Zeenat Aman to open UK Asian Film Festival in London

Veteran actress Zeenat Aman will open the annual UK Asian Film Festival here on Wednesday evening. The festival will mark its 21st anniversary with screening of films and discussions revolving around the theme of revolution.

Previously known as Tongues on Fire and London Asian Film Festival, the event is known to champion South Asian feminist films and support female artistes. This year, it also covers the #MeToo movement and the recent decriminalisation of gay sex in India.

The festival will see the world premieres of the works of several women filmmakers.

Indian filmmaker Madhumita’s KD (2019) is about an 80-year-old man whose children want him dead to grab his wealth.

Nabamita’s Bengali film Chegu (2019) is the story of a young boy who’s inspired by the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara.

Pakistani director Shazia Ali Khan’s Pinky Memsaab (2018) depicts the lives of south Asians in Dubai.

Some of the films coming to the festival record the changing face of India.

Roopa Barua’s documentary Daughters of the Polo God (2018) tells the story of young women playing the traditional male dominated game of polo in Manipur despite adversities.

Sridhar Rangayan’s Evening Shadows (2019) is about a young gay man growing up in a small town in southern India. Mayur Kataria’s Ek Aasha (2019) is about a transgender girl’s struggle to become a teacher.

Actress Radhika Apte is also attending the festival and will talk about the changing face of the Indian film and television industry.

Filmmaker Ramesh Sippy will also be one of the guests at the fest. The Sholay (1975) director will be discussing his cinematic journey at the closing Flame Awards Gala on 7 April.

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Southall Black Sisters, one of Britain’s leading women’s groups fighting for the rights of black and Asian women, is marking its 40th anniversary this year and to celebrate that, the festival will be showing four films, one for each decade of the group’s history.

The films include Provoked (2007), starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, which is loosely-based on the story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, an Indian woman who came to international attention after killing her husband in 1989 in the UK. Her life sentence was overturned after a campaign by the Southall Black Sisters group.

Other films curated by the group for the festival are Burning An Illusion (1981), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Brick Lane (2007).

The UK Asian Film Festival will run between 27 March and 4 May in five cities across the country including London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Leicester.

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