INDIA AT 70
– a season of films marking 70 years
since Indian independence and Partition –
screening across the UK Sep-Dec 2017
‘India at 70’ is a project comprising a season of Indian films to mark the 70th anniversary of India’s independence and Partition taking place in the UK in autumn 2017.
As India and Indian communities around the world mark this momentous anniversary, this film season is a timely recognition of India’s rich and diverse culture, history and its many languages. India gained independence from British imperial rule on 15 August 1947, paving the way for India to take its place on the world stage – the second most populous country in the world, and today with a huge diaspora around the world, not least in the UK.
However, Partition was also a time of deep unrest, conflict, division, and trauma, elements of which still remain firmly rooted in the consciousness of those affected by Partition and within Indian society more broadly.
This programme explores and reflects these sentiments, whilst illustrating the multi-faceted nature of Indian culture and society, and celebrating the diversity of Indian cinema and its many ‘languages’ – across decades, regions and languages.
The season comprises a selection of films from the 20th century, illustrating India’s rich film history, as well as more recent films from since the millennium, celebrating the diversity and excellence in contemporary Indian cinema, with a particular focus on regional cinemas.
This has been a challenging yet exciting project, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to screen some wonderful, fascinating and intriguing films that have been rarely seen on UK screens. Of course, there were many films we would have liked to screen but for which sourcing rights proved impossible! From Bimal Roy’s pre-partition film Towards the Light, and his classic Devdas, to a film that was the embodiment of the nation, Mother India, to one of the earliest Marathi cinema classics Sangte Aika, as well as other iconic Indian films Mere Mehboob, Sholay, Tanariri and Masoom. We are continuing to research some of these classics, along with some rare Satyajit Ray films, so look out for screenings of more Indian archive films from us in the future!
For more info, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIA AT 70 - PART I
Undoubtedly India’s most renowned film director, Satyajit Ray is recognised as one of the great masters of cinema of the 20th century. His canon of work, comprising 28 feature films and 8 short and medium length films, forms a major part of India’s rich film history, which led the way for contemporary independent Indian cinema to develop and flourish. His work explores Indian society, class culture being a recurrent theme, with a particular focus on his native Bengali culture and society.
dir. Satyajit Ray
India 1961 I 54 mins I English I 35mm I recommended cert PG
Through documentary and archival footage, Satyajit Ray presents an in-depth portrait of the life of his compatriot, Rabindranath Tagore. A great writer, poet, composer and painter, Tagore was instrumental in bringing the Bengali language into cultural expression through various artforms, and was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was also an active proponent of Indian independence from British rule. A fascinating exploration into the life of one of India’s great cultural icons.
Print courtesy of the Packard Humanities Institute Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
*screening with Sikkim
dir. Satyajit Ray
India 1962 I 102 mins I Bengali + subtitles I 35mm I recommended cert PG
This film tells the story of a wealthy family on holiday in the Himalayan hill station of Darjeeling, set against the backdrop of the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjungha. The father, Indranath, wishes for his daughter, Monisha, to marry someone of his choosing, and is of the opinion that left together with the preferred suitor for some time, a marriage proposal would result. The film is constituted for the most part of several long conversations through which the daughter’s feelings about her father’s wish are revealed, alongside the reactions of her mother among others. By chance, Monisha meets another man, Ashoke, whose presence, as well as her sister’s failed marriage, prompt her to reject her father’s choice, all set against the backdrop of the mountains.
Print courtesy of the Packard Humanities Institute Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
dir. Satyajit Ray
India 1971 I 55 mins I English I recommended cert PG
Banned for some 30 years, this documentary presents a window onto life in the hidden mountain kingdom of Sikkim, nestled between Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet, which formally became part of India in 1975. Originally commissioned by the former Chogyal (King) of Sikkim, this documentary presents a fascinating look into this rarely seen Himalayan land.
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.
*screening with Rabindanath Tagore
Days and Nights in the Forest (Aranyer Din Ratri)
dir. Satyajit Ray
India 1969 I 115 mins I Bengali/English + subtitles I 35mm I cert 15
Four friends decide to leave behind the daily grind of city life in Calcutta, and set off on a road trip into the Palamau forest in Bihar. These are four quite different characters, and through a journey of self-discovery they come to learn more about themselves and each other, while their youthful arrogance -leads to a catalogue of disastrous and often amusing escapades. Ray’s masterful character studies combine with light comedy and more serious undertones of imperialism, revealing a complex interplay between the characters and a striking juxtaposition of the city and the rural environment.
The Chess Players (Shatranj Ke Khilari)
dir. Satyajit Ray
India 1976 I 129 mins I Hindi/Urdu/English + subtitles I 35mm I cert PG
Set in Lucknow in 1856, two noble landowners Mir (Saeed Jaffery) and Mirza (Sanjeev Kumar) incessantly play chess every day. They are oblivious to the political developments happening around them. The daily life of these two chess devotees is set against the backdrop of the colonising aims of a powerful British army seeking to annex the Indian state of Awadh. With the King of Awadh’s devotion to religion and pursuit of pleasure, he neglects his state duties, and British rule is asserted. Ray uses chess as a subtle metaphor for the larger political game being played out around Mir and Mirza. Narrated by Amitabh Bachchan, and with Richard Attenborough as General Outram.
dir. Adoor Gopalakrishnan
India 1981 I 116 mins I Malayalam + subtitles I DVD I cert PG
Arguably the true heir to Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan is regarded as one of India’s most outstanding filmmakers and Rat-Trap was the first film to bring him widespread international acclaim. Remarkable for its focus on characterization and detail, Rat-Trap is set in rural Kerala. Its story concerns Unni, the last male-heir of a feudal and decaying joint family. His inability to accept the socio-economic changes of a new society result in his gradual withdrawal into a metaphorical rat-trap sprung from his own isolation and paranoia. The decline is vividly told, with colour and music used as a striking and significant constituent of the film’s thematic development.
dir. Deepa Mehta
India 1998 I 110 mins I Hindi/Urdu/English + subtitles I 35mm I cert 15
Lahore, 1947, and the borders between India and Pakistan are being drawn as imperial rule comes to an end. Lenny is a young girl from a wealthy Parsi family, hoping to remain neutral to the rising tensions between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the area. She is adored by her parents, and is cared for by a nanny, the beautiful Shanta (Nandita Das), with whom both Dil (Aamir Khan) and Hassan are in love. All three are part of a larger group of Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh friends, some of whom work for Lenny’s family. With Partition, however, this once unified group of friends becomes divided and tragedy ensues.
War and Peace (Jang aur Aman)
dir. Anand Patwardhan
India 2002 I 134 mins I Hindi/Marathi/Punjabi/Urdu/English/Japanese I DVD I recommended cert 15
Ananth Patwardhan, one of India’s most respected documentarians, filmed War and Peace over four tumultuous years following nuclear arms testing in India and Pakistan. As the two nations rattled their sabres, Patwardhan set out to explore the national rhetoric that gripped the sub-continent, exposing the cynical manipulation of citizens in the name of national security. This compelling film confronts the vested interests of global militarism, foreshadowing a world where war has become perennial, enemies are constantly re-invented and economies are inextricably linked to the production and sale of weaponry. This is a powerful exposé of how easily patriotism and religion can be corrupted into jingoism and violence – and a formidable argument for peace.
King’s India Institute: 17 Nov + intro by Tanya Singh
dir. Ritu Sarin/Tenzing Sonam
India/UK 2005 I 90 mins I Tibetan/English + subtitles I 35mm/DVD I recommended cert PG
Karma, a Tibetan filmmaker from New York, goes to Dharamsala in northern India (home to the Dalai Lama and centre of the Tibetan exile community), to make a documentary about ex-political prisoners who have escaped from Tibet. Through her attempt to re-engage with her roots, she meets Dhondup, an ex-monk. He confides in her that his real reason for coming to India was to fulfil his dying mother’s last wish, to deliver a charm box to a resistance fighter who had long been missing. A fast-paced journey into the fractured past of Tibet and its dislocated present in exile, this is also a passionate voyage of self-discovery.
dir. Nandita Das
India 2008 I 101 mins I Hindi/Urdu/Gujarati/English + subtitles I 35mm I recommended cert 12A
Set in the aftermath of the 2002 riots in Gujarat which saw 3,000 Muslims lose their lives, Firaaq follows the lives of various characters – victims, perpetrators and silent onlookers – in a series of interconnected narratives, as they face their guilt, anger and fear. The title of actress-turned-director Nandita Das’ debut feature, Firaaq, stems from an Urdu word meaning both separation and quest, evoking notions of division, as well as the search for hope that each character follows.
I Am Kalam
dir. Nila Madhab Panda
India 2010 I 98 mins I Hindi/Rajasthani/Punjabi/English + subtitles I DVD I recommended cert U
Inspired by former Indian President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, this film centres on the struggles of its protagonist – Chhotu, exemplifying the struggle of millions of children living in poverty in India. I am Kalam is the story of a child striving to pursue his dreams and to overcome social inequality, and above all it is about the need for education to be accessible to all. I am Kalam is a Smile Foundation production and is the first Indian film to be produced by a development NGO. With this film, Smile Foundation is seeking to draw attention to their goal of every child in India having access to education in order to secure a better future.
A Temple (Deool)
dir. Umesh Kulkarni
India 2011 I 135 mins I Marathi + subtitles I DVD I recommended cert PG
While asleep under a tree one day, a villager Kesha, is visited by the god Dutta in his dream. When he wakes up, he tells everyone in the village about his vision. While few care for his story, his divine experience sparks fear within the village, giving Kesha a newfound position which shifts the dynamics of daily life in the community. As Kesha’s story spreads, conflict surrounding upcoming elections and local development begins to surface, resulting in tension between those wishing to use Kesha’s vision to their own ends, and those wanting to put paid to his story. Part of the recent wave of acclaimed Marathi cinema, A Temple is an astute reflection on religion, politics and corruption in contemporary Indian society.
dir. Ashim Ahluwalia
India 2012 I 113 mins I Hindi + subtitles I DCP I recommended cert 18
Brother Vicky and Sonu Duggal are partners in crime, churning out sex-horror films for the underground world of Mumbai’s small picture houses, where opportunism, corruption and lust abound. Skirting censorship, and gangland distributors, hustler Vicky struggles to run their operation, leaving the legwork to Sonu, whose rage bubbles beneath the surface. On the train home one day, Sonu is mesmerised by the mysterious Pinky, a struggling actress. He knows that only she can save him. Increasingly resentful of Vicky, Sonu decides to produce his dream romantic film, Miss Lovely. But nothing is what it seems in this garish underworld of shifting alliances and doomed love.
Deptford Cinema, London: 4 Dec + intro by Jasper Sharp
dir. Chaitanya Tamhane
India 2014 I 116 mins I Marathi/Hindi/Gujurati/English + subtitles I DCP/Bluray I cert PG
Narayan Kamble, an ageing folk singer living in Mumbai, has been marked by the authorities as a dissident. Kamble’s latest charge is for inciting the suicide of a sewage worker through the allegedly seditious lyrics in his songs. With no evidence and few witnesses, events unfold in a lower Mumbai courtroom. Alongside this, glimpses into the lives of Kamble’s defence lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge illuminate the personal prejudices, corruption and injustice still prevalent in the shadows of the system. Tamhane’s debut feature places this narrative within the context of a country full of contrasts: modernity versus tradition, wealth versus poverty, young versus old, with both humanity and humour.
King’s India Institute: 1 Dec + intro by Kriti Kapila
A Billion Colour Story
dir. N. Padmakumar
India 2016 I 115 mins I Hindi/Urdu/English + subtitles I DCP I recommended cert 12A
Hari Aziz is a cool, happy-go-lucky 11 year old, son of Muslim father Imran and Hindu mother Parvati, who met at film school in Australia. This is a modern Mumbai family living a contented life, unhindered by religious difference with an optimistic view on the world. However, as financial difficulties set in, with Imran and Parvati striving to make their first film, the family is forced to move into a rented apartment and their happy existence is turned on its head. In their new neighbourhood, they soon realise that religious intolerance and corruption are still rife in their beloved country, and are forced to question their future in India. But with his refreshing perspectives and unceasing curiosity, Hari has own ideas…
The Violin Player
dir. Bauddhayan Mukherji
India 2016 I 72 mins I Hindi + subtitles I DCP/Bluray I recommended cert 15
The Violin Player is the story of a day in the life of a failed Bollywood session violinist. His life is mundane and he’s become a failure, not only in his professional life, but in his personal life too. That day, however, he’s thrown a lifeline which he finds in the unlikeliest of places. A chance encounter with a stranger, a filmmaker who needs a music score for a film, offers him an opportunity for redemption, leading to a journey of self-discovery – about music, art, life and survival.
VENUES & SCREENINGS
11 Sep The Chess Players
18 Sep Earth
21 Sep Firaaq
27 Sep Court
National Media Museum, Bradford
13 & 14 Sep Court
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
23 Sep A Billion Colour Story
23 Sep Miss Lovely
24 Sep Earth
24 Sep Days and Nights in the Forest
The Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford
24 & 25 Sep The Chess Players
26 Sep Court
Screening at HOME as part of Not Just Bollywood. For more details visit homemcr.org/not-just-Bollywood
Cambridge Arts Picturehouse
12 Oct The Chess Players
19 Oct Day and Nights in the Forest
The Dukes Cinema, Lancaster
17 Oct Court
18 Oct Earth
29 Oct The Chess Players
Electric Picture Palace, Hastings
19 Oct The Violin Player
6 Nov A Temple
26 Nov Dreaming Lhasa
David Lean Cinema, Croydon
25 Oct Court
10 & 11 Nov Miss Lovely
6 & 7 Dec The Chess Players
Usurp Gallery, London
17 Nov Court
18 Nov Miss Lovely
19 Nov I Am Kalam
19 Nov Dreaming Lhasa
24 Nov Rat-Trap
25 Nov The Violin Player
26 Nov War and Peace
King’s India Institute, London
17 Nov War and Peace + intro by Kriti Kapila, Lecture in Social Anthropology and Law
1 Dec Court + intro by Tanya Singh, filmmaker and researcher (King’s India Institute)
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
15 Nov Earth
19 Nov The Chess Players
22 Nov The Violin Player
27 Nov Days and Nights in the Forest
Deptford Cinema, London
22 Nov A Temple
4 Dec Miss Lovely + intro by film curator, writer and filmmaker Jasper Sharp
11 Dec Court
Genesis Cinema, London
26 Nov Court
30 Nov The Violin Player
2 Dec Rabindranath Tagore + Sikkim
6 Dec Kanchenjungha
Both screenings will be introduced by Professor Chandak Sengoopta, Department of History, Birkbeck College, University of London; author of The Rays Before Satyajit: Creativity and Modernity in Colonial India (2016) and of a forthcoming comprehensive biography of Satyajit Ray.
11 Dec Rabindranath Tagore + Sikkim
13 Dec Kanchenjungha
Programme supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network,
Funded by the National Lottery.
Academy Film Archive (May Haduong), Alpha Violet, Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim (Ugyen Chopel, Rakesh Paul), Contemporary Films, Film Division (R. K. Chandel), Future East Productions, Hamilton Mehta Productions, Abhijeet Gholap, Saugata Nandi, Piyali Films, Satish Kaushik Entertainment, Second Run DVD, Shivajee Chandrubhushan Films, Smile Foundation, White Crane Films, Wide Management