A scene from Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Midnight's Children
Till today Aamir Khan has been one of the handful of Indian actors and film makers, alongside Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and Shyam Benegal, to demonstrate the greatest interest in showcasing Indian cinema to international audiences.
Beginning with Lagaan at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland to Peepli Live at Sundance Film Festival in Utah, USA, Khan has kick-started the trend for Hindi cinema and screen personalities to compete along with international movie makers.
After Cannes, Toronto and Berlin, London seems to be the next big festival destination, with Abhay Deol, Arjun Rampal, Rani Mukerji and Anurag Kashyap being some of the A-list Bollywood faces to be part of the 56th BFI London Film Festival.
Running from October 10th to 21st 2012, this year’s programme includes 9 films from India. This is part of a worldwide selection of 225 feature films and 111 shorts from more than 65 countries.
Over 12 days and nights, cinemas around London will play host to films and film-goers from around the world. While the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Dustin Hoffman and The Rolling Stones will be seen strolling up and down the red carpet at gala screenings, key figures and films from the Indian Subcontinent will also participate in the festival.
Top of the list is director Mira Nair who will be showing off her latest film starring Brit Asian sensation, Riz Ahmed, in a special screening of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which also featured at the Venice Film Festival. An adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's award winning novel of the same name, it tells the tale of a young Pakistani stoke broker on Wall Street whose life changes post 9/11.
Following suit will be acclaimed Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta who will be premiering her movie adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 Booker Prize winning novel Midnight’s Children. The film follows the interweaving stories of children who are all born at the stroke of midnight on Indian Independence Day and stars British born Satya Bhabha as well as Anupam Kher and Seema Biswas.
Other films include Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh starring Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol as two brothers who end up fighting on opposite sides of the law, one as a police officer and the other as an undercover spy posing as a member of a gang of left wing revolutionaries who are not what they seem to be. The film, also starring the accomplished Manoj Bajpai, will be having its World Premiere as part of the Thrill Gala event for this genre of festival films, with Jha also attending on the red carpet. As the director of the critically acclaimed political thriller Raajneeti, available on Sanona, expect this one to attract attention.
Also featuring at the festival will be two Anurag Kashyap co-productions, Peddlers and Aiyyaa. Fresh from success at Cannes, Peddlers is a compelling multi-strand film noir telling of an ace narcotics cop struggling with impotence. Rani Mukerji, who returns to the silver screen after No One Killed Jessica and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, is Aiyyaa, an eccentric Marathi girl who is seduced by the smell of Tamil student, Prithviraj - much to his annoyance. With a fresh exploration into Maharashtrian culture the film is touted to be in the vein of quirky French comedy Amelie. Having made films like Black Friday and Dev D (available on Sanona), Kashyap continues his experimental streak with these two.
Other Indian features and shorts at the festival include:
Mahanagar (THE BIG CITY): Dir. Satyajit Ray – Archive collection
Ship Of Theseus: Dir. Anand Gandhi
Save Your Legs!: Dir. Boyd Hicklin (Co-production with Australia)
With You, Without You (OBA NATHUWA OBA EKKA): Dir. Prasanna Vithanage (Co-production
with Sri Lanka)
I Am Micro: Dir. Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia
BFI’s Head of Exhibition and Festival Director, Clare Stewart says, “The public appetite for film has never been stronger and this year’s programme should not disappoint. The films are rich, varied, intense and unpredictable with a riot of different voices, new perspectives and original stories to tell. From the brave to the colloquial, from the shocking to the funny, there is something for every one of us in this showcase of the very best cinema in the world.”
For further information on these titles and the full festival programme please visit www.bfi.org.uk/lff