As the London Indian Film Festival continues into its second week, we report on the highlights so far…
In the space of just a few days LIFF has premiered some of the best Indian independent film productions in the capital’s most prestigious venues – the BFI, ICA and Tate Modern.
Kicking off with a sold out showing of Anurag Kashyap’s action thriller Gangs of Wasseypur on June 20th, screenings have included several world and UK premieres including Tooting Broadway and Queens! Destiny of Dance.
Festival Director Cary Rajinder Sawney said: ‘We aren’t just showing Indian films for Indian audiences, but opening the door to the rich diversity of cinema in India today. Some of these films are kicking out the old stereotypes while the best filmmakers are starting to be recognised on the world stage, where they belong. It’s great to be premiering these cutting-edge new films in London, during a year when the city is celebrating its cultural richness.’
One of the biggest highlights was a screening of the controversial Bengali film Gandu at the BFI Southbank, followed by a special live performance by Gandu Circus, the band of acclaimed filmmaker and rapper Q, accompanied by Mercury nominated singer Susheela Raman with special guest guitarist Steve Chandra Savale from Asian Dub Foundation.
Gandu has been banned in India because of its explicit, adult scenes such as drug usage and full frontal sex, which Sawney claims makes UK film ‘Shame look tame’.
Performing as part of the unique, one-off event, singer Susheela said: ‘I got to know Q on my travels to India and was immediately struck by the intensity and fearlessness he has and which he brings to his work. I loved the idea of the film being about a rebel rock musician in Kolkata and the taboo-shredding edginess of the whole Gandu concept. He’s a visionary, in terms of pushing boundaries of Indian cinema and it’s a real bonus that he is a musician as well as the filmmaker. We were looking for an opportunity to perform together and the London Indian Film Festival provided just that.
Other stand-out screening include Runway, the last movie to have been made by Tareque Masud (best known for directing Clay Bird), before he tragically died in an accident last year.
His wife Catherine, pre-recorded an introduction to the film which was screened ahead of the showing. The film centres on a young boy who lives in the slums of the flight path under Dhaka airport exploring his identity in relation to his family and his religion. Beautifully shot, the film is an honest account of everyday life in a little known community.
Other popular screenings have included the charming Gattu about a young boy whose sole obsession is to become the best kite flier in his neighbourhood and Dekh Indian Circus, a political tale with a storyline that confronts the inequalities in Indian today.
Missed any of these films? Don’t worry!
The festival is still on and continues until July 3rd. This weekend also sees the World Premiere of Arjun Alison followed by a Q&A session with the movie’s director and director/presenter/actor Asad Shan.
To see the full listing, visit the LIFF website.
Event images by Sohail Anjum