Gillian Anderson

Sold Review Liff 2014

Sold_01The London Indian Film Festival started with the UK premier of Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, Oscar winning director for best short film (Molly’s Pilgrim -1985) and starring Niyar Saikia, a 13 year old girl Lakshmi who under the guise of a job in the city gets sold to a brothel where she is forced into prostitution. The movie is produces by Emma Thompson and based on a Patricia McCormick novel.

Sold isn’t just a movie but is tied up with a few charities and a social media campaign hoping to make an actual change to the problem of child trafficking globally.

The message of the movie is something we can’t turn a blind eye to so before I dig into the movie, do check out www.soldthemovie.com or search #TaughtNotTrafficked on twitter if you want to contribute.

The movie is a tough watch, but it needs to be, the topic of the movie is so bleak that although the full horror is never shown, the implications are enough to make you want to avert your gaze many times from the screen, even more so for the Niyar Saika’s expressive eyes and naturalistic performance and so much pain to what we’re watching.

She is aided by some wonderful supporting Indian actors, Tillotama Shome, Sushmita Mukherjee who plays the main madame’s at the brothel. Tillotama has really been knocking it out of the park in term of performances this year in both Sold and Qissa which both played at the LIFF. There are a host of actors of all ages who were wonderful, I especially liked Priyanka Bose who I had noticed earlier this year in Gulaab Gang and who in some ways is playing a similarly street savvy woman again.

 

The movie also has some fleeting appearances by Seema Biswas, Gillian Anderson and David Arquette who have pretty much have non-consequential roles to support the cause of the movie by appearing in random scenes that probably didn’t take a long shooting schedule but when working in indie’s having these names attached to a property, does help attract audience.

 

One of the aid workers who tries to get these girl out of these horrific situations is played by Parambrata Chatterjee pretty much reprising his role from Kahaani, charming out of town ladies with his smoothness but this time with added facial hair.

Sold is shot beautifully both in the open skies of Nepal to the seedy streets of Kolkata. The movie has heart and great intentions but unfortunately it might have worked better and had a greater impact if Jeffrey Dean had made this as a short film instead of a feature.

The editing in quite a few scenes is jarring and even the pacing seems off. There are fleeting moments that would need to be delved into a bit more like the men that visit these brothels or the people that manage or traffic girls and although I can understand that these are evil people, there were moments where there was doubt or regret on their faces that could have been explored.

As a topic it’s something that has been explored many times in Hindi cinema, in more (Baaghi, Sadak) and less glamorous (Chandni Bar) ways, it is interesting to see a western point of view and although the movie ends with a positive note, (and even a Great Escape style climax) any straight thinking person would understand that is the point in the movie where fantasy takes over and just how sad the reality of so many Laxmi’s really is.

 

For more information about Sold’s release date, go to www.soldthemovie.com

#TaughtNotTrafficked
http://www.childreach.org.uk/TaughtNotTrafficked/

London Indian Film Festival 2014 starts with Dhol Dhamaka!

It was the opening night of London Indian Film Festival 2014. Now in its 5th year, the festival has become a major platform to showcase the best of what the Indian indie cinema scene has to offer. Running from the 10th to the 17th of July this year, this year’s programme not only features entries from India, but also other countries of South Asia viz. Pakistan and Bangladesh.

It being the opening night at London’s Cineworld Haymarket, the venue was star studded to the brim with familiar celebrities walking the short but shiny red carpet. The celeb list is long, but I have to mention two big names.
Firstly, Gillian Anderson, promoting and supporting her movie – SOLD, which opened the festival this evening.
And secondly, veteran Indian actress Kamini Kaushal.
Gillian looks exactly like she does in The Fall / Hannibal. I know, that’s an obvious statement. But she does. I was lucky enough to be seated just a few rows behind her. Unfortunately selfies weren’t even a remote possibility because she was surrounded by black suit wearing, bald and stout guards. Quite the stereotype for a Hollywood biggie, but there you go. I wonder what kind of guards J-Law has.


Kamini Kaushal on the other hand, was seated not so far from us. She looks like she hasn’t aged a single day from the last time I saw her in a movie – perhaps in a Dadijee role in Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega.

The opening night movie of the festival was Academy Award winner, director Jeffrey Brown’s SOLD – based on a real stories, is about a girl called Lakshmi who falls prey to a child-trafficking gang, and is smuggled into Kolkata. It is expected that with a subject matter like this, the movie is going to be a hard watch. It did make me feel very uncomfortable in a few portions. And it made me wonder whether this was a good choice as the opening movie for the festival. Previous years have seen such movies such as Gangs of Wasseypur and Monsoon Shootout as the one’s opening LIFF. Having said that, it is a compelling movie which tells it tale with little dashes of humour, and yet doesn’t shy away from punching you in the gut with its harsh imagery. More on the movie will be discussed on the Upodcast review.
10526065_10152132078792191_766652475416624002_n(1)
And as the lights came up after the end credits, the hall errupted with a loud applause for the makers of this movie. There was a Q&A session held after the movie. And to say the least, it was the most awkward public situations I have ever witnessed. Not because of the topic of child trafficking being discussed. But because of the level of stupidity and banality of the questions that were being thrown at Jeffrey Brown and Gillian Anderson. The usual keywords of “vision”, “preparation”, “feel” were thrown around. Let’s just say, the Q&A pretty much drowned any impact the movie had.

And as we walked out of the auditorium, a good friend of mine introduced me to ace cinematographer and director – Santosh Sivan. And yes, I have been making plenty of noises about that on social networks. And on my way out, I did catch a glimpse of Amy Jackson looking very yellow (because she was wearing a yellow dress), and (if you remember) popstar Raageshwari (of Duniya fame), looking very white (because she was very pale, and wearing white and shimmery). There was some noise about an afterparty being held, but in the words of the great Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

That wraps up opening day of London Indian Film Festival for me. I am looking forward to a feast of good cinema, and you should be looking forward to a barrage of coverage of LIFF from us.

The London Indian Film Festival has screenings all over London until the 17th of July.

For more info head on over to http://www.londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk/

@9e3k

OneKnightStands Bollypop | 9E3K | @9E3K

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!

Sold Will open the 2014 London Indian FilmFestival

We look forward to the London Indian Film Festival and this year they seem to be bringing in the big (although maybe slighlty downbeat) guns for this year’s premiere.

Sold will have its red carpet European Premiere at the opening of the Fifth annual London INDIAN Film Festival (10 – 17 July). Based on the bestselling novel Sold by Patricia McCormick, the film is a powerful drama based on real life events, and tells of a young Nepali girl’s struggle for survival after being sold into prostitution in Kolkata, and an American photographer (Gillian Anderson), who, against the odds, attempts to rescue her and other young women. The X Files and The Fall star Gillian Anderson is expected to participate in a Q&A in London at the film’s opening night amongst other talent.

Director Jeffrey D. Brown, Executive Producer Emma Thompson and Producer Jane Charles have worked tirelessly to bring this film to the screen researching every aspect of the story in depth with charities which deal directly with child trafficking in India including: Apne Aap, New Light, Sanlaap, Prajwala and in Nepal: Maiti Nepal, Shakti Samhua and Childreach International. Emma Thompson, president of the The Helen Bamber Foundation, works with survivors in London which is why she is informed on this issue and cares deeply about it.

The film is a collaboration between US and Indian production teams and includes supporting cast David Arquette (Conception) and Indian actors Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen), Parambrata Chatterjee (Apur Panchali), Tillotama Shome (Monsoon Wedding) and Susmita Mukherjee (Dostana). Debutante Niyar Saikia plays the central role of Lakshmi, the young girl from Nepal.

Now Europe’s largest platform for Asian cinema, the London Indian Film Festival returns to the Capital, celebrating 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.

The festival will open in the West End at the historic Cineworld Haymarket, and continue at BFI Southbank, ICA and Cineworld Cinemas around London. The festival is grant funded by the BFI Film Festival Fund.

About the screening, Executive Producer Emma Thompson comments: “It is wonderful to have our film premiered at London Indian Film Festival, to raise awareness of child-trafficking, which is an issue close to my heart and is shockingly on the increase world-wide. We hope that this film will make people think and highlight the support for key charities such as The Helen Bamber Foundation and others working in this difficult area in India, Nepal and elsewhere”

About the film, Actor Gillian Anderson states: “Working on this sensitively told film and with young women who have themselves experienced the un-believable trauma of abduction and trafficking has opened my eyes to the horrors these young people face on a daily basis as well as the often life threatening danger those working at the charities put themselves in to free these innocent victims from modern day slavery”

Gillian Anderson has been on a roll with some amazing performances in the past few years like The Fall and Hanibal, and being a huge fan and spending a large chunk of my adolescence watching her as Scully in X-Files, I am quite excited to see Sold, even though the subject is such an important one, I do wonder if it might be a depressing start to such a colorful festival.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the programme looks like, every year they manage to show some great movies, we so have faith in the team led by Cary Raj Sawhney.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta