J'AIME JUNE 2019

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FEATURE

Celebrating Indian cinema

BIRMINGHAM INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS FROM JUNE 21 TO JULY 1 FOR ITS FIFTH YEAR, BRINGING

A SHOWCASE OF THE BEST SOUTH ASIAN CINEMA TO THE SECOND CITY. AMY NORBURY CHATTED TO

FESTIVAL DIRECTOR CARY RAJINDER SAWHNEY AND PROGRAMMER DHARMESH RAJPUT, AS WELL AS

ACCLAIMED FILM DIRECTOR RIMA DAS, AHEAD OF THE CELEBRATIONS

The world’s largest film industry,

India produces more films

watched by more people than

any other country.

And for 11 days this month the

Second City is set to become a

hub for the very best in Indian

cinema, showcasing a rich

assortment of entertaining and

thought-provoking independent

films that have been winning

awards and making global

impact, as well as welcoming

some of the most acclaimed

stars and directors to the

Midlands.

Now in its fifth year, the

Birmingham Indian Film Festival is part of the UK

and Europe’s largest South Asian film festival, run

in conjunction with the Bagri Foundation London

Indian Film Festival which opens the day before on

June 20, as well as new festivals in Manchester and

Bradford. This year’s screenings will take place at

BENGALI DIRECTOR

BUDDHADEB DASGUPTA

BRINGS HIS FILM THE FLIGHT

TO BIRMIMGHAM

Cineworld Broad Street, as well as MAC Birmingham

in Cannon Hill Park, The Mockingbird Cinema in

the Custard Factory and, new for 2019, Centrala in

Digbeth.

“The festival is always coming up with new surprises

each year,” says festival director Cary Rajinder

Sawhney. “Our greatest strength is the diversity of

films we screen in many different Indian and South

Asian languages; comedies and films with strong

issues, family and children’s films like the delightful

Chuskit, which adults can also enjoy.

“This year we open on June 21 with the world

premiere of Article 15 starring Bollywood star

Ayushmann Khurrana, a police whodunit which

should be a big hit like all the actor’s recent films.

“We bring to Birmingham another world premiere

highlight Ardass II with Punjabi superstar Gippy

Grewal. On top of this we have the premieres of

top films from some of the world’s greatest festivals

including Cannes and Toronto. We are bringing you

the cream of the crop for a few days only.”

A decade ago Cary decided it was time for a

celebration of Indian cinema in the UK, setting

up the London Indian Film Festival, which then

expanded into Birmingham five years later.

“I have been Festival Programme Adviser South

Asia for BFI London Film Festival for many years,”

he says. “It’s the biggest UK film festival but sadly

it can’t screen all the great films that arrive on its

desks. I set up the festival in order to showcase some

of these great new films that might otherwise not be

platformed in the UK at all. Luckily for us, 10 years

ago the Indian indie scene started to grow from a

trickle of quality films to a stream and now a river, so

we hit the tide at the right moment!”

Over the past five years, the Birmingham festival has

grown to become a major celebration in the city.

“We started back in 2015 just with seven films at two

cinemas, and we now show around 15 films in four

cinemas,” explains festival programmer Dharmesh

Rajput, a lecturer at Birmingham City University’s

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