The ultimate celebration of South Asian cinema and women empowerment comes to London
The 17th Edition of the London Asian Film Festival is soon to be running across London from the 19th March to the 28th March and it is safe to say the line up looks incredible! Not only does the festival showcase independent films, it holds masterclasses, special screenings and debates across the course of dates. It is once again, organised by Tongues On Fire, an organisation that is well known for providing a showcase for female filmmakers. In addition to that theme, LAFF celebrates “The Power of Women” this year, with special guests such as Farah Khan, Nisha Pahuja and Afia Nathaniel, who are all well known and respected in the field.
The festival kicks off with Dukhtar, a thrilling story about a mother and her ten year old daughter attempting to escape the youngster's arranged marriage in the heart of rural, lawless Pakistan.
Watch Dukhtar on Thursday 19th March, 9pm - Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BY
This contrasts well with the closing night gala, Bhopal - A Prayer For Rain. This film is a deeply moving account of what would remain of the world if it was hit by its worst industrial disaster. The film then leads onto an intense journalistic mission of two men trying to expose an American industrial giant.
Watch Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain on Saturday 28th March, 3pm - Mayfair Hotel, Stratton Street, London, W1J 8LT
The World Before Her also sounds enthralling. The director Nisha Pahuja explores the injustice of India’s class system, as well as the on-going conflict between religion and secularism, in what has been described as a “provocative” study of an apparently “modern” India, without ever sitting on judgement.
Watch The World Before Her on Sunday 22nd March, 2pm - School Of Oriental & African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG
The drama Rang Rasiya explores a more personalised story of the famous Indian artist, Raja Ravi Varma. The director, Ketan Mehta combines Varma’s passion for his art, religious conflict, and his all consuming love for his muse Sugandha into one compelling piece.
Watch Rang Rasiya on Monday 23rd March, 6.15pm - The Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London, W1K 1HF
More personal tales include Tara, which exposes the deeply flawed and troubled positions of women in India. Based in a village not far from Mumbai, Tara fights for her freedom, but is instead faced with social backlash and isolation. The story sadly highlights an every day reality for women in India.
Watch Tara on Tuesday 24th March, 1pm - The Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London, W1K 1HF
Disability is also a huge issue which is explored in Shonali Bose’s, Margarita With A Straw. Based on a true story, a young punjabi girl, Laila suffers from cerebral palsy. Laila a successful student, wins a scholarship to New York University and moves to Manhattan. However, her love life proves to be far from simple, and sparks drama within her family.
Watch Margarita With A Straw on Wednesday 25th March, 6pm - Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Road, London, E1 4UJ
Vishal Bhardwaj, the director of Haider, also bravely tackles a taboo subject in his piece. The conflict within Kashmir is explored through a young boy, who is blackmailed by his mother to leave his town. When he returns, he finds his doctor father is abducted. His quest for answers leads him into the maelstrom of politics in one of the world's most beautiful, yet troubled regions.
Watch Haider on Friday 20th March, 8pm - Harrow Arts Centre, 171 Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, HA5 4EA
India’s history is explored further in Lokmanya - Ek Yog Purush. Om Raut brings to life the fascinating journey of the legendary Indian educator and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. From his humble beginnings to his several imprisonments, Tilak was to become a national hero who fearlessly fought for his beliefs.
Watch Lokmanya - Ek Yog Purush on Thursday 26th March, 6pm - The Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London, W1K 1HF
Last, but not least is the captivating story Zinda Bhaag. This film exposes the terrifying world of human trafficking and the life threatening risks people take to escape their own countries. Based in Pakistan, the directors Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi lay bare the often desperate reality of life in the country.
Watch Zinda Bhaag on Friday 27th March, 6pm - Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BY
The London Asian Film Festival really does offer something for everyone. One activity you'd be crazy to miss is the sing and dance along on with the one and only Farah Khan. The famous choreographer and filmmaker is set to lead fans in a theatre in Leicester Square in a sing and dance along on. Who said film lovers can’t be active? Budding dancers and film-makers will also have the opportunity to participate in directors and choreography masterclasses hosted by none other than Farah herself. There is also a special tribute night to the Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna during the festival. This involves all of his romantic hits being performed live on stage.
Choreography Masterclass with Farah Khan on Saturday 21st March, 3.30pm-5pm - Southbank Centre, Purcell Room, Belvedere Road, Southbank, London
Sing and Dance Along with Farah Khan on Saturday 21st March, 6.30pm-10.30pm - Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BY
Directors Masterclass with Farah Khan on Sunday 22nd March, 6pm-7.30pm - School of Oriental & African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG
Rajesh Khanna Musical Tribute Night on Saturday 28th March, 7pm-10pm - Mayfair Hotel, Stratton Street, London, W1J 8LT
Find out more on www.tonguesonfire.com