Bigger, bolder and beyond Bollywood – London INDIAN Film Festival

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Celebrating the burgeoning movement of alternative Indian cinema, the second annual London INDIAN Film Festival will run from 30 June – 12 July, bringing 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.

Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney says, “This summer, London INDIAN Film Festival (LIFF) returns to the city for its second edition. Building on last year’s massive success, we are more determined than ever to bring you the hottest new Indian independent cinema across London, in some of the capital’s most prestigious venues. Our programming team has been busy finding you the best work from some of India’s most innovative and challenging filmmakers.

“We think of ‘India’ as a state of mind, with its huge spectrum of identities, its admirers, its neighbours and the vast number of people around the world who connect to it, including British Asians. LIFF’S heady cocktail of films are as unpredictable as the London summer, but we promise that whatever movie you decide to attend, you’ll leave entertained, surprised and perhaps even a little shocked!”

Following the Opening Night World Premiere screening of Delhi Belly, produced by Aamir Khan Productions and UTV Motion Pictures, starring Imran Khan, the festival will go on to showcase the work of India’s new wave of independent filmmakers, including Anurag Kashyap and Rituparno Ghosh. The festival will stretch city wide, opening in the West End at the Cineworld Haymarket and continuing at V&A, BFI Southbank, Nehru Centre, Watermans, Cineworld Trocadero, Feltham, Wood Green and Ilford and The University of Westminster.

On the heels of three Glastonbury performances and a stellar appearance on Later… with Jools Holland, singer and film composer Raghu Dixit will perform before the closing night film Autograph on July 12.

The Festival covers a wide range of themes and issues from family dramas, coming-of age tales to twisted, urban teen-romance. 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, as well as with connoisseurs of world cinema across the globe.

India is the largest film producing country in the world producing some 1,000 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 added, “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.”

For more information and booking details please Tickets are currently on sale at the BFI and V&A and sales will commence at other venues on June 15.

The London INDIAN Film Festival opens at Cineworld, Haymarket on 30 June with the World Premiere of the bad-boy comedy Delhi Belly, produced by the hit-maker and superstar Aamir Khan and directed by Abhinay Deo. The film stars teen heartthrob Imran Khan. With a nod to Brit-gangster flicks such as Snatch, it tells of a group of hapless mates who end up being hunted by the local mafia after one of them accidentally mixes up a smuggler’s package with his stool sample (He ate some dodgy Tandoori chicken). The film reaches its climax in true heist style with a riot of mix-ups and high-speed chases, while unsuspecting English tourists duck for cover. Delhi Belly will have its worldwide release the next day, 1 July.

Other highlights of the festival include a special screening of Colours of Passion at the V&A, an homage to the revolutionary painter Raja Ravi Varma whose paintings in the 1890s influenced modern Indian art and cinema. The film by Ketan Mehta pushes the envelope of eroticism as the painter seduces his gorgeous muse, leading to Bombay’s scandal of the century, it a great complement to the V&A’s Cult of Beauty season.

Maverick Mumbai director Anurag Kashyap who has worked with Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is at the BFI Southbank with his shocking new film That Girl in the Yellow Boots which tells of a young girl of UK/Indian mixed parentage who goes in search of her Indian father in Mumbai but discovers a terrible secret in the squalid underbelly of the city of dreams.

One of Kolkata’s top directors Rituparno Ghosh changes sides of the camera to act in two new sophisticated films that reinforce Kolkata’s reputation as a major challenger to Bollywood.

Memories in March connects us with the life of Aarti (played by Deepti Naval), a middle aged woman who goes to Kolkata to pick up her deceased son’s belongings, only to learn about his world and find that she didn’t really know him at all. Ghosh will also introduce Just Another Love Story, an awe-inspiringly brave tale about two generations of transsexuals in Bengal and the life and loves of a famous, female impersonator Chapal Bhaduri, as told through the eyes of a gay Delhi director.

A definite family favourite will be the warm-hearted White Elephant, about a ceremonial elephant who is worshipped by a village in Kerala. Each year the elephant chooses which villager will look after him. But elephants are high maintenance! Much to everyone’s surprise the wily giant taps the local drunk on the shoulder with his trunk. The drunk and his family are beside themselves but the elephant god must be obeyed.

Winner of an Indian National Award The Way Home sensitively explores fears of terrorism and nationhood in the modern state of India. A young doctor (played by Kerala star Prithviraj) accedes to a dying woman’s request that he will agree to re-unite her son with his father. He agrees not realising that the father is in fact the leader of an Indian Jihadi terrorist group.

The Closing Night Film is the UK Premiere hit movie Autograph, where a young filmmaker gets his big break, not only to remake the classic film Nayak by master filmmaker Satyajit Ray, but to also to direct the city’s greatest superstar. As the production proceeds new found power and the promise of fame go to his head, while he has to compromise all, including his girlfriend, to follow his dream.

Be sure to check out the LIFF website for more information and schedules here.

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