Irrfan Khan rocks London!

Cineswami gives us all the dope from the recently concluded 4th London Indian Film Festival

The fact that Irrfan Khan is one of Indian cinema’s most recognised faces abroad was underlined by the fact that he was mobbed wherever he went in London as part of the 4th London Indian Film Festival. Fans of all nationalities, whether British, German, Afghani, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, American, Turkish, French, Spanish, Italian or even from Nauru, accosted Irrfan on his travels across London and requested him to pose with them for keepsake photographs. It all culminated in a packed Q&A with The Warrior director Asif Kapadia at the British Film Institute where a particularly rabid fan asked Irrfan to hug his wife (the fan’s, not Irrfan’s) on stage. Irrfan obliged and sent the crowd (and the wife and husband) into paroxysms of delight.

Meanwhile, director Pawan Kumar’s Kannada-language film Lucia won the coveted Audience Award at the Festival. The inventive crowd-funded film, powered by UK-based online outfit Distrify, delighted sold out audiences across the city. It will get an Indian release on August 15, fitting for an independent film. Pawan Kumar said, “To win this award in the face of such powerful competition is a dream come true for me. I thank the London Indian Film Festival for selecting the film for its world premiere and would also like to thank the London audience and the UK Kannada community for supporting the film.”

Anurag Goswami won the Satyajit Ray Foundation’s short film award, held in conjunction with LIFF, for Kaun Kamleshwar? (Who’s Kamleshwar?). The jury, comprising Atif Ghani (producer – Ill Manors), Kim Longinotto (director – Salma), Sunny Grewal (BBC London), Meghna Gupta (shorts director, Unravel) and Satwant Gill (LIFF), said, “The Satyajit Ray Foundation’s short film award goes to a film which was confident and ambitious in its storytelling, gave us engaging characters and was genuinely cinematic. Using some unforgettable images and offbeat humour the film explores how random decisions have the power to shape our lives.”

Anurag Goswami said, “It’s an honour and a great feeling that our efforts have been recognised at such a prestigious avenue. Short films are finding an audience like never before, courtesy festivals such as LIFF. It’s very encouraging and satisfying that our voices are being heard all over the world. Thank you LIFF!”

Special Jury Mention went to Vikram Dasgupta for his entertaining, bold and vibrant interweaving of stories in the film Calcutta Taxi.

The London Indian Film Festival opened with Amit Kumar’s Cannes favourite Monsoon Shootout and closed with Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Bannerjee and Anurag Kashyap’s homage to the centenary of Indian cinema, Bombay Talkies. The sold out screening was preceded by a powerful speech by noted Bollywood and Hollywood actor Gulshan Grover, who described the wondrous journey of Indian cinema thus far to a rapt audience. Bombay Talkies producer Ashi Dua participated in a lively Q&A after.

Gulshan Grover said, “The London Indian Film Festival makes me proud. As a member of the Indian film fraternity I feel that the festival is doing wonderful things for Indian cinema, especially the cutting edge, progressive cinema that needs a platform for visibility, for reaching out to more people and more hearts. The London Indian Film Festival is exactly doing that.” Gulshan Grover has four new releases coming up including Bullett Raja, Sooper Se Ooper, Yariaan and Baat Bann Gayi.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney, Festival Director said, “The Festival has gone from strength to strength. Its great to close with a wonderful fusion between Bollywood and independent films, different energies and ideas crashing into each other in dynamic ways; a perfect finale for audiences in an eclectic city like London.”