LIFF Special Report: Closing Night Red Carpet and Sexy Durga

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Parting is such sweet sorrow and none more so than to see the end of the 2017 London Indian Film Festival. After a rollercoaster week’s worth of films, we saw the closing of the London portion of the festival at the BFI Southbank with the English premiere of Sexy Durga.

The night began with a star-studded red carpet event. BollySpice was on hand to mix with the movers and shakers of the Festival. In particular, we caught up with executive and programming director Cary Rajinder Sawhney who had promised at the beginning of the run that this year would be the best ever. We asked him whether he stood by that comment. “In terms of the films? Yes, this has been the best ever. We had such a good selection of films, many from other festivals where they have won awards.”

There were many famous names from the Festival line-up who graced the red carpet. Take a look at our pictures below.

Before the main event, there were three awards handed out. First, the outstanding achievement award went to Anjali Patil who starred in Amit Masurkar’s Newton which was shown in this year’s LIFF line-up. Next came the audience award, a category which saw Cary Sawhney excitedly promising that “the audience vote will have a winner coming from left field”. The prize was taken by A Billion Colour Story. Read more about that here.

Last, but certainly not least, was the short film award which went to “Papa”, directed by Siddharth Chauhan. A bitter-sweet tale of one man’s life, trapped looking after his aged mother who firmly believes that a pigeon which arrived on the day her husband died is his reincarnated form. The man’s life, and indeed his love-life, is perpetually compromised by his sometimes angst-filled devotion to his mother. The story finishes with a beautifully nuanced twist that left the audience laughing and applauding.

The main event was Sexy Durga directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, an unsettling trip into the wilds of Kerala where a couple, who appear to be eloping, end up hitching a ride to get to the railway station. From such a simple premise comes a tense movie that endeavours to capture the terror of helplessness when the couple realise that the two men that have picked them up might mean them harm. The movie tries to sit on a knife-edge, leaving you wondering whether the banter is just playing or whether the situation might turn dangerous at any moment.

Certainly the audience seemed to be in rapt attention throughout the movie and at the end…well, I won’t spoil it for you, but if you’d like to read our full review of Sexy Durga then you can find it here. Afterwards there was a Q&A session, so if you’d like to know more about the film and the director’s thoughts while making it then look check out this article.

Although LIFF 2017 has now finished, if you feel that you missed out then don’t fret because the BFI Southbank still has a great selection of Indian films coming up over the next two months. The “India on Film” season has “Women Directors Making Waves” in July, which kicks off with “Luck by Chance” directed by Zoya Akhtar on the 9th July, and “The Turning Point: The Partition of 1947” in August, which finishes with a week’s run of “Hotel Salvation” directed by Shubhashish Bhutiani. Take the opportunity to catch a movie or two that you’d probably never get to see in your local multiplex, you won’t regret it.

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