Tag Archives: London Indian Film Festival

London Indian Film Festival 2015 kicks off with Sundance winner Umrika

Prashant Nair’s Umrika, winner of the Audience Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, starring Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), will be the opening night gala of The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (July 16-23).

The festival is now in its 6th edition and firmly established as Europe’s largest showcase for South Asian cinema. Nair’s debut film Delhi in a Day was a great success at the festival’s 2012 edition.

Prashant Nair, writer/director of Umrika, said, “I’m so excited to hear that Umrika will open the London Indian Film Festival this year. We’ve heard such great things about the audiences at LIFF and can’t wait to share our film with them. We’re hoping the film’s nostalgic portrayal of 1980s India, its themes and the many cross-cultural references will resonate with LIFF’s audiences.”

The festival is pleased to announce that the Bagri Foundation, a charity whose aims include the advancement of literacy, education and the arts, with an emphasis on those of India, and the appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures, is on board as the Title Sponsor.

Alka Bagri of the Bagri Foundation said, “Cinema has a vital role to play in exploring lives, sharing emotions, investigating social issues, and expanding horizons. Given the explanatory power of this medium, we are absolutely delighted to be supporting the London Indian Film Festival as title sponsors. The Bagri Foundation is committed to promoting rich cultural endeavours, fostering dialogues and providing platforms for creativity to blossom. In line with this, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival offers a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to embark on an exciting journey and to immerse themselves in South Asian culture.”

This year, the dynamic festival is also expanding to UK’s second largest city Birmingham with a selection of highlight screenings at Midlands Arts Centre and Cineworld Broad Street.

The festival will close with hard-hitting cricket documentary Death of a Gentleman, featuring Ravi Shastri, Kevin Pietersen, Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan and Giles Clarke.

Director Sam Collins said, “Death of a Gentleman has been four years in the making, and we are hugely excited to be chosen as the closing film at the 2015 LIFF. This is a very human story about passion, money and power, and we hope to make a persuasive case to cricket fans and non cricket fans alike that the greatest game in the world needs to change its ways.”

Other programme highlights include: a rare Screen Talk by one of India’s most acclaimed mainstream filmmakers Tamilian giant Mani Ratnam, Berlinale winner Dhanak, Venice winner Court, Toronto doc. Monsoon and also Bengali art-house hit Labour of Love. UK premieres continue with Slumdog-like The Crows Egg and 31st October starring Soha Ali Khan. Nepalese Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala attends to support a charity event for the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. Actress Konkona Sen Sharma will present her films Saari Raat and Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File, with the latter’s director Ananth Mahadevan also in attendance.

The festival includes the coveted Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition & Award, supported by the Bagri Foundation.

LIFF’s Executive & Programming Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney said, “It is wonderful that the festival is expanding so rapidly in stature and reach, proving there is an un-tapped market for Indian independent cinema with UK audiences.”

LIFF 2015

‘Sold’ wins London Indian Film Festival

Sold  LIFFOscar-winning director Jeffrey D Brown’s hard-hitting child trafficking drama Sold, executive produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, which opened the 5th edition of the London Indian Film Festival (July 10-17), has won the festival’s Pure Heaven audience award.

Jeffrey D Brown said, “It’s really amazing. I hadn’t really anticipated this at all. I’m really grateful, humbled and speechless. I really hope this galvanises more people to see the film so that we can help the kids who’ve been through this ordeal and we can end this travesty around the globe.”

Brown and producer Jane Charles are in advanced discussions with distributors with a view to securing a global release for Sold in early 2015.

The runner-up for the audience award was Samruddhi Porey’s Hemalkasa, the festival’s closing night film starring Indian cinema icon Nana Patekar. The film is a biopic about a doctor couple that dedicated their lives towards improving the lot of tribal people in Western India with little or no help from the government.

The festival’s popular Satyajit Ray Foundation Short Film Competition was won by Shubhashish Bhutiani’s Kush. The award carries a cash prize of £1000. Kush previously won short film kudos at Venice and was long-listed for the live action short film Oscar. Ananya Kasaravalli’s Devil in the Black Stone (Kappu Kallina Saitana) won a Special Mention.

Shubhashish Bhutiani said, “Thank you so much to the London Indian Film Festival Jury and the Satyajit Ray Foundation for this amazing honour. His dealing with children and the way he told truthful and complex stories in such a simple way are some of the things I’ve learnt from Satyajit Ray. I heard the story for this film in a classroom many years ago, and felt compelled to share it after it resonated with me for all that time. With an incredibly supportive cast and crew, we made the film with the little resources we have, and for it today, to be recognized by our own community in such a culturally diverse part of the world, means a lot to me.”

The London Indian Film Festival has grown exponentially in five years and is now the largest South Asian film festival in Europe. Festival Director Cary Sawhney says, “I think it’s been an amazing festival. We’ve grown by at least 30% this year and we’re getting global films! We’ve got Hollywood films in the festivals, Indian films, British films, Bangladeshi films, Pakistani films and it’s all happening in the heart of London, the only city where this kind of engaging range of cinema is embraced. It’s great!”

Highlights of the festival included the UK premiere of The Walt Disney Company’s Indian-themed Million Dollar Arm, followed by a Q&A by star Madhur Mittal and producer Mark Ciardi, Gillian Anderson who delivered a moving Q&A on opening night along with Jeffrey D Brown and Jane Charles and sold out screen talks and masterclasses at the British Film Institute delivered by Santosh Sivan ASC (The Terrorist) and Farhan Akhtar (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag).

FarhanAkhtar said, “The London Indian Film Festival is run by a group of passionate people and I think it is a great platform to share my experiences with aspiring filmmakers.”

LIFF 2014

London Indian Film Festival celebrates Farhan Akhtar, Santosh Sivan

Farhan Akhtar - Daboo Ratnani 2The London Indian Film Festival (LIFF, July 10-17) will host a Screen Talk with the multifaceted Farhan Akhtar and a Masterclass with the award-winning Santosh Sivan at the British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank.

Akhtar has come to the world’s attention over the last decade, as multiple award-winning director, producer, and actor, straddling an impressive range of roles, from long distance runners to rockstars. He also commands audiences of thousands, at his live music shows, as he continues to juggle a career as a musician and songwriter, with his incredibly successful film industry career. He started his career as director. His directorial debut, Dil Chahta Hai was a runaway hit. He went on to direct the remake of Don and its sequel, Don 2. Besides that he has produced many successful films. As an actor he has won critical acclaim for his performances in Rock On, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. 

Says Farhan Akhtar,  “At its heart, Cinema is about sharing ones culture with the world. Be it on-screen or in representation of ones work. I look forward to sharing my experiences, memories and motivations.” The Screen Talk will be at the BFI Southbank on Wednesday 16th July.

Santosh Sivan is India’s most awarded cinematographer. He is also the only Indian member of the American Society of Cinematographers. He shot to prominence on the national stage with Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi and is celebrated for his work on Roja, Dil Se, Iruvar and Kaala Pani. His international credits include Bride & Prejudice and Mistress of Spices. Sivan debuted as a director with Halo, followed by Malli, both films aimed at children. His next film, The Terrorist, premiered at BFI London Film Festival and was championed by John Malkovich, who ensured that it found global distribution.

Sivan says, “For a visual artist, the world is a stage. And the BFI is the centre stage.” The Masterclass is at the BFI Southbank on Friday 11th July.

LIFF events at the BFI also include UK Premieres of Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost on Saturday 12th July and Apur Panchali on Sunday 13th July. LIFF opens with Sold, executive produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, on July 10, and closes with Hemalkasa, starring Nana Patekar on July 17.

LIFF partners include Pure Heaven, BFI, Cineworld, Grange Hotels, ICA, BAFTA, Asian Single Solution, DESIblitz.com, Asian Culture Vulture and Satyajit Ray Foundation.

LIFF 2014

‘Sold’ to open Indian Film Festival on 10 July

Sold  LIFFHard-hitting feature Sold will have its red carpet European Premiere at the opening of the Fifth annual London Indian Film Festival (10 – 17 July). Based on the bestselling novel Sold by Patricia McCormick, the film is a powerful drama based on real life events, and tells of a young Nepali girl’s struggle for survival after being sold into prostitution in Kolkata, and an American photographer (Gillian Anderson), who, against the odds, attempts to rescue her and other young women. The X Files and The Fall star Gillian Anderson is expected to participate in a Q&A in London at the film’s opening night amongst other talent.

Director Jeffrey D. Brown, Executive Producer Emma Thompson and Producer Jane Charles have worked tirelessly to bring this film to the screen researching every aspect of the story in depth with charities which deal directly with child trafficking in India including: Apne Aap, New Light, Sanlaap, Prajwala and in Nepal: Maiti Nepal, Shakti Samhua and Childreach International. Emma Thompson, president of the The Helen Bamber Foundation, works with survivors in London which is why she is informed on this issue and cares deeply about it.

The film is a collaboration between US and Indian production teams and includes supporting cast David Arquette (Conception) and Indian actors Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Parambrata Chatterjee (Apur Panchali), Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) and Susmita Mukherjee (Dostana). Debutante Niyar Saikia plays the central role of Lakshmi, the young girl from Nepal.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Asian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity.

The festival will open in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continue at BFI Southbank, ICA and Cineworld Cinemas around London. The festival is grant funded by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

About the screening, Executive Producer Emma Thompson comments: “It is wonderful to have our film premiered at London Indian Film Festival, to raise awareness of child-trafficking, which is an issue close to my heart and is shockingly on the increase world-wide. We hope that this film will make people think and highlight the support for key charities such as The Helen Bamber Foundation and others working in this difficult area in India, Nepal and elsewhere”

About the film, Actor Gillian Anderson states: “Working on this sensitively told film and with young women who have themselves experienced the un-believable trauma of abduction and trafficking has opened my eyes to the horrors these young people face on a daily basis as well as the often life threatening danger those working at the charities put themselves in to free these innocent victims from modern day slavery”

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director comments: “We are delighted that the festival is growing from strength to strength and that we have Sold for our opening night. It is a film which is remarkable on many fronts not least its riveting script and direction, but also gripping performances by Indian and US actors especially lead actor Niyar Saikia who brings so much power and heartfelt pathos to the role as the resilient young girl protagonist Lakshmi”

LIFF 2014

Akshay & Ashvini’s ’72 Miles Ek Pravas’ selected for Pune Film Festival

72 Miles Ek Pravas New PosterAfter taking the world by storm with their first Bollywood Film Production OMG Oh My God, Akshay Kumar and Ashvini Yardi have embarked on a journey of creating milestones in the entertainment industry with their regional ventures, 72 Miles Ek Pravas, a critically acclaimed Marathi regional film, and Bhaji in Problem, a Punjabi regional film which has garnered admiration internationally.

72 Miles Ek Pravas received positive feedback from international audiences when it was shortlisted at the celebrated London Indian Film Festival. Grazing Goat Pictures has now etched another feather in its hat with the film having its second reputable screening at the illustrious 12th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). 

72 Miles Ek Pravas, which was the duo’s debut into regional film fraternity, has stirred waves with its conceptual excellence and moving screenplay. A hard-hitting, poignant tale of a young boy who makes his journey into self-actualization against the backdrop of a rustic India, 72 Miles Ek Pravas, explores a beautiful, coming of age journey for the 13 year old boy Ashok and the companionable relationships he makes through his journey.

Commenting on the film Ashvini said, “We at Grazing Goat Pictures couldn’t have asked for a better end to 2013 and start in 2014. This has been an eventful year for us and to end it on such a positive note has just strengthened our plans further to bring quality entertainment to our audiences. Starting out with OMG which received a phenomenal response followed by the hard hitting 72 Miles Ek Pravas and then ending the year on a lighter note with Bhaji in Problem, this year has been greatly rewarding. However we lost one of our precious jewels Mr. Rajeev Patil which was the greatest loss to our team. We pay our tribute to him and the great work that he has contributed to the Indian film Industry which we can very proudly showcase at such an extensive platform”.

Commenting on the film, Akshay Kumar said, “72 Miles marks our first regional film and we’re delighted at the great honour and prestige the film has brought to the entire team of Grazing Goat Pictures. This project would have not been what it is today without Mr. Rajeev Patil’s impeccable direction and contribution to the film. We hope to continue the legacy and generate entertainment with great substance which will connect with our audiences. We would like to thank all audiences for all the love and appreciation they have bestowed upon us.”


Spotted: Irrfan Khan at Cineworld Feltham (London)

Award-winning actor Irrfan Khan made a quick visit to Cineworld Feltham in west-London last week to promote his latest release, D-Day, in association with the London Indian Film Festival.

Speaking to BollyNewsUK, the actor said: “I wish I could keep coming to London. It’s amazing to see the kind of warmth the people here have for me and the kind of hospitality they show. I am asking myself why I didn’t come to London earlier more often.” 

D-Day is out on general release in UK cinemas now. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

London Indian Film Festival 2013

Akshay Kumar’s regional film ’72 Miles Ek Pravas’ at LIFF

72 Miles Ek Pravas New PosterAfter taking the world by storm with their first Bollywood Film Production Oh My God (OMG), Akshay Kumar and Ashvini Yardi are on a journey of creating milestones in the entertainment industry with their latest venture, 72 Miles Ek Pravas

72 Miles Ek Pravas has been shortlisted to be screened at Europe’s No. 1 Festival for Indian Indie Cinema – The ‘London Indian Film Festival’ (LIFF). LIFF will be attracting international audiences for a screening of the film on 20th July in Central London, with support from partners including the BFI, Cineworld, Grange Hotels, ICA, BAFTA, Satyajit Ray Foundation and ZEE TV.

Other regional film to be screened at the LIFF are Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali and Urdu all with English subtitles to connect to an international audience.

72 Miles Ek Pravas, which is the duo’s debut into Regional Film production has been stirring waves with its conceptual excellence and moving screenplay. A hard-hitting, poignant tale of a young boy who makes his journey into self-actualization against the backdrop of a rustic India, 72 Miles Ek Pravas, explores a beautiful, coming of age journey for the 13 year old boy Ashok and the companionable relationships he makes through his journey.

Akshay and Ashvini are confident that their film will touch the hearts of audiences and give them a visual introspect of Ashok Vatkar’s autobiography. Inspired from the novel with the same name, 72 Miles Ek Pravas explores the impact of a woman named Raddhakka, on protagonist Ashok.

Spearheading investment into quality, subject-driven, film-making, Grazing Goat Pictures is taking Hindi and regional cinema to new heights with a range of innovative and fresh projects. Renowned for thought-provoking, unique and emotive film making across boundaries and genres, Grazing Goat Pictures delves deep to bring the audience films that are cutting edge and high-concept, resonating with multiple audiences domestically and across shores.

Ashvini Yardi & Akshay Kumar Commenting on the film Ashvini said, “We are filled with immense pride and gratification at opportunity to be able to screen 72 Miles Ek Pravas at the London Indian Film Festival. The film is very dear to Grazing Goat Pictures and we have produced a beautiful content driven film. There are no big stars or songs & dances but the films driving factors are the heart wrenching screenplay and the glorious performances. The motive behind bringing this film to London is to make this film available to Global audiences and connect with the masses on an emotional level. We hope that the film is well received and we succeed in creating the impact that we set out to!”

Commenting on the film, Akshay Kumar said, “72 Miles marks our first regional film and we’re delighted to announce the release date. Marathi isn’t my first language but living in Mumbai I picked up the language very quickly and immersed myself in the culture. I’ve seen some really interesting Marathi projects and love the cinema. I am personally touched by the story of 72 Miles and I hope the audience likes it as much as we do.”

72 Miles Ek Pravas releases on the 9th of August, 2013

LIFF 2013 to showcase Monsoon Shootout and Bombay Talkies

Bombay Talkies

Amit Kumar’s trigger happy Monsoon Shootout will be the red carpet UK Premiere opening night film of the Fourth annual London INDIAN Film Festival (July 18-25), together with O2.

This film is a version of Sliding Doors meets a hyper-real cop thriller, which will have you on the edge of your seats. Closing the festival will be a special UK premiere of favourite Bombay Talkies with four magical stories by acclaimed directors Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap exploring 100 years of Indian cinema, studded with top independent and Bollywood stars. Both films had a triumphant reception at the recent Cannes Film Festival and special guests are expected to both screenings.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity. For the first time, the festival is going on tour to Bradford and Glasgow.

The festival will stretch citywide, opening in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continuing at BFI Southbank, Cineworld cinemas, Shaftesbury Avenue, Wood Green, Wandsworth, Staples Corner, and the O2 in Royal Greenwich, the Peckamplex and ICA near the Pall Mall, so there is a screening near you, traversing iconic sights and sounds of the city of London like a Monopoly game board.

The centrepiece ‘In conversation’ on Saturday 20th July at the BFI Southbank, will be with Actor Irrfan Khan, one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema, talking to award winning director of Senna, Asif Kapadia. Khan’s memorable film roles include BAFTA winner, The Warrior and Oscar winners, Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi and Hollywood biggies like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Darjeeling Limited and The Namesake, and Bollywood hits Life In A Metro, Mumbai Meri Jaan, New York and Paan Singh Tomar.

As well as films in the Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi languages, and the festival’s first Pakistani film Josh, in Urdu, the festival will host a rare ‘Life in Pictures’ Masterclass, by the great South Indian Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, on 19th July at BFI Southbank.

London Indian Film Festival also has films and events for a wide range of audiences and includes industry events at BAFTA, exploring UK and Indian subcontinent co-productions. The winner of the annual Satyajit Ray short film competition will be announced at the end of the festival at The Nehru Centre in Mayfair.

The festival is delighted to announce that their Major sponsors this year will include O2 International Sim, and the festival is also grant funded for the first time, by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director comments, “We are delighted that the festival is growing from strength to strength. If you want to find out more about South Asian cinema come and soak yourself in a week of magnificent films in London, or catch the festival tour in Bradford and Glasgow.”


London Indian Film Festival 2013



Aaranya Kaandam wins Western Union Audience Award at London Indian Film Festival

Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s feature Aaranya Kaandam (Anima and Persona), starring Jackie Shroff, Sampath Raj, Yasmin Ponnappa and Ravi Krishna has won the Western Union Audience Award at the 3rd London Indian Film Festival (LIFF, June 20 – July 3). SP Charan’s Capital Film Works produced the film.

Kumararaja said: “I don’t know what to say. It’s nice to know that people in Europe loved the film and in fact, that people across continents love the film. It also worked with audiences in the US and with the jury at the Indian National Awards. And it is appreciated now in Europe also. I’m thrilled.”

Charan said: “I’m happy and proud of Aaranya Kaandam’s success this year. On behalf of Capital Film Works and the crew of Aaranya Kaandam, I would like to first of all congratulate London Indian Film Festival on a successful event this year and secondly thank them for such a prestigious honour bestowed on my movie.”

Also at the festival this year’s Satyait Ray Foundation Short Film Award and a £1,000 prize, was won by Neeraj Ghaywan’s Shor (Noise). Ghaywan said: “I’m delighted to accept this award from the Satyajit Ray Foundation and the London Indian Film Festival. More so because the name Ray is attached to it – such a legendary filmmaker that we all grew up on. I also want to thank Anurag Kashyap. He’s my mentor and I’m here because of him in this world of filmmaking. I’ve learnt everything from him.” 

Meghna Gupta’s short Unravel was given a Special Mention by the jury that comprised directors Eran Creevy (Welcome To The Punch), Suri Krishnamma (The Grief Tourist), Andrew Hinton, winner of the 2011 Satyajit Ray Foundation Award for Amar, and Satwant Gill from LIFF.

Aaranya Kaandam

 The festival opened with the sold out UK Premiere of the much-lauded Cannes hit Gangs of Wasseypur, attended by Anurag Kashyap. It closed with a packed screening of the multiple award winning Bengali film Baishey Srabon (Seventh August). Lead actress of Baishey Srabon, Raima Sen walked the red carpet and participated in a post screening Q&A with director Sangeeta Datta (Life Goes On). The opening and closing nights of the festival are supported by Sanona, a brand new on-demand pay per view film service.

Raima Sen said: “It feels great to come back to London, especially for the London Indian Film Festival. It’s my first time at the festival and I’m very happy to know that two of my films Abosheshey (At the end of it all) and Baishey Srabon (Seventh August), were chosen. One hasn’t even been released in India yet and the other has been a huge success there. I think the festival is important, as it generates a lot of awareness, and it gives a wider audience to our cinema. I think it’s a great platform.”

London Indian Film Festival is supported by Film London’s Cultural Film Exhibition Fund through the National Lottery on behalf of the BFI. Partners include Arts Council of England, Cineworld Cinemas, Western Union, Incredible India, Grange Hotels, Skillset, The Nehru Centre, BollySpice, Asiana.tv and Zee TV  amongst others.

Jennifer and Saeed Jaffrey
 Raima Sen


Spotted: Anurag Kashyap at London Indian Film Festival

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap was spotted at the opening night of the London Indian Film Festival and UK Premiere of his latest release ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’.

The opening night of LIFF 2012 was also attended by Ferena Wazeir, Upen Patel, Rachel Dwyer and director Q.

Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma was also spotted watching the film at Cineworld, Haymarket and was seated next to Anurag Kashyap, who she is rumoured to be working with in Bombay Velvet

Check out these photos from the event:


Susheela Raman to perform at LIFF 2012

The London Indian Film Festival has announced that Mercury nominated musician Susheela Raman will perform alongside acclaimed filmmaker and rapper Q, in a unique first of its kind event that marries the heady vibe of the controversial film Gandu with a pulsating interactive concert.
June 21 will see BFI Southbank reverberate to the strains of Raman and Q’s band Gandu Circus along with special guest Steve Chandra Savale from the Asian Dub Foundation, following a screening of Gandu. The Arts Council of England will support the event.
Festival director, Cary Rajinder Sawhney says: “As part of the festival we are undertaking several exciting new commissions, mixing film and arts. Gandu Circus, a live Jungle-rap rock performance by Kolkata based rapper and revolutionary film director Q is intercut with stunning visual imagery, with the powerful voice of Susheela Raman making the experience transcendental. The film Gandu was never publicly released in India, especially due to the blatant drug usage, expletives and full frontal sex. It makes the film Shame look tame.”
Q, one of the most controversial yet critically acclaimed directors in India, is excited about this one-off performance: “Gandu Circus was born out of the film. But swiftly, the band developed its own voice and feel. It was very intense, to observe the morphing of the music, from punk rock to electro, and the establishment of a confident tone. It was as if Gandu leaped out of the film and decided to get on with it. Jiver and Neel give the band the unique sound, and set it up for me to shout and scream and make a complete nuisance of myself.”
“For me, it’s a beautiful dream, to be performing in London now, especially at BFI Southbank – the home of British cinema. Susheela Raman will be joining us in this gig, which is absolutely f***ing crazy. I am overjoyed and dying with nervousness at the very thought. She’s the queen of indie Indians. This one is for the movement, right! Also, there’s Steve Chandra Savale, our main man from ADF. Finally, Gandu’s dream will be fulfilled,” adds Q.
Susheela Raman is as enthused: “I got to know Q on my travels to India and was immediately struck by the intensity and fearlessness he has and which he brings to his work. I loved the idea of the film being about a rebel rock musician in Kolkata and the taboo-shredding edginess of the whole Gandu concept. He’s a visionary, in terms of pushing boundaries of Indian cinema and it’s a real bonus that he is a musician as well as the filmmaker. We were looking for an opportunity to perform together and the London Indian Film Festival provided just that.”
Raman continues: “Collaborating at the BFI, with Sam Mills on the guitar, and the Gandu Circus, is going to be a real adventure. I most recently performed at the South Bank during the Alchemy Festival, bringing together Pakistani Qawwali with my London and Indian based sounds, and the audience and media response was amazing. To be back, with something like this, a world first, is indeed exciting. I’ve been following the London Indian Film Festival since inception and their programming is something I feel has filled a gap in cinema. Last year, my mate Raghu Dixit performed at the festival and this year, this event at BFI is set to push some boundaries, just like Q’s film Gandu has done.”
Tickets are currently on sale at the BFI Southbank. www.bfi.org.uk

3rd London Indian Film Festival

 The 3rd Edition of the London Indian Film Festival (20 June – July 3) is a feast for the senses, featuring circuses, mobsters, cockfights, transvestites and kite-flying, set in some of the world’s greatest cities and some never before seen virgin locations.

With funding from Film London and supported by the BFI and BAFTA, and sponsored by Western Union, the festival brings to UK audiences a selection of cutting edge films from some of the hottest independent talents from India, UK, US and Bangladesh.

The UK Premiere of Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, right after its full house screenings at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, opens the festival, at Cineworld, Haymarket on 20 June. British director Danny Boyle has cited Kashyap’s Black Friday as an inspiration for Slumdog Millionaire. The film is produced by Viacom 18.

The festival hosts World Premieres of two British films. Tooting Broadway featuring Elizabeth Henstridge,who has been touted the next Keira Knightley, from her beginnings in the TV series Hollyoaks, to her new status in Hollywood, where she will be seen in the upcoming horror film by the Butcher Brothers’, The Thompsons. Arjun and Alison has a storyline with parallels to the murder of British teenager, Stephen Lawrence and is a film that tackles racism in British society.

The festival will go on to showcase the work of the new wave of independent South Asian and British Asian filmmakers, including a director only named as Q, Rajan Khosa and Srijit Mukherji, whose thrill a minute Baishey Srabon (Seventh August) will close the festival on July 3, alongside a Q&A with its beautiful actress, Raima Sen.

The festival will stretch city-wide, in venues like the Tate Modern, Cineworld O2 and ICA for the very first time and returning venues like the BFI Southbank, Nehru Centre, Watermans and Cineworlds Trocadero, Wood Green and Wandsworth. Delhi In A Day engages the British writer of All God’s Creatures, Billy Fox, as the storyline consultant. US film A Decent Arrangement stars Adam Laupus (Law & Order) and Shabana Azmi (Kathyrn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children).

Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney says: “As part of the festival we are undertaking several exciting new commissions, mixing film and arts, one of these is Gandu Circus – a live Jungle – rap rock performance by Kolkata based rapper and revolutionary film director, Q. This performance will be performed on stage at BFI Southbank on 21st June after a screening of Q’s film Gandu, a compelling story of a young Bengali teenager addicted to rap and sexual fantasies. Expect some special guests on stage including Asian Dub Foundation’s Steve Chandra Savale, joining Q for this one-off, unforgettable performance!”

Glamour, dancing and fabulous saris; award-winning Queens! Destiny of Dance is set in a palace owned by head transvestite Ammu, played by Seema Biswas (of Bandit Queen fame). Pride London will be cross promoting this event. A definite family favourite will be Busan International Film Festival audience award winner Dekh Indian Circus with Q&A by Tannishtha Chatterjee (BIFA nominated for Brick Lane).

London Indian Film Festival is supported by Film London’s Cultural Film Exhibition Fund through the National Lottery on behalf of the BFI. Partners include Arts Council of England, Cineworld Cinemas, Western Union, Incredible India, Grange Hotels, Skillset, The Nehru Centre, BollySpice, Asiana.tv, Zee TV, Sanona, amongst others.

The Satyajit Ray Foundation’s Short Film Competition has joined the Festival with the winning filmmaker receiving a £1,000 Award on 3 July at Cineworld, Haymarket. All audiences at the festival will be encouraged to vote for this year’s Western Union Audience Award and the winning feature film will be announced at the close of the festival. Tickets are currently on sale at the BFI and Watermans and sales will commence at Cineworld and other venues from 1st June.

Shotguns and Saris – the 3rd edition of the London Indian Film Festival launches

Celebrating the burgeoning movement of alternative Indian cinema, the third annual London Indian Film Festival, will run from 20 June – 3 July.

Supported by Film London and Western Union, the festival brings to UK audiences a selection of cutting edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, these are films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India today in all its colour and diversity.

This year the festival is  also broadening their horizons to include World Premieres of two UK Asian movies and films from neighbouring Asian countries.

Following the Opening Night UK Premiere screening of Gangs of Wasseypur by maverick Mumbai director Anurag Kashyap, produced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, and starring Manoj Bajpai, the festival will go on to showcase the work of the new wave of independent South Asian and British Asian filmmakers, including a director only named as ‘Q’, Rajan Khosa and Srijit Mukherji, whose thrill a minute whodunit Baishey Shrabon (Seventh August) will close the festival on July 3.  

The festival will stretch city-wide, opening in the West End at the Cineworld Haymarket and continuing at Tate Modern, BFI Southbank, ICA, Nehru Centre, Watermans, Cineworld Trocadero, Wood Green, Wandsworth and O2.

The Festival covers a wide range of themes and issues – gun-toting action movies, the struggles of frustrated urban youth, twisted romance, Tamil gangsters in the heart of London, kite flying childhood rites of passage to a sari-clad drag queen extravaganza. Uniting these films is a new more assured Indian cool, experimenting with cinematic styles, sexual liberality, new technology and influenced by themes both East and West, which has helped new Indian cinema win favour with the young in-crowd in super cities like Mumbai and Bangalore as well as with connoisseurs of world cinema across the globe.

For the first time the festival joins forces with Tate Modern to curate a season of new Indian experimental film and video which will stretch understandings of the boundaries between film and art.

India is the largest film producing country in the world producing some 1,200 films a year, outstripping Hollywood. But apart from mainstream Bollywood, very few of these films are seen in the UK. 

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director comments, “In addition to showing great movies, we also aim to help get these films talked about and screened more broadly in cinemas in the UK, in the same way that Iranian cinema has been. London of course has a huge Asian audience for these movies, but many non-Asian Brits would also like to find out more about the 1.2 billion strong India of today, and cinema is a great way to do this”.

London Indian Film Festival is supported by Film London’s Cultural Film Exhibition Fund through the National Lottery on behalf of the BFI.

Interview with Abhinay Deo at the UK Premiere of Delhi Belly

Exclusive Interview with Abhinay Deo.

Abhinay Deo is well known in the entertainment circuit as he has directed over 250 advertisements and made his debut in Hindi cinema with the Abhishek Bachchan starrer “Game”. Although his debut film released before Delhi Belly, the young filmmaker had completed shooting this film before he started his debut venture.
His second film as a director is produced by Aamir Khan and has opened The London Indian Film Festival 2011. Deo jetted into London to be there at the World Premiere of his second directorial and took some time out to chat to us.

Welcome to London

Thank you.

How are you feeling at the moment?

Anxious, excited… everything.

What was your first thought when you read the script of Delhi Belly ?

My thought was that this kind of a film needs to be made immediately. I wanted to jump on the film and make it immediately because I think, it was high time that a film like this got made in India for the Indian youth.

Is it hard to direct something like this, a dead pan comedy?
It is hard from the point of view that there is no precedence to it. Nobody has really done this and been able to pull this through. When there is precedence then you can always look back and say what has worked for somebody and what has not worked for somebody and use that for your advantage.
But here there was nothing of that sort in India. The bigger challenge was to get the actors tuned into deadpan stuff because they are not used to that. To make it even tougher, the basic language of the film was in English, so that made it even worse. I think from that point of view, we managed pretty well.

How would you describe the story of Delhi Belly?

Delhi Belly is about three guys and it’s kind of a span of four to five days in their life. By the end of the five days, because of the different things that have happened in their life they have come to age, almost.
It’s a story of that kind but there is no whatsoever message that we are trying to pass to the youth. It is an irreverent and fun film. It’s just a film about crazy shit that happens to them.

Imran Khan recently revealed that it took him about 5 screen tests before he was confirmed for the role. Why did it take so many screen tests for him, Vir Das and Kunal Roy Kapoor ?

First of all, the problem is that auditions in advertising, where I come from and in Hollywood are not a big thing. It happens all the time. Auditioning is the way we cast for our films, so it is a little surprising for people in Bollywood. They almost get offended, though Imran was a great sport. He was fantastic as he did not flinch at all, because he was very clear that he wanted to do this film. But we did a whole lot of auditions because it was a challenge for me to get the right actors, as we were not casting out of the usual suspects, honestly speaking. So we wanted to get the right cast, the right person from the industry, maybe not from the industry, maybe someone completely fresh. They have to fit the bit and the role. The most important part was that they needed to be natural because that was my pre-requisite. That is the reason why we had multiple auditions for all these actors before we could finalise them.

It seems like Hindi cinema has grown to be more accepting of this film, more so maybe than it would have been in 2009. Would you say that to be true?

I really don’t know. I mean who is to say that? This is speculation. I really don’t know because everything has its own time and I believe in that. Whatever happens, happens at the right time and for the right reason. So, I don’t know. If two years ago Delhi Belly would have come out, who knows what would have happened.

Would you not have liked to have Delhi Belly as your debut film ?
I would like to have a Ferrari at this point of time. I would like to go to the moon (laughs).
The point is that, it is in our hands to make sure that we work hard and that we make a great film.
After that we just need to leave a few things to fat and then just trust it, believe in it and hope for the best after that.

Are you completely happy with the final product?

Absolutely, I am ecstatic.

Tell us about working with Imran, Kunal and Vir.

You know what happened in this film was very unique. Before the film started, I wanted to do a workshop. So for fifteen days, we actually put these three boys together.
In the film, these three boys are supposed to have stayed together for almost two years and they are buddies. I wanted to make sure that these three boys look like they are best friends and that they have stayed in that space for long enough. In the workshop, we went over the script, the lines, the scenes, the camaraderie and they actually ended up becoming friends over those fifteen days.
That I think is the unique factor and all of them are fantastic actors. I think Imran Khan has just outdone himself in this movie.

What do you think is the best thing about the film?

The irreverence of the film is the best thing about the film, I think. It is absolute irreverent and is not passing any kind of message.

This is also very unusual for Aamir Khan Productions to come out with a film like Delhi Belly. How much involvement did Aamir have in the production of this film?

Yes, it is very unusual for them produce a film like this. Aamir had no involvement in the pre-production and he was not there while we were shooting. He was shooting for one of his own films. After my ‘director’s cut’ was ready (about two years ago), he saw the film and then there were two other films that he was producing; Peepli Live and Dhobhi Ghat. We all decided together that we are going to give it a bit of a pause and keep this in the cold storage because Khan is a guy who likes to take one film at a time.
He took those other two films and released them well and then we got back to this project and fine tuned the director’s cut and here we are.

The music is fabulous.
Ram Sampat is just a genius.

Which one is your favourite song?

My favourite song, of course Bhag D.K Bose is everyone’s favourite but because I have lived with these songs for so long, I really love Tere Siwa.
It’s a love song and is not very popular and it’s just in the background in the film, like most of the songs. But Tera Siwa is just a fantastic song and is one of the best love songs I have heard in a very long time.
Switty Tera Pyaar is another favourite of mine and it is just absolutely hilarious.

What do you think about the music videos as they were shot just recently?
I love the video of Switty Tera Pyaar and Nakaddwalley Disco. It’s hilarious, I mean that Qawali is mind blowing.

What about Aamir Khan’s item song? How did that come about?

We really contemplated as to how we are going to do that item song. Finally, we managed to convince Aamir to take over the item girl’s part and become an item man and rise up to the occasion and just do it.
I think that he has just outdone any item girl that I have seen before (laughs).

What should the audience expect from the film?
They should expect a laugh.  Please do not expect a message because you will be really disappointed. I would just say to the audience to enjoy the film and that it is going to be crazy fun and look forward to Delhi Bellies in their life (smiling).

What went into the decision to premiere the film at the London India Film Festival?
There was so much speculation about this movie at that time and then Cary Rajinder Sawhney, the director of the festival saw the film and he believed that this is the right film that should open the festival.

What about the reports that the film was going to premiere at Cannes Film Festival?

We were planning at a point to premiere the film at Cannes Film Festival but we missed the deadline, as we were not ready with the print.

What is next for you?

I am waiting for a script to come my way which excites me as much as Delhi Belly did.