Covering the best of Independent Indian Cinema, LIFF introduces us to an undiscovered slate of new talent.
This Thursday, the capital will grace the London Indian Film Festival for a fourth time. Although of a shorter duration, this year’s festival has not undergone quality, listing a promising array of films and masterclasses from the best of the independent Indian film movement.
Opening the festival and fresh from a successful run in Cannes is Monsoon Shootout – an action thriller that The Guardian describes as “Dirty Harry meets Sliding Doors”. Starring indie favourites Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee, the film is written and directed by Amit Kumar. Though this is Kumar’s first feature film, it’s worth noting he was also associate director to Asif Kapadia on The Warrior.
The week ahead gives rise to a number of acclaimed films from all over the subcontinent, with storylines that belie the ‘Bollywood’ standard. Amongst them are BA Pass, an erotic drama about a relationship between a young teenager and a seductive cougar, and the Kannadiga mystery Lucia, India’s first crowdfunded feature film. Of particular curiosity is Shahid – a courtroom drama based on the true story of a lawyer defending one of the men accused of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
The festival also offers two unmissable masterclasses over the weekend – the first with Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of only two Indian filmmakers who have ever won the BFI Sutherland Trophy (the other being Satyajit Ray), and the second with Irrfan Khan (The Life of Pi, Paan Singh Tomar) who will share his experiences in the British, Hollywood and Indian film industries. The masterclasses will be chaired by Derek Malcolm and Asif Kapadia respectively.
Finishing the week will be the explosive UK premiere of Bombay Talkies – a compilation of four films shot by some of India’s finest filmmakers – Karan Johar (Kuch Kuch Hota Hain), Dibaker Banerjee (Shanghai), Zoya Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milega Dobara) and Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur). If the organizers wanted to finish the festival in style, this was definitely the right route to take.
As the line between commercial and independent Indian cinema thins, here’s to hoping that the cutting-edge films the festival has chosen to show receive the viewership they deserve.
The London Indian Film Festival runs between 18-25 July. Tickets are available to purchase from the LIFF website. Stay tuned to The NRI for news, reviews and interviews.