Preview: London Indian Film Festival 2013

Monsoon shootouts, danger-fraught road trips and a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema are among the highlights of this year’s annual roundup of the best new films from the subcontinent.

Samuel Wigley

The Bright Day

The Bright Day

The question of to shoot or not to shoot an escaping suspect becomes a life-changing decision for a Mumbai cop in director Amit Kumar’s new film Monsoon Shootout, which opens this year’s London Indian Film Festival (LIFF). Tipping its hat to films like Sliding Doors (1998), Kumar’s film plays out both alternate realities for a soul-searching action thriller set in the lashing rains of monsoon season.

Over eight days of screenings and events, the festival celebrates the best of new Indian independent cinema, searching out the more challenging and ambitious filmmaking on the subcontinent that exists alongside the commercial Bollywood industry.

Now in its fourth edition, this year’s LIFF widens its net to include its first Pakistani and Gujarati films. Gyan Correa’s The Good Road, an international premiere, is an atmospheric road movie about a young boy who hitches a lift with a truck driver on a dangerous trip across the desolate Kutch peninsula in the state of Gujarat in northwest India.

The Good Road

The Good Road

From Pakistan, Josh features Urdu superstars Aamina Sheikh and Mohib Mirza in a story of class and feudalism, about a wealthy schoolteacher whose nanny mysteriously disappears. Iram Parveen Bilal’s provocative film receives its UK premiere.

Hindi offerings include UK premieres of The Bright Day, about one man’s trip across the subcontinent, and Shahid, based on the real-life trials of activist lawyer Shahid Azmi.

The festival’s special events include award-winning actor Irrfan Khan taking to the stage to discuss his career in conversation with director Asif Kapadia, who directed Khan’s star-making turn in the 2001 film The Warrior. Khan has subsequently appeared in The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Life of Pi (2011) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).



Meanwhile, making a rare trip to London will be director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, one of only two Indian directors (along with Satyajit Ray) to win the BFI’s Sunderland Trophy. Gopalakrishnan will be conducting a masterclass with critic Derek Malcolm, while his 1982 milestone Rat-Trap screens as this year’s festival classic.

In a special free programme at the Nehru Centre on 23 July, six shortlisted films will be competing for the 2013 edition of the Satyajit Ray Foundation’s Short Film Competition. Named after the great Bengali filmmaker, whose work is celebrated with a two-month retrospective at BFI Southbank throughout August and September, the annual competition recognises innovative and inspiring short films that express the experiences of south Asians either in their own country or within diaspora.

The winner of the £1,000 award will be announced at the festival’s closing night gala on 25 July, alongside the UK premiere of Bombay Talkies, a portmanteau film of four stories paying tribute to the history of Indian cinema, which turns 100 years old this year.

View the London Indian Film Festival website for full programme details.

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