The film festival shattering stereotypes about Indian cinema
London’s Indian Film Festival showcases renowned filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap alongside newcomers like Pravesh Kumar
image Little English
words Louis Staples
We are living in the golden age of contemporary Indian filmmakers, which makes June’s London Indian Film Festival such an exciting moment. The festival, which runs from 23 June – 3 July at cinemas across London, including BFI Southbank, Barbican and Picturehouse Central, will feature world premieres of some of the most hotly-anticipated Indian films of the next 12 months. The festival was established in 2010 to showcase Indian independent film. The festival attracted media attention in its first year, premiering films such as Love Sex aur Dhokha by Dibakar Banerjee. Since then it has continued to dispel outdated stereotypes about kitschy Bollywood films, by celebrating the diverse, boundary-breaking filmmakers that India has to offer. It really feels like South Asian cinema could be about to have a “moment” in the western mainstream, just like we’ve seen Korean films such as Parasite prove can happen.
Accompanying the selection of high-impact films, there will be a selection of “in conversation” events, with actors Konkona Sen, Taapsee Pannu and Nandita Das.
Here are five of the most hotly-anticipated films coming to the London Indian Film Festival 2022.
Directed by Anurag Kashyap
India’s internationally best-known director, Anurag Kashyap, returns to the festival with this surreal Sliding Doors-style story. The film follows a young nurse (Taapsee Pannu), who moves in with her husband and daughter, next to an abandoned house. Searching through the new place they come across an old camcorder. Playing it during an electric storm the nurse, freakishly connects live to a little boy who lived in the house decades before, but died. In an attempt to stop the boy’s death she begs him not to go next door to the deserted house. He delays and this not only disrupts time, but her own life story with terrible consequences. There will be a live showing of this nail-biting film, followed by a Q&A, at BFI Southbank on June 23.
SUPERFAN: THE NAV BHATIA STORY
Directed by Amar Wala
This unique and uplifting documentary focuses on the life of the Toronto Raptors biggest fan, Nav Bhatia, and the massive impact he has had on the city’s basketball community. The film charts his journey to Canada as a low-income immigrant worker from India and how his relentless passion for life not only built his career, but quickly expanded into supporting a struggling team. Bhatia not only inspired the players, but inspired generations to get into the sport and has brought together the city’s black and South Asian communities. This is a film that is bound to leave everyone who sees it with a smile on their face. It will be shown at Picturehouse Central on Sunday July 3, followed by a Q&A with director Nav Bhatia and Producer Rinku Ghei.
Directed by Iman Zawahry
Set in Jackson Heights, New York, is a heartwarming comedy about a first generation immigrant Pakistani mother (Lilette Dubey), who is still recovering from her husband abandoning her and her daughters. She finds herself conflicted by the pressure to match her daughters, Maryam and Sam, with suitable Pakistani boys. The daughters are not impressed by the potential husbands who come to dinner at their home, so they decide to take matters into their own hands, with hilarious results. (This film is sort of like Bend It Like Beckham, except minus the football and plus the Big Apple).
Directed by Pravesh Kumar
Pravesh Kumar’s debut feature is a laugh-out-loud story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family in the pressure-cooker life of a terraced suburban home in West London. Newly-arrived from India, naive Simmy has come to marry the family’s eldest son, Raj, who shockingly does a runner, leaving Simmy locked in the house by her domineering mother-in-law. However, Simmy is smarter than she appears, and soon enlists the support of the family’s disgruntled in-laws, including a sugar crazed, diabetic grandpa and dangerous, but hot, brother in law, fresh out of jail. Together, they plan Simmy’s big escape.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN CALCUTTA
Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta
World premiered at Venice Film Festival, Once Upon A Time in Calcutta follows the story of Ela, a failed actress. She has recently lost her daughter, who was the only reason for Ela to stay with her husband. Ela faces various setbacks in her personal, professional and love life, but she doesn’t lose hope and sets out to find a new identity, love and independence in the booming streets of Calcutta. Helmed by beautifully nuanced performance from Sreelekha Mitra, the film captures the hustle and bustle of a city constantly in a state of flux.