Cinematic confluence at the London Indian Film Festival
The fourth edition of the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) opened at the Cineworld Haymarket on July 18 with the screening of ‘Monsoon Shootout’, written and directed by Amit Kumar. The film garnered plaudits for its gripping and layered storyline. The film had also won rave reviews at Cannes recently.
Monsoon remains the leitmotif of the film that has Vijay Varma and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead roles. Compelling cinematography by Rajeev Ravi defines the narrative of the film, which hinges on a broody tale about a good-natured rookie cop and a tenacious, hatchet-brandishing goon in the alleys of Mumbai.
The film festival had on its guest list many a celebrities. Actor Irrfan Khan was also present at the premier of LIFF. Khan’s memorable film roles include BAFTA winner ‘The Warrior’ and Oscar winners ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and the ‘Life of Pi’ besides Hollywood biggies such as ‘The Amazing Spiderman’, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’, and ‘The Namesake’. His roles in Bollywood hits ‘Life In a Metro’, ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, ‘New York’ are noteworthy. Khan’s convincing portrayal of athlete-turned-dacoit in ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ won him the National Award earlier this year.
The highlights of the fete include a ‘masterclass’ session with veteran filmmaker Adoor Goplakrishnan, who will speak about his internationally successful career and an ‘in conversation’ session where in Irrfan Khan will share his experiences in British, Hollywood and Indian film industries.
LIFF celebrates the exploding movement of Indian independent cinema and brings to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from 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.
“We are delighted that the festival is growing from strength to strength,” said Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director, LIFF.
List of films being screened at the LIFF:
B.A. PASS | Dir. Ajay Bahl | Hindi, Punjabi, with English subtitles
The Graduate meets film noir in this sizzling tale of seduction and betrayal where a young man is seduced by a gorgeous cougar who leaves him entranced, that is until she farms him out to entertain her lady friends with dangerous consequences. The film’s steamy trailer drew millions of hits on YouTube and the eroticism of the film has drawn the ire of India’s moral police.
BOMBAY TALKIES | Dirs. Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Bannerjee, Anurag Kashyap | Hindi, Marathi with English subtitles |Closing Film.
Mumbai’s spectacular homage to 100 years of Indian cinema is a compilation of four films shot by some of its finest directors that boldly tackles gay and cross-dressing themes alongside looks at different aspects of stardom.
THE BRIGHT DAY | Dir. Mohit Takalkar | Hindi, Marathi, English with English subtitles.
An unfocused young man cannot get to grips with his humdrum middle class life, leaves behind his family and girlfriend and goes on a trip across India to find himself and what follows is a visual extravaganza taking in temples, rivers, palaces and deserts with a supporting cast of European backpackers and holy men.
ELIPPATHAYAM (RAT-TRAP) | Dir. Adoor Gopalakrishnan | Malayalam with English subtitles.
This milestone of Indian cinema deftly documents the tale of a man and his three sisters who cannot comprehend the sweeping changes arising from the demise of feudalism in the southern Indian state of Kerala. The film won the Sutherland Award at the London Film Festival in 1982, the only Indian film to have won the coveted award after Satyajit Ray’s win in 1959 for The World of Apu.
THE GOOD ROAD | Dir. Gyan Correa | Gujarati with English subtitles.
A young boy from Mumbai separated from his parents, is befriended by a truck driver and his surly assistant who are on a perilous smuggling trip and a young girl on a deeply personal quest is in imminent danger of becoming part of the flesh trade, all set against the backdrop of the stark beauty of one of India’s most isolated and dangerous locations, Kutch.
JOSH (AGAINST THE GRAIN) | Dir. Iram Parveen Bilal | Urdu, English with English subtitles | Special screening in association with Women in Film & TV (UK).
This empowering film is LIFF’s first ever selection from Pakistan and tackles the themes of class separation, feudalism, poverty, individual empowerment and women’s rights head on and takes no prisoners en route.
LIFE IS GOOD | Dir. Ananth Mahadevan | Hindi with English subtitles.
A warm-hearted tale of the unlikely friendship between a lonely and depressed post office worker (Bollywood star Jackie Shroff) and a 6-year-old schoolgirl.
LUCIA | Dir. Pawan Kumar | Kannada, English with English subtitles.
In a drama that breaks new ground for Kannada cinema, an usher in a run-down cinema finds himself suffering from insomnia. Soon, he gets the most incredible, weird and wonderful dreams that have life-changing properties. But these come at a price! Set against the backdrop of the teeming metropolis that is Bangalore, ‘Lucia’ is a vibrant rollercoaster ride that blurs the line between dreams and reality to extraordinary effect. Cinemagoers are also being urged not to disclose the surprise ending! Just as fascinating as the film itself is the story of how it was made by Pawan Kumar, director of the award-winning hit ‘Lifeu Ishtene.’ The first crowd-funded production in Kannada cinema history, ‘Lucia’ was financed entirely by its eager audience. This London Indian Film Festival screening is the film’s world premiere.
MAPA (MAP) | Dir. Elías León Siminiani. Spanish, English with English subtitles.
LIFF’s first Spanish selection follows a young filmmaker who travels from Spain to India to retrace a journey taken by his ex-girlfriend. It won Best Documentary at the Seville Film Festival and was nominated in the same category at Spain’s prestigious Goya Awards.
MONSOON SHOOTOUT | Dir. Amit Kumar | Hindi with English subtitles | Opening Film.
One of the first films made under the UK/India film co-production treaty, this film executive produced by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia (Senna) follows a rookie cop in monsoon-lashed Mumbai who faces a life altering decision, whether to shoot, or not to shoot an escaping suspect.
PUNE 52 | Dir. Nikhil Mahajan | Marathi with English subtitles.
The life of a private detective undergoes a dramatic change when he takes up a case that is deeply personal and highly complex. Set in the year 1992, against the backdrop of the finance reform policy that spiralled the Indian middle class into a tizzy of consumerism, reforming everything, including their relationships.
SHAHID | Dir. Hansal Mehta | Hindi with English subtitles.
This extremely topical film tells the true story of a former Muslim radical who becomes a lawyer and takes on his greatest and most controversial case, defending one of the men accused of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
TASHER DESH (THE LAND OF CARDS) | Dir. Q. | Bengali with English subtitles.
After shocking the world with Gandu, director Q returns with this psychedelic take on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s namesake play where a prince and his friend are shipwrecked on a militant paradise island where human behaviour is outlawed all the soldiers style themselves after a deck of playing cards. The soundtrack features Asian Dub Foundation, Susheela Raman, Sam Mills, Eric Truffaz, Moog Conspiracy and Anusheh.
The London Indian Film Festival concludes on July 25.