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Seduction, travel, depression, insomnia and smuggling: Momtaz Begum-Hossain looks ahead to this summer's London Indian Film Festival

Posted: 29.06.13

To say I am excited about the London Indian Film Festival 2013 is an understatement. In the last couple of years I’ve seen more memorable, inspiring and visually draw-dropping films during the few days of this film festival then I’ve seen the rest of the time put together.

LIFF (as it’s known for short) is not a selection of random Bollywood movies or art house films favoured by world movie critics; each production is selected by real film fanatics who have a true appreciation for creativity and story telling.

Now in it’s fourth year LIFF, the biggest celebration of Asian cinema in Europe returns to the capital this summer with a programme of movies and masterclasses that will enrich and open the minds of everyone who attends.

The best way to approach the festival is to get out your diary, grab a pen and check out the LIFF website which gives full listings, timings and venues of every screening and mark out the ones you want to watch but be warned, you won’t want to make any other plans for 18 –25 July; there are movies every day of the week that deserve your undivided attention.

The festival stretches citywide, opening in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continuing at BFI Southbank, Cineworld cinemas, Shaftesbury Avenue, Wood Green, Wandsworth, Staples Corner, and the O2 in Royal Greenwich, the Peckamplex and ICA near the Pall Mall, traversing iconic sights and sounds of the city of London like a Monopoly game board. And if you can’t make it to the capital, for the first time, the festival will also tour, with some films screenings being repeated in Bradford and Glasgow later in the year.

The centrepiece to the festival is 'In conversation' on Saturday 20th July at the BFI Southbank, with actor Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi), one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema, talking to award winning director Asif Kapadia.

As well as films in the Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi languages, and the festival’s first Pakistani film Josh, in Urdu, there is also a rare 'Life in Pictures' Masterclass, by the great South Indian Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, on 19th July at BFI Southbank.

For those of you who haven’t got time to browse the LIFF website, I’ve given it a good read and selected some of the highlights that I recommend will be worth the watch:

Monshoot Shootout 

Getting the festival off to an explosive start, this is one of the first films made under the UK/India film co-production treaty. It follows a rookie cop in monsoon-lashed Mumbai who faces a life altering decision, whether to shoot, or not to shoot an escaping suspect. Edge of your seat stuff and it gets a red carpet opening.

B.A. Pass

The Graduate meets film noir in this sizzling tale of seduction and betrayal where a young man is seduced by a gorgeous cougar who leaves him entranced, that is until she farms him out to entertain her lady friends with dangerous consequences. The film’s steamy trailer drew millions of hits on YouTube and the eroticism of the film has drawn the ire of India’s moral police. Always good to have a bit of controversy.

The Bright Day 

An unfocused young man cannot get to grips with his humdrum middle class life, leaves behind his family and girlfriend and goes on a trip across India to find himself and what follows is a visual extravaganza taking in temples, rivers, palaces and deserts with a supporting cast of European backpackers and holy men. Perfect if you fancy a holiday to India but can’t afford one.

Life Is Good

A warm-hearted tale of the unlikely friendship between a lonely and depressed post office worker (Bollywood star Jackie Shroff) and a 6-year-old schoolgirl. The fact is has JS starring in it, means this film is ultimately a winner, but it’s a very different role where Jackie swaps his usual action for something a little more sensitive.

Lucia 

From the director of smash hit Lifeu Ishtene comes Lucia, heralding a new direction for Kannada cinema, being the industry's first crowd funded film. An usher at a decrepit cinema suffers from insomnia. His life changes when he starts getting weird and wonderful dreams but with a caveat. Set in the teeming young metropolis that is Bangalore, the film is a turbulent ride where the lines between dreams and reality are blurred to delirious effect. Please don't reveal the ending after you've watched the film. Prepare to be surprised, very surprised.

The Good Road 

A young boy from Mumbai separated from his parents, is befriended by a truck driver and his surly assistant who are on a perilous smuggling trip. Set against the backdrop of the stark beauty of one of India’s most isolated and dangerous locations, Kutch, this is one will be a pleasure to watch but painful when it comes to the storyline.

Tasher Desh 

After shocking the world with Gandu, Bengali director Q returns with this psychedelic take on Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s namesake. The soundtrack features Asian Dub Foundation, Susheela Raman, Sam Mills, Eric Truffaz, Moog Conspiracy and Anusheh – in other words this is the one all the trendy people will be at.

Bombay Talkies

2013 is the centenary of Indian Cinema and to mark it, four of India’s most influential film directors got together to direct a unique movie. A huge success at Cannes, Bombay Talkies directed by Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibaker Banerjee and Anurag Kashyup the film boldly tackles gay and cross-dressing themes alongside looking at different aspects of stardom and will be screened for the first time in the UK to close the festival.

For more information on the London Indian Film Festival visit www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

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