Originally published in the Hindu Metroplus Bangalore edition on July 16th, 2013
It’s not just as simple as screening a bunch of Indian films in a posh London cinema, but the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) also knows it’s not all meant to be about glitz and glamour. The fourth annual edition (from July 18 to 25) of the week-long, cross-city film festival seems to always strike the right balance between art-oriented films, indie films and the big Bollywood releases. Of course, sometimes, the film does half the work for them. Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur 2 premiered in London a day before its release in India, and remains lauded for marrying aesthetic film-making and gripping story-telling with the typical Bollywood fare of drama and song.
At the 2013 edition, Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout and Bombay Talkies (directed in parts by Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Dibakar Bannerjee) will open and close LIFF, respectively. The choice is a nod towards the reception both films received at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Film screenings are dotted all across the city of London, including 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.
One of the main highlights of LIFF includes a conversation with Irrfan Khan, who has quickly risen to become a well-regarded Indian face in global cinema, participating in projects from the UK, US and Bollywood itself. Irrfan will be interviewed by Brit Indian documentary director Asif Kapadia, who last gained unanimous praise for depicting the racing career of Ayrton Senna in the documentary, Senna.
A spot of regional representation at LIFF comes from Pawan Kumar, whose crowd-funded Kannada film Lucia will be screened at the festival. The film, a drama set in Bangalore, breaks new ground for Kannada cinema. Lucia essays an usher in a run-down cinema who finds he is suffering from insomnia. Soon, he gets the most incredible, weird and wonderful dreams that have life-changing properties, that of course, come at a price. Apart from actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s second role being screened to London audiences (the first being Gangs of Wasseypur 2 and this year, he stars in Monsoon Shootout), Bengali director Q returns to LIFF as well, with Tasher Desh (The Land of Cards). Q’s seminal film Gandu was screened at LIFF 2012, where he also performed with his rap outfit Gandu Circus and jammed with singer Susheela Raman.
Festival director Carey Rajinder said in a statement, “It’s great to be working on the zeitgeist of new Indian cinema and we aren’t just showing Indian films for Indian audiences, but kicking open the door to the rich diversity of independent cinema emerging across the Indian subcontinent today. It’s also exciting to see some of the best of the filmmakers we have helped champion, now starting to be recognised on the world stage, where they belong. We are very proud to be showcasing these new films here, first, in London.” Other films screening at LIFF 2013 include B.A. Pass by Ajay Bahl, The Bright Day by Mohit Takalkar, Elippathayam by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, The Good Road by Gyan Correa, Josh by Iram Parveen Bilal, Life is Good by Ananth Mahadevan, Mapa by Elías León Siminiani, Pune 52 by Nikhil Mahajan, and Shahid by Hansal Mehta.
London Indian Film Festival takes place from July 18 to July 25 across London. For more details, log on to www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk