London Indian Film Festival Back to Showcase Outstanding Thought-provoking films and Guests in a special hybrid festival

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The esteemed London Indian Film Festival is ready to entertain, inspire and make people think with their special line-up of films, and guests this June. Titled To India With Love, this year the festival will be presented in a special hybrid format!

In a challenging year for India and South Asia, the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and its sister festivals in Birmingham and Manchester will be a love letter to the homelands, continuing to premiere the very best of new indie films from the Indian subcontinent and diaspora, from 17th June to 4th July 2021. As always it goes Beyond Bollywood!

Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE says: “Last year we grew our audiences quite substantially by going online and UK-wide. With the UK scene improving, we are delighted to not only offer a strong high definition online experience on, but to also welcome our audiences back to the big screen in 3 major UK cities, at some of their finest cinemas. We will be showcasing the unstoppable force that is India’s rich and diverse filmmaking, and of course, the festival will be helping to highlight and support Covid charities working in South Asia. In this year when ‘Britishness’ is being re-defined, we offer our ‘Great British Asians’ strand which will celebrate British Asian filmmakers and throw a spotlight on exciting emerging talents”.

Supported by the British Film Institute (BFI) using funds from the National Lottery, this will include the festival’s Opening Night UK Gala Premiere of W.O.M.B. (Women of My Billion), an inspirational feature documentary telling of one woman, Srishti Bakshi, who walks the entire length of India (nearly 4,000 kms), over 240 days to explore the experiences of other women in its billion-plus population. Another highlight of the festival is our special focus on British Asian filmmakers and their continued contribution to British cinema’s success, while often depicting realistic stories of British Asian immigrant experience.

This year’s highlights include on stage Special In Conversations with The Times 50 greatest British screenwriters Hanif Kureshi (My Beautiful Laundrette), Oscar and BAFTA-winning director Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy, The Warrior) at BFI Southbank, legendary director Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji On The Beach,), alongside the 20th anniversary of the making of her Bend It Like Beckham, and British change-maker feminist filmmaker Pratibha Parmar (The Colour of Britain, Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth) at the Barbican. The festival also celebrates epochal Indian heroes with the premiere of feature doc Ahimsa: Gandhi The Power of the Powerless and celebrates India’s greatest director Satyajit Ray on his 100th birth anniversary plus In Conversation events online with Bollywood hitmaker Karan Johar, pan Indian actress Shruti Haasan and young achiever, Janhvi Kapoor.

One of Ray’s greatest actors, the late Soumitra Chatterjee is also profiled in the premiere of Abhijaan, while light-hearted moments are brought with the premieres of Bengali drama Searching For Happiness and black comedy Ashes On A Road Trip. The Tiger Award winner at the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Koozhangal (Pebbles) in Tamil, makes its UK debut at the cinema, as does Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Kayattam (A’hr) in Malayalam, starring one of South India’s most decorated actresses, Manju Warrier. Iram Parveen Bilal’s Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award nominee at South By Southwest in 2020, I’ll Meet You There, examines the immigrant life of a Pakistani American family in Chicago, USA.

The Festival’s new strand dedicated to ecology-related films, called ‘Save The Planet’, brings stirring features that in different ways reflect lives affected by deforestation and rising sea levels, and how people are meeting the challenge. As Bangladesh marks the 50th anniversary of its independence, LIFF celebrates the country’s giant strides in global cinema with special screenings of the lyrical The Salt in Our Waters. Films are in languages like Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, Urdu, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati et al, all with English subtitles. All “In Conversation” events are in English, both on stage and at

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Wide Audiences at the BFI, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the festival again this year. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re able to help bring this exciting programme to cinemas and households across the UK. The focus on British Asian filmmakers this year is a particular highlight.” The National Lottery raises £30 million each week for good causes across the UK.

Title Sponsor, Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “It has been a difficult year for many these past 12 months, and we are pleased to support a little escape for you via LIFF’s hybrid festival this year. Our seventh year as title sponsor showcases classic films and Q&As, as well as a range of UK premieres from some top British Asian and South Asian talent. Whether you attend in person, or watch from the comfort of your sofa, we hope you feel as excited as we are to see fresh faces and legendary stories from across Asian cinema!”

Opening Night

WOMB (Women of My Billion)
Dir: Ajitesh Sharma
102 mins | 2020 | India
English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu with English subtitles
A monumental documentary about a young woman who walks across India and tells the remarkable stories of the women she meets.
In cinema Q&A with Srishti Bakshi
Thursday 17th June, 17:20, BFI Southbank Tuesday 22nd June, 18:15, Ciné Lumière Thursday 24th June, 18:30, Everyman Manchester St John’s
Friday 25th June, 19:00, MAC Birmingham

Closing Night

Dir: Alex Pillai
With: Mina Anwar, Kulvinder Ghir, Roshan Seth, Meera Syal.
75 mins | 1997 | UK
Young Hindu girl, living in Lancashire, flees to London to escape the wrath of her father after her romance with a Muslim boy has come out. There she discovers what it means to be free.
In cinema Q&A with Alex Pilai + cast and crew expected.
Friday 2nd July, 18:30, Ciné Lumière Saturday 26th June, 18:30, Everyman Manchester St. John’s Sunday 4th July, 15:00, MAC Birmingham

Special Guests In Conversation

In Conversation With Hanif Kureishi

Friday 18th June, 20:20, BFI Southbank
One of Britain’s best-known screenwriters, Hanif Kureshi CBE is of mixed Pakistani and English origin. He earned his degree in Philosophy at King’s College London. He went on to write plays for the Hampstead Theatre, and by the age of 18, was with the Royal Court. He wrote My Beautiful Laundrette in 1985, a screenplay about a gay Pakistani-British boy growing up in 1980s London for a cult film directed by Stephen Frears, which won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Original screenplay. Kureishi’s drama The Mother was adapted into a movie by Roger Michell, which won a joint First Prize in the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes Film Festival. The television miniseries, based on the novel The Buddha of Suburbia, and the film My Son the Fanatic based on his own short story of the same title garnered him recognition as an astute storyteller. See him in a live Q&A on stage at the BFI Southbank, with the screening of My Beautiful Laundrette.

In Conversation With Asif Kapadia

Director Asif Kapadia, editor Chris King producer Paul Martin pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening for ‘Diego Maradona’ in London, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Saturday 19th June, 20:10, BFI Southbank
Oscar, Grammy Award, BAFTA-winning British filmmaker Asif Kapadia is one of the first British Asians to make huge waves in the world of cinema. His first feature film The Warrior was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning two, including Outstanding British Film of the Year. The Warrior was the first international role for the late, great Irrfan Khan. Kapadia won accolades for his trilogy of documentaries Senna, Amy & Diego Maradona, showing an uncanny ability to take archive footage and tell compelling cinematic stories about key figures and the price of fame. Kapadia directed episodes of the series Mindhunter for David Fincher & Netflix, he executive produced the music series 1971: ‘The year that music changed everything’ and he co-directed & executive produced the series The Me You Can’t See with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry focusing on mental health and well being, both for AppleTV+. Watch him take a deep dive into his career on stage at the BFI Southbank, with acclaimed film critic Hanna Ines Flint.

In Conversation With Gurinder Chadha

Saturday 25th June, 20:45, Rooftop East Stratford
Celebrating the iconic British BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated film Bend It Like Beckham at the 20th anniversary of its being in production, British Punjabi director Gurinder Chadha OBE, returns to the Festival to introduce this film at a unique open-air screening at Roof East Stratford. Best known for her films like the BAFTA-nominated Bhaji on the Beach, Bride and Prejudice, Viceroy’s House, and Blinded by the Light, Kenya born Chadha started her media career in radio, and then TV as a BBC news reporter, going on to direct award-winning documentaries for the British Film Institute, BBC and Channel Four. Empowered by vibrant British Bhangra music, she created a seminal documentary on British Asian identity, entitled I’m British, But… Gurinder is a patron of Women in Film and TV UK and has been part of many firsts for a British Asian woman in cinema. She has collaborated numerous times with the double Oscar and double Grammy winner, AR Rahman, for the music that has adorned her films. In conversation with BBC presenters Sunny & Shay Grewal.

In Conversation With Karan Johar

Online at
The son of Bollywood producer Yash Johar of Dharma Productions, Karan Johar followed in his father’s illustrious footsteps without missing a beat, ably aided by his mother, Hiroo Johar. Starting his career as an actor, he went on to create what is seen as the epitome of Bollywood cinema, working with lavish opulent sets, and working with the biggest names in the business. His foray into cinema came via his role as an assistant director on cousin Aditya Chopra’s super hit film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, where he formed his close working relationship with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, creating his directorial debut, the multiple award-winning Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. His work with Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan followed to great success. His unique talent has resulted in his career expanding in cinema and also a large audience following in television. He speaks to Girls On Film and BBC’s Anna Smith about his incredible career, on

In Conversation With Shruti Haasan

Online at
Pan Indian actress and musician Shruti Haasan, was born to actors Kamal Haasan and Sarika Thakur, living her life around set visits, cameos, and ultimately a career in cinema. From acting in the acclaimed film exploring Gandhian principles, Hey Ram, as a child, to composing the score for Unnaipol Oruvan (Tamil remake of the Hindi film A Wednesday) to making her mark in films like 3 and D-Day, she has won Filmfare, IIFA and SIIMA awards for her silver screen appearances. Her foray into Hollywood came by way of the series of the action drama series Treadstone. Her work as a playback singer in Indian cinema began with her first song aged six in Thevar Magan alongside thespian Sivaji Ganesan, by the legend Ilaiyaraaja. She discusses her career trajectory with BBC broadcaster and film critic Ashanti Omkar, in a candid In Conversation event on

In Conversation With Janhvi Kapoor

Online at
Born to the late legendary pan Indian actress Sridevi and Bollywood producer Boney Kapoor, Janhvi Kapoor has made her mark on Hindi cinema since her first foray onto the cinematic screen in 2018 with Dhadak. She took her early training at the popular Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in California. She went on to win accolades for her role in the Zoya Akhtar directed Story 1 segment as part of the Netflix anthology, Ghost Stories. Her titular role in Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl went on to win plaudits for her understated performance and physical transformation, playing one of India’s first female air force officers. An actress for the modern age, with many films in the streaming sphere, Kapoor discusses her short but steady journey in cinema, with film critic Mike McCahill of The Guardian, Reader’s Digest and The Telegraph on

In Conversation With Pam Cullen

Pam Cullen at 97 years young, is a true legend, with an incredible career spanning over fifty years in the Indian film industry. In this very rare, frank and at times witty Interview Pam talks to author and producer Nasreen Munni Kabir about her unique life and work. It starts in the 1940s, rebelling against her conservative English parents to join the ‘Free India’ movement and becoming involved with the nascent Indian High Commission and then the early National Film Development Corporation of India. Pam recounts her career experiences with the Indian independence leader V.K.Krishna Menon, setting up the UK’s first Indian film screening after WW2. She later worked with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and befriended the shy young Satyajit Ray on his early visits to London, rubbing shoulders with such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin and managing Raj Kapoor’s press schedule in the golden age of cinema at

In Conversation With Avtar Panesar

Behind the surface glamour of the film industry are the key industry professionals who dynamically make it all happen. We are delighted to celebrate and talk to one such British hero Avtar Panesar, who over the last thirty years has been a pioneer of the UK Asian Bollywood film & music scene and has gone on to be a leading light in one of India’s biggest hit movie studios – Yash Raj Films. Avtar talks about his childhood, arrival from Punjab to London’s Southall in the 1970s and how his father’s strong immigrant work ethic inspired him. Starting as a stockroom assistant with EMI India he climbed to management within the company promoting Indian music. This soon took him into Hindi commercial cinema, where as a young man, his hard work and diligence caught the attention of movie moguls Yash and Aditya Chopra, who handpicked him to execute their vision to set up the company’s international operations. As success followed, Avtar then ascended to greater heights moving back to India at Yash Raj Studios, Mumbai to be dynamically involved with this legendary company’s global expansion which now celebrates 50 years of movie-making, with Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE, at

Koozhangal (Pebbles)
Dir: P.S Vinothraj
With: Chellapandi, Karuththadaiyaan
75 mins | 2021 | India
Tamil with English subtitles
P.S Vinothraj’s award winning debut feature film is a stunning and spectacular tale of a troubled father and son relationship
Online Q&A with P.S.Vinothraj.
Wednesday 23rd June, 18:30, Ciné Lumière Wednesday 30th June, 20:00, Rich Mix

Searching for Happiness…

Dir: Suman Ghosh
With: Sudiptaa Chakraborty, Arindam Ghosh, Shahida Neera
63 mins | 2021 | India
Bengali with English subtitles
A sweet little girl’s search for happiness sends her on a journey through the crowded streets of Kolkata, where she meets other characters all in search of the same thing.
Tuesday 22nd June, 20:50, BFI Southbank Sunday 27th June, 12:00, MAC Birmingham

Kayattam (A’hr)

Dir: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
With: Manju Warrier, Gaurav Ravindran, Bhupendra Khurana
105 mins | 2020 | India
Malayalam with English subtitles
The latest film from Sanal Kumar Sasidharan is a mystical drama about a woman whose blossoming romance with a younger man garners the unwanted attention of other men.
Thursday 24th June, 18:00, BFI Southbank Tuesday 29th June, 18:30, Everyman Mailbox Birmingham

I’ll Meet You There

Dir: Iram Parveen Bilal
With: Faran Tahir, Nikita Tewani, Sheetal Sheth
90 mins | 2020 | USA
English, Urdu with English subtitles
A Muslim cop in Chicago, is forced to question where his loyalties truly lie when his orthodox, estranged father, Baba, unexpectedly visits from Pakistan.
Thursday 1st July, 20:30, Ciné Lumière Wednesday 30th June, 14:00, MAC Birmingham
Friday 2nd July, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

>Mara Paapa Superhero</i>

Dir: Dr. Darshan Ashwin Trivedi
With: Bhavya Sirohi, Abhinay Banker, Shraddha Dangar
120 mins | 2021 | India
Gujarati with English subtitles
Mara Paapa Superhero tells the story of a nine year old Gujarati girl’s struggle to convince the world that her father is a superhero.
Saturday 19th June, 18:00, Watermans Monday 28th June, 19:00, MAC Birmingham Saturday 3rd July, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]


Dir: Ananth Mahadevan
With: Akshaya Gaurav, Suresh Vishwakamra, Anil Nagarkar
101 mins | 2020 | India
Marathi with English subtitles
Based on dramatic true accounts, BitterSweet follows the heart-rending travails of a young woman sugarcane cutters fight for her rights.
Sunday 20th June, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

Sthalpuran (Chronicle of Space)

Dir: Akshay Indikar
With: Neel Deshmukh, Anushree Wani, Sonia Mahale
86 mins | 2020 | India
Marathi with English subtitles
Sthalpuran is a poignant and tender tale of an eight year old boy who seeks refuge from loneliness through his imagination and diary entries.
Wednesday 23rd June, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

WingMan (The Universal Irony of Love)
Dir: Anuj Gulati
With: Shashank Arora, Trimala Adhikari, Nakul Bhalla
85 mins | 2020 | India
Hindi with English subtitles
A young man who works as a matchmaker struggles to cope with his own broken heart after being abandoned by his long-term girlfriend.
Thursday 24th, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

Kastoori (The Musk)

Dir: Vinod Kamble
With: Samarth Sonawane, Shravan upalakar, Vaishali kendale
101 mins | 2019 | India
Hindi, Marathi with English subtitles
Based on real events, Kastoori tells the incredible story of a bright young Dalit boy who battles to overcome the daily prejudice he faces to gain an education.
Monday 28th June, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

Trijya – Radius

Dir: Akshay Indikar
With: Abhay Mahajan, Girish Kulkarni, Anjali Jogalekar
91 mins | 2019 | India
Marathi with English subtitles
A young Indian poet embarks on a journey of self-discovery trying to find a moment of calm in his rapidly changing world
Tuesday 29th June, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

Pop City

Dir: Rohit Mittal
With: Arjun Radhakrishnan, Naina Sareen, Preeti Sharma
80 mins | 2019 | India
Hindi with English subtitles
A coming of age story about an ambitious hitman who dreams of becoming the top dog in Mumbai. Friday 18th June, 18:00, online at [available for 24 hours]

Great British Asians
Bend it Like Beckham

Dir: Gurinder Chadha
With: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Anupam Kher
112 mins | 2002 | UK
English, Punjabi, Hindi with English subtitles
Gurinder Chadha’s seminal film follows the adventures of a young girl who dreams of playing football like her idol, David Beckham.
In cinema introduction by Director Gurinder Chadha and other special guests.
Friday 25th June, 20:45, Roof East Stratford

My Beautiful Laundrette

Dir: Stephen Frears
With: Daniel Day-Lewis, Gordon Warnecke, Syed Jaffrey
97 mins | 1985 | UK
English, Urdu with English subtitles
Set to the backdrop of poverty and racial tensions in London Stephen Frears’ seminal film follows the fortunes of Omar and Johnny who take over a rundown laundrette and transform it into a gaudy, neon lit palace.
Rare on-stage In Conversation with writer Hanif Kureshi. Friday 18th June, 20:20, BFI Southbank

The Warrior

Dir: Asif Kapadia
With: Irrfan Khan
86 mins | 2001 | UK
In feudal India, a warrior renounces his role as a local warlord’s enforcer for a life of peace, but soon becomes the prey in a murderous quest.
In Conversation on stage with Director Asif Kapadia
Saturday 19th June, 20:30, BFI Southbank

Classic Cinema


Dir: K Asif
With: Pritvhiraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar
197 mins | 1960 | India
Urdu with English subtitles
A spectacular historical drama, Mughal-E-Azam tells the tale of a timeless love affair between a Prince and a dancer. Sunday 27th June, 14:00, Ciné Lumière Saturday 3rd July, 19:00, Millenium Point Birmingham

Save The Planet
Nonajoler Kabbo (The Salt in our Waters)

Dir: Rezwan Shahriar Sumit
With: Fazlur Rahman Babu, Shatabdi Wadud, Titas Zia
106 mins | 2020 | Bangladesh, France
Bangla with English subtitles
A young artist relocates to coastal Bangladesh to practice his contemporary artistic career and find himself, but he soon learns that his modern ways rail against the local communities’ age-old customs and taboos. Sunday 27th June, 15:00, BFI Southbank Thursday 1st July, 20:30, Genesis Cinema Thursday 1st July, 19:00, MAC Birmingham

Kalira Atita (Yesterday’s Past)

Dir: Nila Madhab Panda
With: Pitabash Tripathy
83 mins | 2020 | India
Odia with English subtitles
Set against a backdrop of climate change, a powerful tale of one man’s struggle to reach his coastal family village while fighting with internal demons. Wednesday 30th June, 18:30, Ciné Lumière

Sisters of the Trees

Dir: Camila Menéndez, Lucas Peñafort
86 mins | 2018 | India, Argentina
Hindi, Merwari with English subtitles
A powerful and heartfelt documentary about a small village in Rajasthan that uses the act of planting trees as a symbol of their women’s newfound freedoms. Saturday 19th June, 18:00, online on [available for 24 hours]

Also on the schedule is the BSL Special Double Bill: For Each Other & Double Discrimination as well as other amazing strands that include Extra-Ordinary Lives, Too Desi Too Queer, New Brit-Asian Shorts and once again the special Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition. Find out what incredible films are being showcased in these special series at

Participating Cinemas: BFI Southbank, Barbican, Ciné Lumière, Genesis, Rich Mix, Bertha DocHouse, Watermans, Roof East Stratford, MAC Birmingham, Millennium Point Birmingham, Everyman Mailbox Birmingham and Everyman Manchester St John’s & stream UK wide at

So get ready for another incredible series of movies and In Conversations this June 17 to July 4th! You can find out all you need on

Stay tuned for more on!

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