The annual London Indian Film Festival is back for its eighth round of Indian and South Asian cinema. Over 20 films, shorts and documentaries will be screened across London between June 22 and 29 at the event that was founded by Cary Rajinder Sawhney in 2010.
British filmmaker Kavi Raz’s The Black Prince, starring Satinder Sartaaj and Shabana Azmi, will open the festival. Punjabi singer Sartaaj plays Duleep Singh, the last ruler of Punjab, and chronicles the time he spent in England under Queen Victoria’s care.
The festival covers a range of genres and subjects, including comedy, horror, thriller, the diaspora, religion and politics. Vishal Furia’s Marathi-language Lapachhapi explores female infanticide through the prism of horror. The film stars Pooja Sawant, Usha Naik and Vikram Gaikwad.
In Amit Masurkar’s black comedy Newton, Rajkummar Rao plays a clerk who is placed on election duty in troubled territory in Chhattisgarh. Produced by Drishyam Films, which has produced Masaan (2015) and Waiting (2015), Newton won the CICAE Art Cinema Prize (Forum Section) at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year.
Also on the list are Shubhasish Bhutiani’s Mukti Bhawan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Pinneyum, Haobam Paban Kumar’s Lady of the Lake, and Sanal K Sasidharan critically feted Sexy Durga, in which a young couple elopes and runs smack into danger. Sexy Durga won the Tiger award for Best Film at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.
Suman Ghosh’s documentary The Argumentative Indian is based on a conversation between Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen, his students and Cornell Economics Professor Kaushik Basu.
Among the documentaries is Rajiv Menon’s Overtone, an account of eminent percussionist Umayalpuram K Sivaraman.
Kannada cinema is represented by the Pawan Kumar production Ondu Motteya Kathe (Egghead). Directed by Raj B Shetty, the romantic comedy follows a 28-year-old Kannada professor who battles the insecurities arising out of his baldness.
Babylon Sisters is from Italy but has an Indian flavour. Women from various ethnicities join forces when their housing society is threatened with an eviction notice.
Nirmal Chander Dandriyal’s Zikr Us Parvarish is a biographical documentary about the acclaimed singer Begum Akhtar.
Entries from other South Asian countries include Gardaab from Pakistan and Seto Surya from Nepal. A loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Harune Massey’s Karachi-set Gardaab is about a gangster who falls in love with the daughter of a rival mob boss.
Set against the backdrop of post-civil war Nepal, Seto Surya tells the story of an anti-regime supporter who battles prejudices to give his father a funeral.
Apart from screenings, the festival will host panel discussions on LGBT issues and the impact of Brexit on South Asian film production. Pioneering queer filmmaker Pratibha Parmar will head the panel, and some of her earlier works, including Sari Red (1988) and Khush (1991), will be screened. The line-up includes a special screening of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar (2008).