The 3rd edition of the London Indian Film Festival (June 20 – July 3) features World Premieres of two provocative British films, Tooting Broadway (June 22) and Arjun & Alison (June 30) with the entire cast and crew of both films attending.
Tooting Broadway is a racy urban flick about Tamil and Caribbean gang rivalries set in South London and the conflicts within the central character torn between his loyalty to his increasingly dangerous mates and the need to escape to a better life. The fast paced story features a star-making turn from Elizabeth Henstridge, Britain’s latest export to Hollywood.
Director Devanand Shanmugam says: “Tooting Broadway was born when Producer Joshua Clement pitched his idea to me over one of our creative brainstorming meetings. He suggested that we make a film about the Tamils living in the UK, which is connected to our Tamil backgrounds and it was a good idea because no British or Indian filmmaker had until now ventured into portraying this culture in the UK Cinema. This excited and inspired me, as I was able to connect to the subject being a Tamil. We started to develop the idea together. One morning, I almost had an epiphany and visualized how this film can be made different – the answer was to introduce a non-linear narrative. This worked well for the plot. I began writing the characters and scenes that I thought would form the film’s core story line. Once Tikiri Hulugalle came onboard as the writer, he took notes of these ideas and told me exactly what I wanted to hear from a writer “I know how to write this!”
Arjun & Alison is an unflinching look at a racially motivated murder and its aftermath. The film successfully pulls off the feats of taking a balanced look at race relations in contemporary Britain, the dorm lives of overseas students and the country’s thriving drug and gun subculture. Debutant director Sidharth Sharma has signed his next film with Bollywood mogul Mahesh Bhat on the back of his first feature.
Director Sidharth Sharma says: “The story of Arjun & Alison was inspired after true life events, when I got caught up in the Birmingham riots of 2009. I witnessed them, as it was the day I landed in the city after two years of film school in India. It was very shocking to witness the youth fighting and police trying to bring things under control. This got me thinking. After collaboration and many months of exchanges with scriptwriter Andy Conway a feature script surfaced and the film was born. Arjun & Alison is a gritty new revenge thriller that tackles racism on all sides and takes no prisoners. The selection at London Indian Film Festival and our World Premiere on June 30 at the Cineworld Haymarket has been a dream come true and come to us at the right time. It will give us the opportunity to proudly showcase our film for a vast and diverse audience in London.”
Tooting Broadway premieres June 22 and Arjun & Alison June 30 at the Cineworld Haymarket. Tickets are on sale now.
Running Time | 95 mins | UK
Director: Devanand Shanmugam
Actors: Elizabeth Henstridge, Nav Sidhu, Oliver Cotton, Kabelan Verlkumar.
22 JUNE | 19:00 | CINEWORLD HAYMARKET
28 JUNE | 20:00 | CINEWORLD WANDSWORTH
29 JUNE | 19:00 | CINEWORLD O2
A racy urban crime drama set in 2009 whose South London location lends a gritty feel to a fast paced story. 24 hours before the Tamil protests outside the Houses of Parliament, Arun (Sidhu) returns home to stop his younger brother Ruthi (Verlkumar) from participating in a criminal act that could ruin his life. Arun is granted a day by his mysterious employer, Marcus (Cotton) to talk Ruthi round. Once back he meets an old flame, Kate (Henstridge) who is struggling with a big decision herself while Arun’s friendship with a gang leader threatens to suck him back into a world he left behind. The political tension provides the backdrop for Arun’s need to forge a life away from his past versus his obligation to his family, friends and his Tamil roots. Tooting Broadway portrays a community and a rarely seen subculture – Sri Lankan Tamil gangs – and brilliantly deploys the themes of family, loyalty and honour.
Followed by Q&A with Director Devanand Shanmugam, Producer Joshua Clement and cast members.
ARJUN & ALISON | WORLD PREMIERE
Running Time | 95 mins | UK/India
Director: Sidharth Sharma
Actors: Monique Squeri, Shiv Jhala, Oliver Squires, Kulvinder Ghir
30 JUNE | 18:00 | CINEWORLD HAYMARKET
01 JULY | 18:00 | CINEWORLD O2
Set between Birmingham and London, Sidharth Sharma’s outstanding directorial debut is an unflinching look at a racially motivated murder and its aftermath. Arjun (Jhala), from India, and Alison (Squeri), from the United States, are students at a university in Birmingham whose lives are transformed forever when their black friend dies after a racist attack. The prime suspect is Gordon (Squires), the leader of the university’s controversial ‘English Society’. Besides dealing with the trauma of their friend’s death, Arjun and Alison also have to confront the ghosts of their own pasts. The film successfully pulls off the feats of taking a balanced look at race relations in contemporary Britain, the dorm lives of overseas students and the country’s thriving drug and gun subculture. Featuring an all-British cast and crew and an Indo-British director and finance, the film is a shining example of co-production between two countries linked forever by history and culture.
Followed by Q&A with Director Sidharth Sharma and cast.
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 and Eastern Eye, amongst others. The opening and closing nights of the festival are supported by Sanona, a brand new on-demand pay per view film service.