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London Indian Film Festival (June 26-July 3): New directors, new cities and marking 15 years…

London Indian Film Festival (June 26-July 3): New directors, new cities and marking 15 years…

Showcase of South Asian films and talents hits six cities in the UK and platforms new directors and new directions… with fest going on till July 7 in the rest of the country…

AMONG the highlights for this year’s London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) are an Indian slasher ‘John Wick’ style movie, ‘Kill’, backed by a Hollywood studio and Bollywood director icon Karan Johar; a showcase evening for new British Asian directors and a world premiere for a British Pakistani romcom.

‘Paper Flowers’

The festival travels beyond London to Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire and screens more than a dozen films including its Opening Gala film, ‘Paper Flowers’, which features rising Hollywood (‘Deadpool’) star Karan Soni (pictured below right) and also there’s another chance to Fawzia Mirza’s own ode to Bollywood and Sharmila Tagore in ‘The Queen of my Dreams’ after its premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and London Film Festival (LFF) last year.

Late Bloomer

Also, in the line-up and premiering in Europe is the series, ‘Late Bloomer’ by Youtube comedy sensation Jasmeet Singh Raina (better known online as Jus Reign) and loosely based on his own experience of making it big on the web and balancing family, community and cultural concerns. Three episodes comes to LIFF at Regent Street Cinema in London first.

The festival opens on Wednesday (June 26) with Soni’s culture comedy, ‘Paper Flowers’ – as Gujarati American Shalin Shah preps himself to tell his traditional Dad that he intends to marry his Chinese American girlfriend, Fiona. But just as everything seems to be falling into place, Shah finds out he has a life threating illness.

New British Asian Shorts: ‘Skater Uktis

Seven emerging UK based-directors get an opportunity to show off their talent at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (in The Mall, London) with the screening of seven short films.

All showing on Saturday (June 29) is ‘Rita Goes Viral’ by Rajinder Kaur Kochar; ‘Same Same’ by Leah Rustomjee – in Gujarati with English subtitles; ‘Khichdi’ by Sara David; ‘So Long, Farewell’ by Rehan Mudannayake; ‘Lumbu’ by Billy Dosanjh; ‘Skater Uktis’ by Mehek Azmathulla; and ‘Chai-Coffi’ by Sanjoli Malani, – is in Hindi with subtitles. We hope to have a more detailed look at the films and the directors behind these in the coming week. (Also see the ticket link below.) There is a £1000 prizemoney up for grabs.

New British Asian shorts: ‘Rita Goes Viral

The Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition returns – highlighting some of the best work emerging our of South Asia. Five films are in contention and will screen at the festival on Tuesday, July 2 at the ICA with the winner announced on the Closing Night in London.

Enjoying its world premiere at LIFF is the film, ‘Before Nikkah’ which screens on Sunday (June 30) and then again at Cinema Lumiere at the Institut Francais (UK) in South Kensington on Monday (July 1). This is Haidar Zafar’s debut feature as a director, having worked as a cinematographer on several films, including Danny Dyer’s ‘Vendetta’ (2013) and Sarmad Masud’s ‘My Pure Land’ (2016). Some of the cast are expected to be in attendance along with Haider.

‘Before Nikkah’

Closing the festival this year is Karan Johar’s ‘Kill’ which was bought by Hollywood studio Lionsgate from Johar’s Dharma Productions. Directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, the film also has Oscar winner Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment backing. Taken on by the same studio that brought ‘John Wick’ (2014) to the screen with huge success, ‘Kill’ is being seen as another potential bridge between Asian and American action genre films.


It is one of the few times when an Indian Hindi language production has been sold to a western studio. Lionsgate bought ‘Kill’ also for North America. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2023. It won the runners up prize in the Midnight Madness section in public voting. With a high body count, most of the action takes place on board a train with commando and martial arts supremo Amrit (Lakshya) trying to save his girlfriend Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) from an arranged marriage.

Among the other features screening are another TIFF favourite, ‘Stahl’, a Marathi film which sees a young woman follow her passion for education and employment against conservative forces; ‘Wakhri’ by Iran Parveen-Bilal, inspired by the tragic story of Qandeel Baloch, who became a media sensation in Pakistan but came up against those who believed a woman’s place is at home looking after a family.

Parama: A Journey with Aparna Sen

One of India’s most iconic indie directors Aparna Sen is the subject of a documentary in ‘Parama: A Journey with Aparna Sen’ and the culture of Indian bodybuilding comes under the microscope in ‘Tight: The World of Indian Bodybuilding’.

There are also two industry panels – one hosted by LIFF itself during the festival on Friday evening (June 29 6pm) at the British Film Institute (BFI) on the Southbank and one outside where LIFF founder and current CEO and programme director Cary Rajinder Sawhney will be participating – see details and ticket information at the bottom of this.

The festival also has a LGBTQIA+ strand with its annual ‘Too Desi Too Queer’ showcasing some of the best to have emerged in this genre – check the programme for further details.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney founder, CEO and director LIFF

There is also a VR (Virtual) Reality and XR (Extended Reality) genre films being highlighted.

Sawhney hailed the festival’s 15 years and said this year the festival has extended to two new cities – Bradford and Liverpool.

“(We) continue our mission to showcase and celebrate emerging and established filmmakers, diversifying our offer to UK audiences.”

Among this year’s leading sponsors are the BFI Film Audience Network and the Bagri Foundation.

More on New British Asian shorts –


Industry meets

LIFF – Exploring International Co-Production Collaborations Debate and Networking (Free but you must register –
Cary Rajinder Sawhney moderates Friday, June 28, 6pm BFI Southbank (Blue Room)
David Hamilton (longtime Deepa Mehta producer)
Anushka Shah (Civic Studios)
Iram Parveen Bilal (writer-director)
Pooja Chauhan (producer)

EPG Film Conclave (Part of EPG India Week June 29-July6)
1 day conference Saturday, July 6, Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
Heeramandi star Taha Shah Badussha talks about his career to date; UK based director and Bollywood line producer Sudipto Sarkar (‘Operation Mayfair’ and ‘Victor’) is part of a panel discussing Screen Representation Across Borders: The UK actor pathway to Hindi cinema and Indian actors working in the West; and Sawhney appears in a panel on Technological advancements and the future of film: OTT, VFX, VR an AI in collaboration with Mugafi (an AI scriptwriting tool).
For full details and to purchase tickets:

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(Our final Cannes Film Festival videos and reviews – non-Asian and now just a month on from the end of the festival on May 25 and with all yet to released – should be out this week… subscribe to Youtube and follow acv on socials to see when – see tabs on home page for social media of your choice…)

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture