Here comes The Bagri Foundation – London Indian Film Festival (LIFF)

By Smita Sarkar

Smita Sarkar

It’s the time of the year again when Asian movie lovers wait for the UK premiere of top notch Indian commercial and independent movies, showcased during the week-long The Bagri Foundation – London Indian Film Festival (LIFF). This year, the festival will be screening films in London, Birmingham and Manchester between the 21stJune to 1st July 2018.

Cary Sawhney, Director of LIFF was budding with excitement when he spoke to about the festival’s events this year, sharing the top picks on the list of entertaining and thought-provoking independent films that challenge stereotypes and bring out soul touching, yet compelling stories told by neo filmmakers.

“It’s a fascinating experience this time with a plethora of films playing at 11 cinemas across London this year. You will be very hard pressed to find something that you don’t like in this festival,” said Cary.

The Festival Highlights are three themes. The Female Eye – showcasing six new films by South Asian women filmmakers. The Father and Sons theme will feature films to explore the complexities of masculinity through some multifarious father and son relationships. The theme Extraordinary Lives are motivational independent films and documentaries depicting ordinary lives in extraordinary conditions.

The red carpet, followed by the World Premiere of the Opening Film Love Sonia, produced by Oscar nominated David Womark will be at the Empire (Cineworld) at Leicester Square. Directed by Tabez Noorani, the film is based on the story of two sisters caught up in the gritty world of global human trafficking. Starring Demi Moore as a Ghost, the film has a strong cast of Freida Pinto, Mark Dupass, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpayee, among others.

Tabez Noorani will be open to Q&A after the show.

A Marathi silly comedy film is Prakash Kunte’s Cycle – a magical and life affirming story about a well-known astrologer and his even more famous yellow cycle, known as Sunshine. Sunshine gets stolen, and Keshav is completely crestfallen with his most precious possession gone as all his predictions start going wrong.

STILL FROM LOVE SONIA: Based on the gritty world of global human trafficking, this WORLD PREMIERE from Oscar nominated producer (Life of Pi), David Womark was shot in 3 continents. Starring: Demi Moore (Ghost), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Mark Duplass (The Mindy Project), Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Richa Chadda & Mrunal Thakur as the courageous Sonia. There is a Q&A with director Tabrez Noorani and cast and crew

Another recommended British comedy is Eaten by Lions, when two half-brothers, brought up by their grandma in Bradford after their parents were accidentally killed by lions in a safari park, is also one of the recommended ones to watch. On their grandma’s sudden death the teenage boys set out looking for family care and mayhem breaks loose when one of the brothers discovers his new orthodox Muslim family.

This year’s festival showcases films that both entertain you and make you think. One such documentary is the Bengal Shadow, directed by Joy Banerjee. A hard-hitting documentary that brings light to a lesser-known episode of the Second World War – the 1943 famine, during which time several million people starved to death in Bengal will be screened at the London School of Economics with Dr Amartya Sen and Dr Tirthankar Roy having a discussion on the times.

Dipesh Jain’s dark psychological thriller Gali Guliyan expertly explores the roots of paranoia as a reclusive shopkeeper spends his days obsessively watching people through hidden cameras when he overhears a boy being beaten by a man and begins his frantic search for the boy. His grasp on reality falters, until he eventually stumbles across a shocking truth about a father and his abused son.

Another experimental film is Ukrainian Diretor Dar Gai’s Teen Aur Adha produced by Anurag Kashyap. A lecturer at Mumbai’s Whistling Woods, Dar has made the film in real time, with no edits. The fascinating, yet beautifully layered and stylistically ground breaking saga narrates the story of one house which exists in three different eras.

“The uniqueness of the festival is its diversity,” said Cary. “These are fresh films which you do not get to see often, rare glimpses of cinema of over a billion people.”


This year’s films have been carefully hand-picked by Senior Programing Head Naman Ramachandran, who has been with the Festival from its inception. Krushal Patel joined the team this year, with Cary Sawhney being the Head of Programing.

These are the best of world cinema that are being premiered for the first time in London, Birmingham and Manchester after they’ve done the rounds in international film festival circles. A complete feast for film-lovers for the next two weeks.