The UK-India Year of Culture turns to film now, with the BFI’s upcoming programme India on Film.
There are two parts to the programme – Bollywood 2.0, and Music in Indian Cinema: Song and Dance. Bollywood 2.0 celebrates realist, indie, non-masala cinema, which have resonated amongst both Indian and international festival audiences – “films about people like us, but with songs“.
It all kicks off on Monday (April 3rd) with a panel discussion with industry experts, critics, festival programmers and academics about how mainstream, indie and arthouse cinema in India is engaging with the issues of today, and what the future holds. Details of that are here.
As for the films, here’s what we’ll be watching (again).
Masaan – the critically-acclaimed interplay of three stories of love, resistance, and ultimate tragedy set against the backdrop of the ghats of Varanasi.
Friday 7 April, 8.30pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
Tuesday 11 April, 5.50pm/ Friday 28 April, 8.20pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
Kapoor and Sons – the age-old story of a dysfunctional family reunion told in a thoroughly modern way, and starring a double whammy of cross-border deliciousness, Fawad Khan and Siddharth Malhotra. We loved it when it was released last year and reviewed it here.
Friday 14 April, 8.20pm/ Monday 17 April, 2.15pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
Shahid – the true story of Shahid Azmi, a lawyer who represented numerous often poor suspects charged with terror crimes. The film charts his journey from a joining a militant camps after the Bombay riots to spending seven years in jail on false charges to eventually becoming a lawyer and winning 17 acquittals in 7 years. He was shot dead by unknown assailants in his office at the age of 33.
Tuesday 11 April, 8.30pm/ Sunday 16 April, 5.30pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
Court – an often funny insight into the absurdities and arbitrariness of India’s judicial system, particularly as it relates to its poorer, lower-caste citizens. It’s fly on the wall sensibility means it’s light on structure or coherent narrative, which is left to emerge more organically than we would have preferred. Still it’s had many, many rave reviews – see here and here.
Sunday 23 April, 8.10pm/ Saturday 29 April, 3.30pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
Music in Indian Cinema: Song and Dance celebrates those two great protagonists of Indian cinema – the musical score and dances. Good or bad, they’re sometimes all that’s remembered of some Indian films years later. And as much as we enjoy realist, independent, meaningful films, we also love a good beat and a solid dance step to go with it.
Bajirao Mastani – an epic love triangle based on a Marathi novel, and directed by ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The film stars current day star-duo Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, along with Bollywood and now Hollywood actor Priyanka Chopra (also ‘singer’ – remember Exotic?). Similar in some ways to Bhansali’s 2013 film Ramleela (his take on Romeo and Juliet), it’s equally seductive, and boasts stunning costumes and sets. See a Guardian review here.
Sunday 21 May, 5.30pm/ Tuesday 23 May, 8pm. Tickets go on sale on April 11, 11.30am here.
Bombay – a 1995 production by Mani Ratnam is a Hindu-Muslim love story starring the lovely Manisha Koirala and Arwind Swamy and set to the lead up to the Bombay riots of 1992. It’s soundtrack by A. R.Rahman, featuring songs like the Bombay Theme Tune and Hamma Hamma is one of the most evocative, and memorable in Indian cinema to date. Here’s one of our favourite renditions of the Bombay theme tune to get you in the mood.
Monday 22 April, 8.20pm/ Saturday 27 May, 5.45pm. Tickets go on sale on April 11, 11.30am here.
Om Shanti Om – a film with a questionable plot (not surprising with Farah Khan directing), and an unquestionably happy soundtrack is also showing. With an all-star cast of Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Rampal, and Kirron Kher, a slew of danceable numbers like Dard e Disco and Dhoom Tana, and an appearance by pretty much every popular Bollywood actor in the Deewangi Deewangi video, it’s a tap your feet, pop your shoulders, and not engage the brain type of viewing.
Tuesday 2 May, 8pm/ Friday 12 May, 6pm. Tickets go on sale on April 11, 11.30am here.
The Music Room/ Jalsaghar – a perfect combination of the two types of films being showcased, this film is one of maestro Satyajit Ray’s finest. A Bengali film, it depicts the decline of a landlord and connoisseur of classical music by interweaving music and classical dancing in realistic sequences – a first for its time. It was voted number 20 on the list of “100 Best Films” in 2008 by French film magazine ‘Cahiers du Cinema’.
Saturday 13 May, 3.45pm/ Thursday 18 May, 8.40pm. Tickets go on sale on April 11, 11.30am here.
I have found it/ Kandukondain Kandukondain – a Tamil film adapted on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and stars two of Bollywood’s leading women Aishwariya Rai and Tabu, along with an ensemble cast of South Indian actors Mammootty, Ajith Kumar, Srividya, Raghuvaran and Manivanna. The soundtrack is composed by the ever brilliant A.R. Rahman.
Friday 26 May, 8.05pm/ Tuesday 30 May, 8.10pm. Tickets go on sale on April 11, 11.30am here.
The season also premieres BaahuBali: The Beginning, a Tollywood film (from Telugu, similar to Bombay, for Bollywood). It’s a gigantic in ambition, South Indian epic fantasy film shot simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil, and is rumoured to be the highest grossing film in India to date. See the trailer here.
Friday 21 April, 8.10pm, £8.80-£12.10. Book here.
When: 1 April – 18 May 2017
Where: BFI, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XX
Admission: £8.80 – £12.10
More Info: BFI India on Film
Posted on 2 April 2017