London Indian Film Festival To Showcase In Conversations and Special Movies at this years Digital Indian Film Festival

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The Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival and Birmingham Indian Film Festival have joined forces to offer a spectacular showcase of films and “In Conversation” interviews by leading South Asian talent from 25th June to the 5th July.

This includes the UK Premieres of much awaited films including Bollywood Director Prakash Jha’s upward mobility schooling drama Pareeksha, the searing gangster feature Moothon and the ‘American Pie’ style comedy The MisEducation of Bindu, among others.

After being challenged by the global pandemic, the festival has morphed into an online offering with as the UK and Europe’s largest showcase of Indian Subcontinental cinema, showcasing the UK’s lockdown audiences a free programme, filled to the brim with great movies including rarely seen classics such as Kerala stalwart, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s BFI Sutherland Trophy winner Elippathayam (Rat-Trap), Bengali master, Buddhadeb Das Gupta’s epic award-winning tale Uttara (The Wrestlers) through to the visually ravishing widescreen vista of Sturla Gunnerson’s documentary Monsoon.

By complete contrast are new conversations with some of India’s hottest Bollywood talent including Ayushmann Khuranna who talks candidly about his rapid rise to fame from Vicky Donor to latest hits Article 15 which world premiered at the festival last year, through to the pan-Indian heroine of all seasons Vidya Balan, on June 28th, who discusses her new short film Natkhat and the importance of safeguarding women’s rights, while acclaimed character actor Adil Hussain gives rare insights into his craft.

The festival finishes with conversations by some of the world’s best loved Indian talent including Hollywood star Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Love Sonia) and Canadian director Deepa Mehta (Fire, Earth, Water) talking about their careers. Each of these unique conversations will be available online peppered throughout the festival giving our audience exclusive access to some A-list talent


Mixing it up further, the festival explores issues around Black Lives Matter and racism with a rare screening of the timeless, Mississippi Masala. Starring a young Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, Mira Nair’s classic film explores issues of race, class and privilege as an Indian woman born in Africa and raised in America, falls in love with a black African American man in rural Mississippi.

On Saturday 27th June 8pm to midnight UK time, the festival will present an exclusive UK premiere of Prakash Jha’s family film Pareeksha. Inspired by real events, the film starring Adil Hussain explores one teenager’s passion to study, in spite of being poor and the lengths a father will go, to seeing his son’s aspirations come true. This inspiring film highlights some of the gaping social inequalities facing many low income families around the developing world.

The acclaimed film Moothon directed by Kerala child actress & film star turned director Geetu Mohandas, is produced by Cannes darling Anurag Kashyap; a gritty, fast paced, slum gangster story with a surprising LGBTQ+ romance seeded within, exploring conflicting emotions of love and loss.

The MisEducation of Bindu directed by Prarthana Mohan is a coming of age comedy, starring Hollywood rising star Megan Suri, indie actor David Arquette and Priyanka Bose who also stars in Pareeksha. Tackling issues such as bullying, fitting in and identity, the film focuses on the peculiar and chaotic world of teenage misfits as the naïve Bindu arrives in an American high school and disastrously gets a crush on the wrong boy.

The Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition showcases the best of South Asian and Diaspora cinema from emerging filmmakers. This year’s competition consists of 8 films from countries including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The programme this year includes the UK premieres of TIFF hit ‘Darling’ in which a dreamy trans girl vies for the spotlight at an erotic dance theatre in Lahore, ‘Roqaia’, where a young girl finds herself in the middle of media frenzy after surviving a terrorist attack and ‘Migratory’, which was made during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The festival runs from 25th June to 5th July and some films are strictly time limited showings so please check the festival website for details. Feature and short films will only be available in the UK while the exclusive interviews will be viewable world-wide.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney MBE, Executive & Programming Director of the festival says, “We are delighted that we have been successfully able to move the festival into a digital offering during the UK lockdown and especially want to thank the generous film companies, actors and directors who have contributed their time and effort to help us achieve this high quality free site, which we aim to evolve into the future so that more people across the UK can view Indian indie cinema. As well as classic LIFF films, we have some amazing new UK premieres that will continue LIFF’s reputation for showcasing the best of South Asian cinema.”

Ben Luxford, Head of BFI Audiences says: “We are delighted to support LIFF’s ambitious plans to present the festival online and, by doing so, ensure that this year’s programme of South Asian cinema reaches an even wider audience.”

Alka Bagri, trustee of the Bagri Foundation says: “It is with great excitement that we celebrate the launch of a virtual festival for our sixth year as title sponsor for LIFF. In this unusual year, LIFF has responded swiftly and creatively to ensure a wide range of fantastic features, talks and interviews. Some are from the archives, with past hit films, whilst others are exciting new releases accessible for only a few hours. We congratulate LIFF on a stellar line-up!”

Festival Programme:

Sat 27 June | 20:00 – 00:00
Dir: Prakash Jha
Year: 2020 | Country: India | Runtime: 115 mins | Language: Hindi with English subtitles
Good Education is the greatest social leveller and Bucchi (Adil Hussain, Life Of Pi), the rickshaw puller knew that. As Bucchi takes the children from affluent homes to the famous private English school, he dreams of being able to give his son the same level of education. But his desire sets him on a dangerous path that could damage all he has built.
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The MisEducation of Bindu

Sat 04 July | Available all day
Dir: Prarthana Mohan
Year: 2019 | Country: USA | Runtime: 94 mins | Language: English
When a bullied Indian teen forges her mother’s signature to test out of high school, she discovers she must pay a test fee by the end of the day, leaving her no choice but to turn to the students she desperately wants to leave. Starring Megan Suri (The Brink), Priyanka Bose (Lion) and David Arquette (Scream), The MisEducation of Bindu is a refreshingly original laugh-out-loud coming of age story.
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Moothon (The Elder One)

Fri 26 June & Fri 03 July | 20:00 – 22:00
Dir: Geethu Mohandas
Year: 2019 | Country: India | Runtime: 110 mins | Language: Malayalam/Hindi with English subtitles
Tired of his mundane existence, fourteen-year-old Mulla sets out in search of his enigmatic long lost brother who was known to heal people through his magical Kuthuratheeb performances. Mulla’s relentless search leads him to Mumbai, where he falls in with a group of young kids who undertake petty crimes at the behest of a local crime boss.
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Natkhat (The Brat)

Sun 28 June | Available all day
Dir: Shaan Vyas
Year: 2020 | Country: India | Runtime: 33 mins | Language: Hindi with English subtitles
After learning about a ghastly act that her young son Sonu committed in school, doting mother Surekha decides that she won’t let him follow the same path as the other men in the family and through her bedtime stories, she teaches Sonu about equality. Vidya Balan stars in this timely and compelling drama.
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Breaking Barriers: The Casteless Collective

Sun 05 July | Available all day
Dir: Maja Meiners
Year: 2020 | Country: India/Germany |Runtime: 70 mins | Language: English & Tamil with English subtitles
The Casteless Collective is a protest music band from Chennai playing an exciting mix of folk music and Gaana art coming from North Chennai’s slum area combined with modern musical styles of rap and rock. Maja Meiners follows the band as they perform across India and use their platform and music to address issues of caste, patriarchy and homophobia.
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Mississippi Masala

Thu 02 July | Available all day
Dir: Mira Nair
Year: 1991 | Country | USA/UK | Runtime: 118 mins | Language: English
After Mina’s Indian family is forced out of Uganda by Idi Amin, they relocate to Mississippi to start a new life. Mina’s family want her to marry an Indian guy but she falls for Demitrius (Denzel Washington), a handsome young black man. Their relationship struggles to get off the ground as tensions rise between the two families. Mira Nair’s dazzling romance deftly explores issues of love, race, class and privilege, which are still pertinent today.
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One Crazy Thing

Sun 28 June | Available all day
Dir: Amit Gupta
Year: 2015 | Country: UK | Runtime: 90 mins | Language: English
This delightful charmer follows Jay, a former daytime TV star who is haunted by the sex tape that destroyed his life. As he cowers in obscurity managing his family’s Indian restaurant, he meets his dream girl Hannah, a beautiful American music student who hates modern life, and above all, dishonesty. Jay must now confront the errors of his past, rather than hiding from his future. Filled with warmth, music and delicious Indian food, the film is also a celebration of modern London in all her glory.
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Flying with One Wing (Thani Thatuwen Piyabanna)

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Asoka Handagama
Year: 2003 | Country: Sri Lanka | Runtime: 81 mins | Language: Sinhala with English subtitles
Winner of the Best Asian Film at Tokyo International Film Festival, this audacious drama tells the tale of a woman who decides to pass as a man in order to avoid the gender discrimination prevalent in society.
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Song of Lahore

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy & Andy Schocken
Year: 2015 | Country: Pakistan/ USA | Runtime: 82 mins | Language: English/Punjabi/Urdu with English subtitles
Double oscar winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary follows several Pakistani musicians, and asks if there is still room for them in a society roiled by conflict. Featuring the music of the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
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Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Shabnam Sukhdev
Year: 2014 | Country: India | Runtime: 90 mins | Language: English/Hindi with English subtitles
Shabnam Sukhdev brilliantly uses personal memories, archival audio recordings and old photographs and clips to construct a portrait of her late father and legendary filmmaker Sukhdev Singh Sandhu.
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Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Strula Gunnarson
Year: 2015 | Country: Canada | Runtime: 108 mins | Language: English/Malayalam/Assamese/Marathi/Hindi with English subtitles
A stunning journey into the terrain where nature, science, belief and wonder converge in one of the most astonishing and breathtaking landscapes on earth. Monsoon is a film that captures the timelessness and rich human drama of our engagement with the natural world.
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Hank and Asha

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: James E. Duff
Year: 2013 | Country: USA | Runtime: 73 mins | Language: English
An Indian student in Prague and a lonely New Yorker correspond online through video letters. James E. Duff’s debut feature is a beautiful and tender love story about aching for human connection in a hyper-connected world.
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Rat-Trap (Elippathayam)

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Year: 1982 | India | Runtime: 121 mins | Language: Malayalam with English subtitles
Set against the backdrop of a crumbling mansion, a family struggle as the feudal way of life they are accustomed to becomes unviable in Kerala in this milestone of Indian cinema.
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The Wrestlers (Uttara)

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Year: 2000 | Country: India | Runtime: 99 mins | Language: Bengali with English subtitles
Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s seminal film tells the story of two railway signal men whose passion for wrestling and relationship are put to the test when one of them gets married
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Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Tareque Masud
Year: 2010 | Country: Bangladesh | Runtime: 90 mins | Language: Bangla with English subtitles
Tareque Masud’s final feature film explores how unemployment, disenfranchisement and a hopeless future can draw young men towards radicalisation.
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Ship of Theseus

Available from Thu 19 June
Dir: Anand Gandhi
Year: 2012 | Country: India | Runtime: 149 mins | Language: Hindi/English/Arabic/Swedish with English subtitles
A sweeping epic exploring questions of identity, justice and beauty through an experimental photographer, an ailing monk and a young stockbroker, Ship of Theseus has been hailed “as the most significant film to come out of India in a very long time”


Dir: Diana Saqeb Jamal
Year: 2019 | Country: Afghanistan/Bangladesh | Runtime: 8 mins | Language: Persian with English subtitles
After surviving a terrorist attack, twelve-year-old Roqaia finds herself in a media frenzy as she deals with the the trauma all by herself

Dir: Saim Sadiq
Year: 2019 | Country: Pakistan/USA | Runtime: 15 mins | Language: Urdu with English subtitles
As a new show is introduced to an erotic dance theatre in Lahore, a dreamy trans woman desperately seeks to become a star and a naive young boy falls in love

At Home But Not At Home
Dir: Suneil Sanzigiri
Year: 2019 | Country: India/USA | Runtime: 10 mins | Language: Hindi/English with English subtitles
Sanzgiri’s father was 18 when India ousted the last remaining Portuguese colonists from Goa in 1961. Sanzgiri utilises various modes of seeing at a distance to question identity, the construction of memory and anti-colonial solidarity across continents.

Dir: Sudarshan Suresh
Year: 2019 | Country: India/USA | Runtime: 17 mins | Language: Hindi with English subtitles
A young couple try to steal some private moments in a very public place until the “moral” police show up.

Dir: Aarun Falura
Year: 2020 | Country: India | Runtime: 10 mins | Language: Hindi with English subtitles
A middle-aged man takes his weekly pilgrimage to his favourite barbershop in search of a moment of happiness

The Song We Sang
Dir: Aarti Neharsh
Year: 2019 | Country: India | Runtime: 20 mins | Language – Hindi/English with English subtitles
Romance begins to blossom for Krishna and Alia as they roam the festival streets of Ahmedabad

Dir: Amithaba Chaterjee
Year: 2020 | Country: India | Runtime: 7 mins | Language: Bengali with English subtitles
A conversation about love and loneliness between a man and a woman on a stormy night during the Covid-19 lockdown

Window (Khidki)
Dir: Dhawal Khadakia
Year: 2019 | Country: India | Runtime: 20 mins | Language – Hindi with English subtitles
When ten-year-old Vani loses two of her teeth in an accident her family comes together to save money for dental implants before school restarts.

Watch the Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition on ONLY available to viewers in the UK

Be sure to check this special and amazing digital film festival out!

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