shaan in ‘Arth 2- The Destination’.
Thanks to Suman Bhuchar; Attika Choudhary; Momtaz Begum-Hossain and Tasha Mathur for film coverage as part of the acv team.
Finally, and not forgetting the blockbuster Bollywood release this Christmas, we ran a competition giving away a scarf and t-shirt emablazone ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, the Salman Khan starrer.
We will be announcing the winners shortly…
Thanks to all the people we interviewed this year for the film section and all the PRs and film companies which helped us serve you dear reader…good luck for 2018!
And make sure you’re connected to the bird… and/or here too
THANKS FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT AND INTEREST…SEE YOU IN 2018!