Cinema of India

Anupama Chopra Talks Jio Mami Upodcast

We got the chance to speak with Anupama Chopra, Festival Director, 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star India about why these movies and the festival is important, which movies you should watch out for and how they dealt with some of the issues that happened during last year’s festival.

Listen/download/stream the episode below

JIO MAMI VISION 2015

The Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is an inclusive movie feast. We showcase the latest cutting-edge, independent cinema – art house fare alongside genre movies from Bollywood and Hollywood and cult international movies. We offer the best of world cinema to the people of Mumbai and we offer the best of Indian cinema to the world. The festival is run by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image popularly known as MAMI. This is a space where we revel in the sheer pleasure of cinema, the joy it gives us and how much it enhances our lives. The goal is to nurture and ignite a passion for movies. We want Jio MAMI to be shorthand for excellence in cinema.

 

ABOUT JIO MAMI

Mumbai – the financial capital of India is also the epicentre of the Indian film industry. The city plays such a major role in production and dissemination of Indian films and television programmes that it is widely known by its acronym ‘Bollywood’. In 1997, a group of film industry stalwarts headed by late Hrishikesh Mukherjee founded the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) as a not-for-profit Trust. Their main objective was to organise an annual International Film Festival which the film industry and the country could be proud of. MAMI has been organising the festival for the last 16 years and aims to foster a climate of good cinema. MAMI engages people from all walks of life across the city and country who enjoy and love good cinema. It is Mumbai’s only film festival that is entirely created and run by film professionals and a group of members from corporate India. Appreciation of good cinema, stripped off all the limiting labels of art and commercial, can only come about through exposure to the best of films the world has to offer. The Festival is the first step in that direction.

 

In their Mission Statement in 1997, the MAMI Board of Trustees said, “We feel it is the need of the hour to disseminate and inculcate good cinema among Indian audiences. The only way to achieve this is to celebrate cinema by hosting an International Film Festival in Mumbai, India ‘s film and entertainment capital. MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) is committed to start Mumbai’s first independent international film festival organized by practicing film makers.”

 

For more information on MAMI and the upcoming 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival scheduled to be held from 29th October- 5th November 2015, do visit our MAMI Website, Twitter handle, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube as follows:

 

Website: www.mumbaifilmfestival.com #MAMI2015Twitter:/mumbaifilmfestFacebook: /mumbaifilmfestival Instagram: /mumbaifilmfestival YouTube: Mumbai Film Festival

Nirbashito Review LIFF 2015

Debutante director and lead actress Churni Ganguly’s semi-biographical take on controversial writer Taslima Nasrin is absolutely soul stirring. In Nirbashito (Banished), even though the protagonist has no name, and is always referred to as Lady, or Madam, the resemblance to Nasrin is unmistakable. The story circles around this controversial figure – a female writer who has caused a stir amongst the powers to be with her literary works that question the patriarchal society that is deeply rooted in religion. As a result, she has been deported from her residence in Kolkata, to the cold and dreary interiors of Sweden. Her exile away from home, and her struggle against the loneliness that comes to haunt her is what Nirbashito is all about.

On paper, that does sound like a very uncomfortable and miserable watch. But Churni Ganguly’s portrayal of “the Lady” turns it into an unforgettable and personal journey that makes for compelling drama. She conveys the complex layers of this real person effortlessly. The dark circles under her smokey eyes show the lethargy in her – the sort that you perhaps get after a strenuous long flight. In this case, she is tired of being dragged from port to port, of having no home to call her own, and with no clear sign of where it all ends. And the constant irritation of not being able to speak with someone in one’s own language or eat the food that one likes in a foreign land – her banishment punishes her every day in a new way. And yet, against all odds, she continues to channel her struggle and turn it into the most lyrical prose. Ganguly’s portrayal is absolutely note perfect.

And on the other side of the spectrum, are the ones who are handling “The Lady”s cat – Baaghini. Saswata Chatterjee (Kahaani, Bhooter Bhabishyat) plays the compassionate friend who is looking after the cat, and is also juggling his own daily drama – a pregnant wife who feels deprived, and the circus of bureaucracy. This parallel story line provides the much needed comedic relief in this otherwise bleak tale. Supported excellently by the ensemble cast that includes Kaushik Ganguly (Churni Ganguly’s husband in real life), Raima Sen, and Martin Wallstorm (Mr. Robot), Nirbashito received the National Award for the Best Bengali Film, and much deservingly so.

Nirbashito’s empty wide shots of nothingness conveys the deafening silence of loneliness, and leaves you feeling the pain that one goes through when freedom of choice, and speech are snatched away from you. Amongst all the human drama, it highlights one of the most burning topics of today. The Lady says to her friend, “It is a fight between the pen and the sword. And the sword always wins”. Truer words were never spoken.

Check out more of Sujoy’s work at OneKnighStand and Bollypop!

Follow Sujoy on Twitter: @9e3k

Nirbashito still has a screening on the 22nd of July at the London Indian Film Festival.

Head over to http://londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm for more info and tickets.

 

Screen Talk: Mani Ratnam – London Indian Film Festival 2015, BFI Southbank

Mani Ratnam is pretty much how I expected him to be – unpretentious, likeable and a man who doesn’t waste words. When he does speak, there was much to inspire and after the hour and bit talk, I am sure I was not the only who felt charged up to go out and make a film of my own.

With an audience that included Ratnam’s wife Suhasini (an accomplished actress in MalayalamTamilTelugu and Kannada language films) and ace cinematographer Rajiv Menon (who was sat next to me with his wife and Suhasini next to her), the talk was guided by Peter Webber (director of Girl With A Pearl Earring and all set to make his next venture in India) and held at the BFI Southbank which was the perfect place to host this afternoon event as part of the London Indian Film Festival 2015.

When asked about how he became a filmmaker, Ratnam described himself as a “disillusioned management consultant” who was passionate about cinema and wanted to see if he could make a career out of filmmaking. When Webber asked him if anyone had influenced his work, Ratnam mentioned Akira Kurosawa as a favourite but admitted he was generally inspired by anything he had read or seen (as indeed all creatives are).

There was also some good natured ribbing about songs in Indian cinema with Webber saying he admired Ratnam and Indian filmmakers for directing songs in their films. Ratnam explained how directing a song was a “liberating process” and was like making a mini film, with a story arc, choreography and sensibility all of its own. “Songs let you travel emotions in an abstract fashion” said Ratnam before joking that he felt sorry for Western cinema that does not have songs as part of its narrative.

Ratnam also spoke about his working relationship with A R Rehman who has scored the music for many of Ratnam’s films. Naming Bombay as his favourite Rehman soundtrack, Ratnam noted that Rehman was a very special composer who had a unique ability to find his own level in his music as well as achieving what had been asked of him when composing music and that the experience of working with him was a great one.

I was not surprised but interested by Ratnam’s revelation that he doesn’t really understand Hindi in the way he does Tamil. Ratnam went on to explain how he wrote in Tamil, then worked with a Hindi writer to translate the dialogue and then trusted his actors to enact their character properly as Ratnam felt he is unable to control nuances of word in Hindi as well as he would want to and for this reason preferred to work in Tamil.

Webber then took questions from the audience which ranged from what Ratnam does to make a set come alive (“have a good team and work with people better than you”), his inspiration for the strong female roles in his films (all based on the women he has met and his admiration for their amazing strength in character), his favourite director (“Guru Dutt”) and how he offered his first film to his wife but she refused it (“so I married her!” which delighted the audience). All too soon, time was up and Ratnam was presented the London Indian Film Festival icon of cinema award, the first ever recipient of the award to mark the conclusion of the talk.

My favourite anecdote came near the start, where Ratnam talked about how he saw his approach to film as “reinventing what is written on paper”. A simple sentiment that could easily be lost in the process of filmmaking, it struck me that this was exactly what Ratnam has done in each of his films and perhaps is instrumental in making him one of Indian cinema’s greatest filmmakers and a very worthy candidate for a truly fascinating screen talk.

Bhushan Kumar is a Hindi film and fashion obsessed being living and working in London.

Follow Bhushan on Twitter: @bogeyno2

Blog: http://bogeyno2.wordpress.com/

Vidhu Vinod Chopra Interview- Broken Horses

Sometimes a man can be so talented that facing him for a short chat can be intimidating. Writer- Producer- Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra is one of those men. He’s been involved with ground breaking cinema for a few decades and today he sat down with us to talk about his English venture Broken Horses.

Our Review of Broken Horses can be found here.

Broken Horses cast features – Vincent D’Onofrio (The Judge, FULL METAL JACKET, MEN IN BLACK), Anton Yelchin (LIKE CRAZY, STAR TREK, ALPHA DOG) and Chris Marquette (ALPHA DOG, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR). The cast includes popular Spanish actress, Maria Valverde (Exodus), Thomas Jane, and Sean Patrick Flanery.

 

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From the Press Release:

The legendary film-maker, who has always set a new benchmark for the Indian film fraternity and has made some of the most memorable movies that India has cherished like the Munnabhai series, 3 Idiots, Mission Kashmir, Parinda, among several others, has once again decided to reinvent the wheel. He has stepped out of his comfort zone and with Broken Horses he becomes the first Indian filmmaker to make a Hollywood Production – it is the first Hollywood film produced, directed and written by an Indian!

Set in the shadows of the US-Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty, and the futility of violence. The film has been co-written by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi (PK, 3 Idiots, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Mission Kashmir) and it based on an original story by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Broken Horses is in currently playing in selected theaters.

 

LIFF 2014 Top Picks The Upodcast team

One of the best UK Indian Film Festivals is upon us again from the 10th to 17th of July.

And since there are a ton of films on offer we roped in some old friends and new to help cover some of the exciting movies showcased.

Here are some of the ones we are really looking forward to and hope to watch/review for you.

Sujoy – @9e3k

SOLD

Opening a film festival has its own pros and cons. Doing the honours this year is SOLD. Directed by Jeffrey Brown, it stars Gillian Anderson amongst other known names from the Indian film industry. The synopsis leads us to believe that it is going to be a powerful movie with a heart-breaking story. It remains to be seen if it can deliver on its promise.L014_NUN_PR

HEMALKASA

Closing the festival is Samruddhi Porey’s Hemalkasa. Starring Marathi cinema’s finest – Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe – the cast itself should be reason enough to lure the audience into the cinema. Revolving around the story of rural development in Maharashtra, I hope Hemalkasa is able to pull the heartstrings of its audience.

Hank And Asha – As the title suggests, Hank And Asha is about the two of them. Judging by its recent Slamdance Audience Award could well be the indie romance movie that you should check out this year.

Barefoot to Goa – Director Praveen Morchhale’s festival darling finally finds its way to LIFF. Set between Mumbai and Goa, the story is a very conventional one that speaks of the bond between grandchildren and grandparents. It is quite inexplicable why this is one of the highlights of LIFF for me. Soon, I’ll let you know why.

Barefoot to Goa – Film Trailer with english Subtitle. from Praveen Morchhale on Vimeo.

Sulemaani Keeda

Everything about this movie screams PRETENTIOUS. When you throw in keywords such as suburban Mumbai underbelly, Tarkovsky, Bollywood – it just comes with a baggage of its own. That is also one of the key reasons why I look forward to this movie. And I wish to be completely corrected on my assumption.

Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya – The characters of Goopi and Bagha is not unknown to anyone who has grown up on Satyajit Ray’s cinema. The story of this mischievious duo, previously immortalised by the fantastic Tapen Chatterjee and Robi Ghosh, is now being adapted into a Hindi animated feature. I have great expectations from this version of the magical world of Goopi and Baagha’s adventure.

Sulemani Keeda_01

Ulidavaru Kandante

This movie’s promotional image has men with painted tigers on their face. And the synopsis speaks of the film’s homages to Sin City, Pulp Fiction, Agneepath, Rashomon. Two words – Must Watch, or could be one word – Oversell.

 

Qissa

Festival favourite Irrfan Khan stars in this period piece set during the Partition period. And Tilottama Shome stars too. The story could be a cross between Dil Bole Hadippa and Boys Don’t Cry. And I could be horribly wrong.

Apur Panchali: Not just Ray references, but a whole movie about the actor who acted as protagonist Apu in Pather Panchali. This stars Parambrata Chatterjee, and is directed by Kaushik Ganguly (Arekti Premer Golpo, Shabdo). Sounds like nectar for Ray lovers.

Qissa_01

 

Bhushan- @Bogeyno2

Qissa
Irfan Khan in anything is worth watching (Paan Singh Tomar,The Lunchbox) and Qissa should be no exception. With a flair for making even the most unpleasant of characters seem human (Saat Khoon Maaf anyone?) Khan looks certain to bring another dimension to Umber Singh in a complex role. Much like Khamosh Paani, films on partition tend to make for challenging yet compelling viewing and Qissa looks set to deliver the same.

QISSA – The Tale of a lonely Ghost – Trailer from Heimatfilm on Vimeo.

Million Dollar Arm
As Bollywood and Hollywood look for that elusive pan market breakout film, Million Dollar Arm strikes one as a film that will appeal to a universal audience without trying too hard (a key feature of all the films featured in the London Indian Film Festival). With an interesting cast headed by Jon Hamm and based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm on paper has all the trademarks of a sleeper hit in the making.

 

Asim- @asimburney 

Sold

I am expecting heartbreak from the opening movie of this year’s LIFF produced by Emma Thompson and starring Gillian Anderson, the movie is about “A girl risks everything for freedom after being trafficked from her mountain village in Nepal to a brothel in India.” Director Jeffrey Brown hasn’t directed many feature length movies and is mostly known for his work as a writer and TV director but the names attached and the sincerity to make a movie that has something important to say can not be denied. I will be bringing a box of tissues with me but do hope that we wont be starting the festival by exiting the theater bummed out.

But since there is a live Q&A with actress Gillian Anderson attending maybe I can sneak in some questions about Hannibal season 3 or what profound influence she had on a generation of men growing up and tuning into the X files every week.

Qissa:

Another female issue based film about “Umber Singh, a rural Sikh, dispossessed from his homeland by the Partition. He obsessively focuses on the ‘ideal’ of having a son and heir, but as his fourth daughter is born he hides the child’s true identity, she becomes the son of his dreams, but at a terrible cost.”

Irrfan Khan introduced last year’s Monsoon Shootout and seems to be a name that goes hand in hand with Indian Indie movies, always a thoughtful actor that brings quite a bit to the movies he chooses. A lot of times you don’t know the movies showing in festivals so you end up veering towards the names that are familiar to you even though they might not be the ones you would line up to watch on a regular Friday night.

Hank and Asha

A lighthearted breath of air after those first 2 issue based movies, Hank And Asha seems delightful. I saw the trailer for for the first time when it showed at TIFF last year and I knew I wanted to watch it but didn’t know how to. I’m really glad that this little modern day “You’ve Got Mail” is showing at LIFF. Here is the trailer that made me take notice.

Million Dollar Arm: 

Probably this years “biggest” movie with Disney producing, AR Rahman composing and Jon Hamm starring in this based on real life story, which feels like MoneyBall meets City Of Joy. The movie will be releasing in UK theaters august 29th so it’s quite cool to be able to catch this one before general audiences.

Anima State: 

The only Pakistani movie at the LIFF this year and it looks like quite a kinetic experience: A man with a bandage mask across his face goes on a shooting spree across a Pakistani city, gunning down random people. He soon realises that his actions have no consequences and nobody appears to be interested in his murderous deeds, and so he decides to go on live television with a view to committing suicide on air. And that’s when there is a huge twist in the plot.

Sounds a bit like The Man without a Past meets Network mixed in with a little bit of Falling Down. I missed last year’s Josh at the LIFF which got great reviews, and there seems to be a renaissance in Pakistani cinema which again being in the UK we don’t always get a chance to be a part of.

Anima State from Anima State on Vimeo.

 

These are some of our picks, for the full schedule and more trailers you can hear over to: http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/programme.htm

Let us know if you have seen any of the movies above or if you are looking forward to them in the comment sections below!

LIFF Review Monsoon Shootout

 

 

Monsoon Shootout was the perfect opening film to the wonderful yearly non-Bollywood Indian film Festival LIFF. Not only was Amit Kumar’s 10 years in the making debut still riding on it’s praise from Cannes, it was a movie exclusive enough that wasn’t available to UK audiences but also had the cachet of a well known name attached to most of it’s marketing in critical darling Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

 

We follow Adi (Vijay Varma) who starts his day with his mother’s advice that life is basically Goldilock’s porridge, to be eaten just the right way. Armed with a Ganesha round his neck and the realization that his supervising officer (Neeraj Kabi) has watched Denzel Washington’s Training Day one to many times, he is assigned to chase down the Shiva, the Ax killer (Nawazuddin), who has been extorting money from builders for an underground Slum Lord who is preparing his entry for the world wrestling federation old timers division.

Adi and Shiva come face to face under on a rainy night which sets us up for the 3-way split narrative where we see what can happen if Adi eats his porridge too hot, too cold or just right.

 

It is clear to see that director Amit Kumar has poured in his personal vision in every frame of the movie, the movie is gritty, dark supported by some wonderful performances both by the leads Vijay Varma and Nawazuddin as well as the supporting cast of Neeraj Kabi, Tannishtha Chatterjee and the little dude that was playing her son. Monsoon Shootout clearly wants to distance itself from any conventional Bollywood film by its subject matter, casting choices and narrative flow.

 

Unfortunately this is not Tomas Twyker’s Run Lola Run, which had the visuals to support its structure forcing the movie to move at a relentless pace and never get boring.  Monsoon Shootout has none of those visual flourishes and keeps it dire and gritty vision until the end, whilst still managing to cut away from any impactful gore. From the 2nd narrative possibility things start to slow down and the aversion to Bollywood conventions seem a bit forced. Like most Hindi Independent films it remains in cinematic adolescents, rebelling against its Bollywood lineage but not grown up enough to play with global filmi big boys who have done this before and better.

 

Since Amit Kumar has been working on this story for a decade this are things he could have mended if he hadn’t been as close to the story as he was. I also think he had no idea that Nawazuddin would break out to become the start he is now. A savvier director could have padded up his scenes but this didn’t seem the case in Monsoon Shootout, so we miss out some of the fire that we know Siddiqui can bring to the screen as in Kahaani or Gangs Of Wasseypur.

 

But these are small issues with an overall positive cinematic experience and a great opener to one of the most unique cinematic festivals in London, which we hope to be covering in the next few days.

@asimburney

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Monsoon Shootout, Bombay Talkies to bookend Fourth London INDIAN Film Festival

What an amazing line up that LIFF has in stall for London Audiences! Some of these movies you won’t be getting a chance to see in the UK anywhere else.

The London Indian Film Festival will be running from the 18th to the 25th of July this year.

Here is the full press release:

Amit Kumar’s trigger happy Monsoon Shootout will be the red carpet UK Premiere opening night film of the Fourth annual London INDIAN Film Festival (July 18-25), Together with O2. This film is a version of Sliding Doors meets a hyper-real cop thriller, which will have you on the edge of your seats. Closing the festival will be a special UK premiere of favourite Bombay Talkies with four magical stories by acclaimed directors Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap exploring 100 years of Indian cinema, studded with top independent and Bollywood stars. Both films had a triumphant reception at the recent Cannes Film Festival and special guests are expected to both screenings.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema and bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of India and the subcontinent today, in all its diversity. For the first time, the festival is going on tour to Bradford and Glasgow.

The festival will stretch citywide, 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, so there is a screening near you, traversing iconic sights and sounds of the city of London like a Monopoly game board.

The centrepiece ‘In conversation’ on Saturday 20th July at the BFI Southbank, will be with Actor Irrfan Khan, one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema, talking to  award winning director of Senna, Asif Kapadia. Khan’s memorable film roles include BAFTA winner, The Warrior and Oscar winners, Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi and Hollywood biggies like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Darjeeling Limited and The Namesake, and Bollywood hits Life In A Metro, Mumbai Meri Jaan, New York and Paan Singh Tomar.

As well as films in the Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi languages, and our first Pakistani film Josh, in Urdu, we will be having a rare ‘Life in Pictures’ Masterclass, by the great South Indian Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, on 19th July at BFI Southbank.

London Indian Film Festival also has films and events for a wide range of audiences and includes industry events at BAFTA, exploring UK and Indian subcontinent co-productions. The winner of the annual Satyajit Ray short film competition will be announced at the end of the festival at The Nehru Centre in Mayfair.

We are delighted to announce that our Major sponsors this year will include O2 International Sim, and the festival is also grant funded for the first time, by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director comments, “We are delighted that the festival is growing from strength to strength. If you want to find out more about South Asian cinema come and soak yourself in a week of magnificent films in London, or catch the festival tour in Bradford and Glasgow.”


For more information on the festival please visit: www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

Join us on social media: www.facebook.com/LondonIndianFilmFestival & www.twitter.com/LoveLIFF

London Indian Film Festival is supported by partners including: O2 International Sim, BFI, Satyajit Ray Foundation, Cineworld, Grange Hotels, Zee TV, BBC London and BBC Asian Network.

@asimburney

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The 4th London INDIAN Film Festival Launches in July

We’ve been fortunate enough to have been covering the London Indian Film Festival for the past couple of years and we just received exciting news that in July the festivities in London are starting again!

Previous years we chatted with Abhinay Deo and Imran Khan for Delhi Belly as well as Anurag Kashyap for Gangs Of Wasseypur!

Although the full program isn’t out yet. At least we can mark down our calendar with this press release:

Now Europe’s largest platform for Indian cinema London Indian Film Festival returns to the capital celebrating the exploding movement of Indian Independent cinema. The fourth annual festival will run from 18-25 July, bringing to UK audiences a rare selection of cutting-edge films from some of India’s hottest independent talents. Going way beyond Bollywood, the festival presents a kaleidoscope of new films that challenge, shock, generate debate and present a more realistic view of the Indian subcontinent today, in all its diversity.

The festival will stretch city wide, opening in the West End at the Cineworld Haymarket and continue at BFI Southbank, Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, Wood Green, Wandsworth, the O2 and ICA. For the second time the festival is also teaming up with the Tate Modern.

The London Indian Film Festival also has films and events for a wide range of audiences and includes industry events at BAFTA, exploring Indian/UK co-production and specially commissioned music and performance pieces.

A diverse range of World and UK Premieres will be screened including red carpet opening and closing nights of the hottest previews.

The latest confirmation is a centrepiece master class by actor Irrfan Khan, one of the very few Indians to straddle Hollywood, British and Indian cinema. Khan has come to world attention over the last 25 years with an impressive range of roles from under-dogs to action heroes, long distance runners and corporate megalomaniacs.
His memorable film roles include Oscar winners Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire and Salaam Bombay, BAFTA winner The Warrior, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Bollywood hits Maqbooland Paan Singh Tomar. The festival will be honouring this versatile actor with a dedicated evening at the BFI Southbank on Saturday 20th July.

The London Indian Film Festival’s full programme will be released on 18 June.

We are delighted to announce that our major sponsors this year will include O2 International Sim, and the festival is also grant supported for the first time with Lottery funding through the BFI’s Film Festival Fund.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director says:

“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. These films are accessible to everyone! 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, surely the world’s number one city of

culture, style and innovation”.

For more information on the festival please visit: www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk

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Review Kaakha Kaakha (and what should be fixed for its Hindi remake “Force”)

So this 2003 cop drama starring Surya, Jyotika and directed by Gautham Menon was available on Youtube (probably temporarily so check it out!) on some extremely shady channel but with some funtastic “paagal” subtitles. Having lamented the fact that there is no proper distribution system set up for South Indian movies, making it impossible to be completely up to date with new releases. I take any chance I get to catch up with this flamboyant film genre. Releasing in September in a Hindi remake directed by Nishikanth Kamat starring John Abraham and Genelia. We analyzed the trailer in an earlier post, but now check out our review of the original after the jump! Read More

Bonus Episode: Bollywood Special- The Art of the Item Number

This week we crack a main ingredient of Bollywood movies. The Item number! Asim is joined by our very own Bollywood Diva Kara also known as FilmiGirl and Paresh, one half of the music mix masters duo, The CurrySmugglers. Together we dissect what makes Bollywood Item Numbers such a unique phenomenon and what makes them really tasty, we pick our favorite tracks that made us throw our hard earned cash on screen and making it rain. We finish off with the Paresh’s “Memorial Picks of Filthiest Item Numbers”. Our mommy’s will be proud. Check out the full episode after the jump!

Read More

First look Disney’s first Bollywood: Zokkomon

The superhero bug has bitten the entire world and the Indian film industry is no different.
Except for the ridiculous Govinda- Kimi Katkar  Indian Superman scene on YouTube, the first real superhero that I can remember was Amitabh Bachan in the awesome Shahenshah. I remember there was a 3 week waiting period in our Karachi video rental store.
But I’ll let that memory back in the campy 80’s where it belongs.
We had the Hritik Roshan starrer Krrish which really wetted our appetite for a proper Bollywood superhero.(Good effort but doesn’t have originality or repeat value unless you actually think you can be Krrish when you grew up)
Shahrukh Khan, the supreme superstar of Bollywood (aka King Khan) is taking a swing on the genre with Ra.one a cutting edge mix up hi-tech and skin tight Lycra insanity. My worry is that Bollywood is making the first type of superhero movies  as we saw back in the 70’s -80’s with a supreme good guy as a heroe with no human flaws whilst the audience has now grown up, moved on and prefers a more  darker approach( more real?) eg The Dark Knight, The Watchmen and the forthcoming Kick Ass.

But in the meantime Disney have released the first images and trailer to Zokkomon, their foray into live action Bollywood production.
Their previous animated release was Roadside Romeo which to me it felt like an incoherent mish mash of deja-vu sequences with strained voice work of super couple said ali khan and Kareena kapoor. It was clear that the actors were not yet comfortable with the animated medium.

But now we have Zokkomon starring the revelation of Taare Zameen Par(masterpiece by Amir Khan about a child coming to terms with dyslexia- a strong recommendation from my end).
The costume design kinda reminds me of Red Mist in the kickass posters but to me that’s a minor detail and still I’m excited!

Red Mist-Kick Ass (I’m not crazy that i see a similarity right?)

let us know what you thought of the trailer in our comments section!

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FilmBlog: Review My Name Is Khan

My Name is Khan… and I’m not a terrorist.

A line spoken many times in this movie by Indian Superstar Shahrukh Khan, playing a good hearted Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, resonated with me in a very strong way. It’s a feeling that I have tried to utter many times but this movie manages to do so very simply.

I have been racking my brains on how to approach this review.

I could talk about it from a Muslim point of view, living in a country that is not my own and the struggles many of my similarly skin-toned brothers and sisters have to battle. Unfortunately I’m not that good of a Muslim so my arguments could be completely invalid and I don’t want to proclaim to be a victim when my own parents went through a lot worse in their days. I’m sure  Chris Rock has enough clips on Youtube to illustrate my point.

I could approach it from the angle of a Bollywood aficionada that can finally recommend a movie that is in general release thanks to Fox (apparently even the evil empire can do good sometimes…) and that the general audience can watch as maybe their first Masala experience (which Slum dog Millionaire wasn’t although it had brown hewed people in it dancing)

I could write as a critic of Hindi Cinema tearing down any inconsistency I was able to pick up on, be it the slowing of pace post-intermission, the horrible broad strokes that every non-Indian character is painted with or the lack of a riveting climax.

But whenever in doubt, I take a scattershot approach, try everything at once and fail horribly in the public eye. Yes, that is how I (Jelly-)rollz.

The route I choose to take is the one this movie tries to take… the human route, taking away all other details to bring things back to a core message, one that our protagonist is taught by his mother played wonderfully by yesteryear ( I do hate that word) actress Zareena Wahab.

There are good people in the world that do good deeds, and evil people that do evil ones. There is no further difference, be it religion, race, creed or culture.

I loved My Name is Khan for its message and intentions. It’s so good hearted it can be forgiven for its overt sentimentality, dramatic music and dialogue cue’s. This story of Rizwan Khan who has trouble connecting with the subtleties of day to day life (some may argue that this movie has trouble with cinematic subtleties but you did sign up to watch an Indian movie). Although he suffers from Aspergers he is a very bright and ingenious thinker, comparisons with Rain Man don’t hold up as he isn’t playing an idiot savant (plus his brother never kissed Mia Farrow). Forrest Gump would be a more apt comparison but only for the second half of the movie.

He takes his simple message to San Francisco moving in with his brother and Sister in Law. Where he meets and falls in love with Hairstylist/Single mother Mandira (played by the always delightful Kajol). The repercussions of 9/11 create a rift in their love story causing him to undertake the mission of going on a road trip to meet the president of the United States to tell him that one simple message… My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist. On his road his good heartedness affects a wave of people along the way leaving the audience a blubbering mess.

Shahrukh Khan is always entertaining; his charm (as recently seen on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) carries this picture to an emotional but underwhelming conclusion. It’s the little moment of charm that make you fall in love with Rizwan Khan and you end up completely buying into his quest. You feel for his character, the frustration he feels of not being to express his emotions and the love he feels for Mandira.

Overall the performances are great by most Indian actors. I could watch Kajol read the news and I would be glued to my screen, both Jimmy Shergill (playing the role of Rizwan’s frustrated younger brother, this would be a character you would have in any other movie but Jimmy carries it off because he is that damn good) and Sonia Jehan (almost makes me want to see Taj Mahal, her first big screen appearance… almost) are great in their small roles and I would have loved to see more of their struggles. Mostly the focus lies on Shahrukh character and his wonderfully understated approach on a subject matter that might not be appealing from the get go.

Cinematography by Ravi Chandran is beautiful, costumes, art direction and music are of vey high quality but I won’t be putting this album on repeat, it’s just not that kind of album.(special mention to Sajda by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, hear me rave about him in episode 5 of UPODCAST)

The few points that work less for me are:

All performances by non Indian actors, or they ran out of budget and got actors that aren’t of a much higher caliber than an average porn actor or Karan Johar was unable to direct them in the proper manner.

Listening to Kjo’s interviews it does seem he is hands on with most actors except Shahrukh Khan( as Khan doesn’t want to listen to Karan) so I think the failure does lie with his character design. Another example of this is Kajol’s motivation in the second half of sending Rizwan off on his quest, which seems too abrupt and contradictory to me even if the tragedy she goes through is very real.

The stand out scenes for me where the entire romantic track between Rizwan and Mandira from their meeting until the interval point. There chemistry is still the strongest romantic pairing in current Indian cinema.  The segments of Rizwan growing up in India and the confrontation he has with some of the more violent Muslims in the US mosque are riveting.

It’s great to see a moderate voice take on some of the people that are usually the more vocal (and maybe “insane”) part of the Muslim community. And the words he says are onspoken by many of us have had but have not been shown this way on screen.

What works less is the CGI both in the Georgia flood scenes as in the key moment Mandira and Rizwan fall in love. It made me think of a discussion going on about Titanic and how after AVATAR James Cameron claimed he would do the entire movie in CGI.Even the sunset on that famous kiss scene between Leo and Kate would be CGI. I think if he was able to do so we would have lost out a lot of the power and exactly this power is what’s missing in the scene where Mandira decides to marry Rizwan and bring him into her and her teenage son’s life.

The ending doesn’t work for me because of the casting. The portrait of the president is very jarring. And altough the president of the US is never named specifically, the movie just looses steam.

But I would urge you to seek out this movie as since it’s been distibuted by Fox it does have a wide release and it’ s an unbelievably fresh approach to issues that really do affect all of is.

The message of hope it carries, needs to be heard, needs to be listened to…

My Name is Burney, and I freakin’ loved this movie!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ruf0iEMT6M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKV954bHZJY

If you manage to catch My Name is Khan, let us know what you thought of it on feedback@upodcasting.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ruf0iEMT6M
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Favorite Bollywood Movies of 2009

I’ve been meaning to write a little bit about Bollywood (I know some people hate the word as they feel it’s derivative of the term Hollywood and the colonial name of the City of Mumbai– I like using it as it just sounds better then the Mumbai Film Industry)  movies in more details then our occasional review of the genre but I worry about the cultural gap.

Like Westerns or Kung Fu movies, Bollywood speaks a different language and dances to a very different beat and it’s hard to criticize them with the same standards as we do maintream movies. Bollywood movies are supposed to entertain one of the largest audiences and make lots of money!

It’s a prestigious and long standing independent industry, which unfortunately doesn’t receive the respect it deserves. I have been force fed these mass-appealing entertainment juggernauts since birth but they have now become a part of my being. I can watch all the Korean, French or American movies I want. But nothing feeds the craving for all out paisa vasool (AKA your money’s worth) entertainment as Bollywood does! It’s like coming home to your parents and having your favorite dish prepared for you, served up with some mango pickles and lassi.

2009 wasn’t a great year for Indian Cinema although SlumDog Millionaire win at the Oscars did put the spotlight on the potential. But instead of being able to cash out on the limelight the country went into a producer’s strike that lasted and as with the Writers’ Guild Strike in 2008 in the US, it had long lasting impact on release schedules, marketing budgets, star salaries but most importantly the weekly hit of singing, dancing and dishum dishum that “Jo(-winder) Public” craved for.

Another trend that affected the industry, as it effected everything else in the world, was the Global Economic meltdown. Since the past few years corporate houses (e.g. Reliance group, BIG, UTV) saw investment possibilities in funding movies for a quick buck, the gamble paid off and actors and producers started charging enormous amounts.

Salaries were going through the roof, quality was nowhere to be found but when the US market crashed it, it deflated a lot of egos.

2010 already is proving a good year with some very exciting releases lining up, special mentions to Kites (redited by Brett Ratner), My Name is Khan (Distributed by Fox) and Veer(awesome Troy like epic).

So these are my favorite Bollywood flicks of 2009, some of these I have reviewed in more detail on my badly maintained personal blog but I would suggest, stop reading, go to Amazon and order these flicks!

Wanted:

Riding on the wave of 80’s nostalgia this movie revisits the classic Masala genre meaning you get everything in small doses, action, romance, singing and dancing.

All of this goodness is covered with balls out action and harebrained scenario. If you can identify with the character you are in for a thrill ride where you are the one shooting people in the face (in slow motion with Pecs gleaming in sweat). Girls are pretty, villain is evil and the Hero is awesome!

What more can a man ask for? Click here for the trailer.

Ps this is not the Angelina Jolie movie based on the comic from Mark Millar

Ajab Ghazab ki Prem Kahani

I got to admit I had very low expectation of this movie and it completely took me by surprise.

It’s a very funny (I hate to use the term whacky adventure as it makes me think of Scooby doo) romantic, it’s harmless and very well shot and it just flies by. The main cast is hilarious and both actors pitch in a performance that you really don’t expect seeing their past efforts. Ranbir Kapoor is destined to be the next big thing in Bollywood and this was the first proof how his appeal is able to draw crowds.

And I even liked Katrina Kaif for her performance for once. Oh and the songs were pretty catchy too!

3 Idiots

The Biggest Box Office in all foreign markets. 3 Idiots talks about so many different things which I am trying not to spoil as I want to have an in depth review with the guys. This was my favorite movie of the year, it had me laughing and it even made me shed a tear or 2.

But most of all it changed the way I think and how I will raise my children ( if one day I have them or  whenever they are able to track me down but bounty hunting ain’t what it used to be).

All iz well people… all iz well…

Kaminey

We’ve had a whole episode on this movie so you can always go back and revisit episode 1!

I got one word though

DHANTENAAAAAA

Love Aaj Kal

Together with Ajab Prem Prem ki Ghazab this were my 2 romantic movie pics of the year.

Love Aaj Kal is the story of how love has evolved from our parents generation to us.

I have to admit I haven’t revisited the movie since but if you want a great date movie for Valentine’s day, this is it!

Dev D/ Luck By Chance

The 2 movies that illustrate the changing face idea of Indian cinema.

Dev D is a modern take on the classic novel which was given the grand treatment a couple of years ago starring superstar SRK. Anurag Kashyap (the director of Black Friday,which was amazing but ran into problem with censors) had a very different take, he took Dev from the beautifully lit gondolas of Bengal to the gutters of LSD laced nightmares. A Bit over trainspotting, a lot of Leaving Las Vegas but all accompanied by an AWESOME soundtrack. My second favorite movie of the year and the one I have probably revisited the most. This is not a family movie!

Luck By Chance I reviewed extensively on my Things on my bheja. Although at the time I was not aware this would still be my favorite movie at the end of the year but it still stand outs for me.

All of this to say, if you haven’t ever watched a Bollywood movie, you can pick out one of these pics and be ahead of the curve or you can share Martin’s opinion on bollywood movies also in our episode1 and agree that most Bollywood is shit! But that’s probably coz y’all can’t dance 🙂

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