Entertainment & Arts

Festival showcases independent Indian films

Monsoon Shootout
Image caption Amit Kumar's Monsoon Shootout received its UK premiere at the festival

Now in its fourth year, the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) showcases cutting-edge films by independent film-makers from South Asia.

Organisers say the festival aims to dispel the myth that the Indian film industry is confined to Bollywood.

The 10-day programme includes films which present a more realistic view of India, tackling issues of sexuality, infidelity and corruption.

Opening this year's LIFF is Monsoon Shootout. A dark thriller set in Mumbai, it tells the story of a rookie cop facing the dilemma: to shoot or not to shoot.

The film noir - which received a positive response from critics when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year - is the directorial debut of singer and actor Amit Kumar.

"Being the opening film in LIFF is like coming home, as I developed the original idea for the film in London," he says.

"It's like a tribute to all the people from the UK who've been involved in the project."

Image caption Josh is the first film directed by a woman to feature at the festival

For the first time the festival includes a female director from Pakistan. Iram Parveen Bilal has written, produced and directed Josh, which tells the story of motherhood, class struggle and feudalism.

The young film-maker says she is delighted to be screening her work at the festival, which she believes is Europe's largest platform for South Asian cinema.

"It'll be interesting to get the British viewpoint about the Pakistani film - they have a history and a connection with Pakistan which is very different from the US or anywhere else in the world," she says.

The festival also provides an opportunity for distributors and industry professionals to meet the many film-makers at the event.

"LIFF provides a platform for film-makers to get their movies out there because that's the ultimate aim of the game," Sheena Morjaria, chief executive officer of film consultancy Flick the Switch, told the BBC.

Other screenings include Shahid, by Hansal Mehta, and Tasher Desh (The Land of Cards), by Bengali director Q - an adaptation of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's dance drama.

Films are in multiple languages including Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Urdu, but all have English subtitles.

Bollywood and Beyond

Although the festival bills itself as an "alternative" to Bollywood, this year's event pays tribute to 100 years of the genre with the UK premiere of Bombay Talkies.

Image caption Irrfan Khan will participate in a Q&A session with director Asif Kapadia

The anthology of four short films also graced Cannes with its impressive cast and directorship.

Festival organiser, Carey Sawhney, says he hopes the festival will pull in a wide-ranging audience.

"The whole aim is to reflect the diversity of our audience. Just over a quarter of them are non-Asians and that group is growing."

One of the highlights of the festival is a question and answer event between Life of Pi star Irrfan Khan and the London-born director of Senna, Asif Kapadia.

The actor and director are meeting 12 years after making Kapadia's award-winning debut film The Warrior.

Irrfan says the British film-maker played a huge role in his early acting career.

"Asif changed my life. I was at the point of giving up a career in acting after struggling for 10 years but he offered me the script on a platter."

The 50-year-old actor, who starred alongside Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart, says he feels the new wave of Indian cinema is more appealing to audiences who want deeper and more meaningful cinema, and not just "masala" movies.

"A whole new breed of film-makers are now reflecting their own society rather than copying Hollywood and that's created an appetite for Indian movies both home and abroad."

The festival runs from 18-25 July. It will also tour Bradford's National Media Museum and Glasgow's Film Theatre.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites