Andhadhun
Andhadhun

The 2019 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) will open with a tribute and moderated discussion with legendary Indian actress Tabu, paired with a screening of her latest film ANDHADHUN directed by IFFLA alum Sriram Raghavan. Tabu is regarded as one of the most talented Indian actors of her generation, having been honored with two National Film Awards, six Filmfare Awards and notably, the Padma Shri from the Government of India in 2011.

Andhadhun sees Tabu taking on the comedic villainess role of Simi, a desperate actress who is caught disposing of her husband’s body in front of a presumably blind pianist Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana). The film follows Simi, Akash, and Akash’s suspicious girlfriend (played by Radhika Apte) in a wicked story of ambition, romance and organ harvesting. Directed by Sriram Raghavan whose film Johnny Gaddaar played at IFFLA in 2008, Andhadhun has won rave reviews and box office success.

The Festival, taking place April 11-14 at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center in Los Angeles, announced its 2019 lineup of narrative and documentary features, and shorts. IFFLA 2019 will feature three world premieres, two North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, and 11 Los Angeles premiere screenings. The impressive lineup represents 9 languages, and includes a diverse collection of female and first-time filmmakers along with festival alumni returning with their latest projects.

Films telling multigenerational stories include NAMDEV BHAU IN SEARCH OF SILENCE about a 65-year-old chauffeur who is reluctantly paired with a 12-year old boy on his cross-country journey to find solitude; the visually poetic CAT STICKS that follows several young people seeking a greater lust for life; JONAKI stars legendary Bengali actress Lolita Chatterjee as an octogenarian who, in her final moments, relives key memories from her life as her present-day 80-year-old self; and LOVE GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND, centering on a young woman’s conflict with her parents over how best to address her brother’s bipolar disorder.

2019 films delving into more political themes include one feature and one short – WIDOW OF SILENCE and NOOREH – that look at the effects of the Kashmir conflict on everyday people; TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS and its story showcasing the poor merchants, pickpockets and homeless population of Delhi; THE SWEET REQUIEM, centering on Tibetan refugees living in Delhi and the lifelong after-effects of their dangerous escape out of Tibet; and the documentary short film CIRCLE that follows a young woman confronting the other women in her family about the cycle of abuse they’ve perpetuated due to tradition.

IFFLA alumni filmmakers lead the charge on festival features ANDHADHUN (Sriram Raghavan), JONAKI (Aditya Vikram Sengupta), PHOTOGRAPH (Ritesh Batra), and THE SWEET REQUIEM (Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam), as well as the shorts CIRCLE (Jayisha Patel), and THE FIELD (Sandhya Suri). Additionally, two films – feature LOVE GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND and the short film YOUTHFUL – have stories that are based in Los Angeles.

Shorts program highlights include Jayisha Patel’s CIRCLE which previously screened in the Berlin, Toronto and at BFI London festivals, THE FIELD from director Sandhya Suri which screened for audiences in Sundance and Toronto, and Busan International Film Festival grand prize winner NOOREH from director Ashish Pandey. In addition, IFFLA 2019 will see the world premieres of the shorts YOUTHFUL from director Varun Chounal, THE SHAILA(S) directed by Neha RT and Sakshi Gulati’s NEON.

OPENING GALA: A TRIBUTE TO TABU

ANDHADHUN

India/2018/139mins/DCP/Hindi
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Producers: Sanjay Routray, Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Screenwriters: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar & Hemant Rao
Cinematographer: K U Mohanan
Editor: Pooja Ladha Surti
Cast: Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte

In Andhadhun, Tabu again takes on a comedic role, albeit still playing the kind of villainess that her audiences adore. Tabu is Simi, a desperate actress who is caught disposing of her husband’s body in front of pianist Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana). Fortunately it’s not a problem – he’s blind. Or is he? Simi and Akash find themselves bound together (literally) in this wicked story of ambition, romance and organ harvesting. Co-starring the delightful Radhika Apte as Akash’s suspicious, sassy girlfriend.

NARRATIVE FEATURES

CAT STICKS

India/2019/94mins/DCP/Bengali/Hindi/English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ronny Sen
Producers: Theodore Indu Shivdasani, Soumyak Kanti De Biswas, Tanaji Dasgupta
Screenwriters: Ronny Sen, Soumyak Kanti De Biswas
Cinematographer: Shreya Dev Dube
Editor: Nikon (Rajarshi Basu)
Cast: Tanmay Dhanania, Sumeet Thakur, Saurabh Saraswat, Joyraj Bhattacharya, Rahul Dutta

Logline: On one rain-soaked night in Kolkata, several young people seek greater lust and life in their relentless pursuit of “brown sugar” and its unsustainable high.

Synopsis: One rain-soaked night in Kolkata, in the city’s hidden corners and forgotten pathways, the aimless lives of several young people crystallize into a sympathetic portrait of addiction in Ronny Sen’s unforgettable feature debut. Together with cinematographer Shreya Dev Dube, who lenses each breathtaking, black-and-white shot with an artist’s eye, Sen evokes another world hiding in plain sight. The city’s nearly empty streets create a stage for the petty crime, meandering conversations, and surreal encounters that accompany each of his characters’ search for the unsustainable high of “brown sugar”. The result is visual poetry that gives these lost souls a necessary spotlight without beautifying their struggle.

Anchored by brave, committed performances by a sterling young cast, Sen’s film won an Honorable Mention award in the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival’s feature competition.

CHIPPA

India/2018/90mins/DCP/Hindi
North American Premiere
Director: Safdar Rahman
Producer: Celine Loop
Screenwriter: Safdar Rahman
Cinematographer: Ramanuj Dutta
Editor: Manas Mittal
Cast: Sunny Pawar

Logline: On the eve of his tenth birthday Chippa is given a mysterious letter written to him by his long-absent father, and embarks on an enchanting journey through the streets of Kolkata to find answers.

Synopsis: Sunny Pawar, the star of 2016’s Oscar-nominated LION, proves his movie star mettle as the delightful title character in Safdar Rahman’s directorial debut. Chippa is a spirited young boy living with his street vendor auntie, a relationship that creates more arguments than tenderness. On the eve of Chippa’s tenth birthday, he’s given a letter written to him by his long-absent father. The letter is written in Urdu, which neither Chippa nor any of the adults in his life can read. Spurred on by yet another shouting match with his auntie, he sets off for one eventful night through the streets of Kolkata in search of answers.

Chippa’s journey brings him into contact with several colorful characters along the way — some who have lessons to impart, some who could learn a thing or two from the outspoken kid. As Chippa gets closer to unraveling the mystery of his father’s letter, we realize we’ve been hooked into a story of intergenerational connections and how we can grow from the mistakes of those who have come before us. CHIPPA is a pure crowd-pleasing family film sure to send you out of the theater with a smile.

JONAKI

India, Singapore, France/2018/95 mins/DCP/Bengali US Premiere
Director: Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Producer: Samir Sarkar
Screenwriter: Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Cinematographers: Mahendra Shetty, Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Editor: Aditya Vikram Sengupta
Cast: Lolita Chatterjee, Jim Sarbh, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Sumanto Chottopadhyay

Logline: While Jonaki, an 80-year-old woman, searches for love in a strange land of decaying memories, her former lover, now old and grey, returns to the world she is leaving behind.

Synopsis: 80-year-old Jonaki, the heroine of visionary director Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s astonishing second feature, has come to the end of a life filled with love interrupted, dreams deferred and disappointments regretfully accepted. Portrayed by legendary Bengali actress Lolita Chatterjee, Jonaki recounts the bittersweet moments of her life, which are rendered as surreal, breathtaking dreamscapes that cast the octogenarian actress as Jonaki’s younger self. We experience her first true love with a dashing Christian man, and the subsequent clash with her traditionalist family over her wishes for marriage.

Wholly delivering on the promise of his first film (IFFLA 2015 award winner LABOUR OF LOVE), Sengupta shows a confidence and artistry in his visuals that mark the growth of a new auteur. His film is inspired by the bedside stories his own grandmother would tell him in his childhood, and with JONAKI, he has both honored her memory, and given her long-silenced voice its richly deserved pulpit.

Wholly delivering on the promise of his first film (IFFLA 2015 award winner LABOUR OF LOVE), Sengupta shows a confidence and artistry in his visuals that mark the growth of a new auteur. His film is inspired by the bedside stories his own grandmother would tell him in his childhood, and with JONAKI, he has both honored her memory, and given her long-silenced voice its richly deserved pulpit.

LOVE GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND

USA/2018/87mins/DCP/English/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ronak Shah
Producer: Masaya Tajika
Screenwriters: Shruti Swaminathan, Ronak Shah
Cinematographer: Jason Knutzen
Editors: Marcus Chan, William Rubenstein, Ronak Shah
Cast: Ariela Barer, Azim Rizk, Sunil Narkar, Nandini Minocha

Logline: An affluent Indian American family implodes under the pressures of a family member’s untreated mental illness.

Synopsis: Nina Sharma is a promising high school student, a budding artist, and the daughter of two affluent Indian American parents in Los Angeles. From the outside, her family life looks perfect, but complications arise when her brother Bharat returns home from college unexpectedly. After exhibiting erratic behavior, a doctor’s visit reveals that Bharat is struggling with bipolar disorder. Nina jumps at the chance to help her brother through his illness, but her parents refuse to face the reality of Bharat’s diagnosis.

Stars Ariela Barer and Azim Rizk portray a fierce brother-sister bond that brims with authenticity, especially when Nina goes to dangerous lengths to protect Bharat. The frank and clear-eyed direction of first-time director Ronak Shah, along with the script by co-writer Shruti Swaminathan, admirably confronts and challenges the stigma surrounding mental illness, while understanding the all-too-common fear of talking about it openly.

NAMDEV BHAU IN SEARCH OF SILENCE

India/2018/82mins/DCP/Hindi/Marathi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Dar Gai
Producer: Dheer Momaya
Screenwriter: Dar Gai
Cinematographer: Aditya Varma
Editor: Shounok Ghosh
Cast: Namdeo Gurav, Aarya Dave, Zoya Hussain

Logline: A 65-year-old chauffeur, tired of the endless noise in Mumbai, decides to leave everything behind in search of blissful peace and quiet. But his plans are complicated by the arrival of an exasperating 12-year-old boy.

Synopsis: Namdev Bhau, a 65-year-old chauffeur in Mumbai, yearns to escape the endless noise of his city life – the complaints of his clients, the cacophony on the street, the bickering at home. When he hears about a place called Silent Valley — reported to be one of the quietest places on Earth — he decides to leave everything and journey there to attain blissful peace and quiet. However, as he sets out on the road, each of his attempts for solitude are comically foiled. The last straw arrives in the form of a precocious 12-year-old boy, who selects Namdev Bhau as the perfect companion for his own journey.

The title role of Namdev is played to perfection by Namdeo Gurav, a first-time actor whose deadpan reactions are worthy of a Buster Keaton comparison. Beneath his cranky exterior lies a sympathetic heart, and as the two road companions learn more about each other’s pasts, Dar Gai’s wonderfully heart-warming feature (a bona fide hit on the festival circuit) deepens and radiates with humanity.

PHOTOGRAPH

India/2018/110mins/DCP/Hindi, Gujarati
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Ritesh Batra
Producers: Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani, Neil Kopp
Screenwriter: Ritesh Batra
Cinematographers: Ben Kutchins, Tim Gillis
Editor: John F. Lyons
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra

Logline: When a street photographer, pressured by his grandmother to marry, convinces a quiet student to pose as his fiancée the two develop an unlikely relationship, but the divides between them might be too big to make it real.

Synopsis: Rafi’s grandmother in the village will not stop asking him to get married. One day while making his living as a photographer of tourists at the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai, Rafi takes a picture of Miloni, a local young accountant student who has stolen a moment alone from her family. When she leaves before he can give her the photograph, he decides to make use of it by sending it to his grandmother as a picture of his future bride. The ruse works too well when grandma announces she’s coming to town to meet her.

What starts for the two as a performance for the benefit of one person slowly becomes something else. As their tender relationship grows, the stark class and age differences between them loom so large as to make a shared future impossible to imagine. Following up on his widely celebrated debut feature THE LUNCHBOX, writer/director Ritesh Batra again delicately crafts a bittersweet love story of people searching to be truly seen in a city where separation and longing are the only constants.

THE SWEET REQUIEM

India/USA/2018/92mins/DCP/Tibetan
Los Angeles Premiere
Directors: Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam
Producers: Ritu Sarin, Shrihari Sathe
Screenwriter: Tenzing Sonam
Cinematographer: David McFarland
Editor: Jabeen Merchant
Cast: Tenzin Dolker, Jampa Kalsang

Logline: A young Tibetan woman living in exile faces her long repressed past and seeks retribution against the man who betrayed her.

Synopsis: Escaping nearly 15 years ago from Tibet, Dolkar (Tenzin Dolker) is a young woman living in exile in Delhi. Her seemingly contented life is completely unmoored when she meets Gompo (Tenzin Dechen), a new arrival to their Tibetan community, who she recognizes as the man who guided her group through the unforgiving and treacherous path to India. As Gompol deals with his own story of heartache and peril, long-repressed memories return to Dolkar, and she resolves to confront him for his betrayal.

Acclaimed filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam return to IFFLA with a haunting personal story of one of the longest running, and some would argue forgotten, refugee communities in the world. Featuring stunning photography from high in the Himalayas, Sarin and Sonam transport us not only to the precarious path to freedom so many Tibetans have taken, but also the ongoing trauma of surviving despite all that has been lost.

TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS

India/2018/122mins /DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Anamika Haksar
Producer: Anamika Haksar
Screenwriters: Anamika Haksar, Lokesh Jain
Cinematographer: Saumyananda Sahi
Editor: Paresh Kamdar
Cast: Ravindra Sahu, Raghubir Yadav, K Gopalan, Lokesh Jain

Logline: An exhilarating and imaginative journey into the real lives of the residents of Shahjanabad, Old Delhi.

Synopsis: For centuries the Shahjanabad area of Old Delhi has been home to migrant workers and the poor. Eschewing stereotypical images and storytelling approaches, TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS takes us into the reality of Old Delhi, centering the stories of its citizens such as a pickpocket, street vendor, labor activist and tour guide. When Pattru, an outcast thief, decides to lead his own tours, the police and tourists reject his stories of the dark truths of the city. Still, he continues, taking us further in to the dream life and subconscious of the community.

For her debut film, accomplished theater director Anamika Haksar spent years in Old Delhi, talking to inhabitants about their lives, thoughts and dreams. Mixing magical thinking with documentary realities, Haksar has created a film where the irreducible dignity of people who are too often rendered invisible by modern, developing society is made tangible and real. TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS is a powerful cinematic vision of Old Delhi, its past and present, and a monument to its people.

WIDOW OF SILENCE

India/2018/86mins/DCP/Urdu
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Praveen Morchhale
Producer: Praveen Morchhale
Screenwriter: Praveen Morchhale
Cinematographer: Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah
Editor: Anthony Joseph
Cast: Shilpi Marwaha, Ajay Chourey, Bilal Ahmad, Noorjahan

Logline: A Kashmiri woman’s attempt to obtain a death certificate for her long-missing husband is thwarted by a corrupt government official.

Synopsis: In the first shot of WIDOW OF SILENCE a beautifully-lit elderly woman is gently tied to a chair by someone offscreen. Not only does this image of paralysis act as a metaphor for the status of women in Kashmir, it foreshadows the entanglement that faces the heroine, Aasia — a situation she attempts to liberate herself from at great cost.

Aasia is a half-widow; her husband was taken by Indian police seven years ago and is presumed dead. However, without a death certificate she can neither remarry nor settle her dire financial situation. A corrupt government clerk offers her the documents she needs, in return for agreement to sell her small plot of land to a buyer of his choosing, plus a commission, and sex.

Through exquisitely composed visuals deeply influenced by the late Kiarostami, filmmaker Praveen Morchhale transports the audience into a world of breathtaking beauty and nihilistic bureaucracy.TV PANELThrough exquisitely composed visuals deeply influenced by the late Kiarostami, filmmaker Praveen Morchhale transports the audience into a world of breathtaking beauty and nihilistic bureaucracy.

TV PANEL

BREAKING IN BROWN: MAKING IT TO SERIES IN TV’S GOLDEN AGE

IFFLA’s 17th edition will continue its tradition of showcasing the best in Indian and South Asian cinema, and this year’s line-up promises to be a collection of the most exciting, original and daring films of the past year. However, as distribution models have changed and exciting content continues to premiere on television and digital spaces, our festival has also changed to include these achievements in our programming.

This panel seeks to highlight the work of South Asian actors, directors, writers and producers working in the television space. Our panelists will be encouraged to share their personal stories of starting out and growing in the industry, and how their South Asian identity has presented unique opportunities and challenges along their career path. They will share their experience and advice on the industry with an eager audience of aspiring young professionals looking for role models for their own careers.

Panelist lineup to be announced in the coming weeks!

SHORTS

BEBAAK (DYING WIND IN HER HAIR)

India/2018/20 mins/DCP/Urdu/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Shazia Iqbal
Producer: Anurag Kashyap
Screenwriter: Shazia Iqbal
Cinematographer: Sachin Gadankush
Editors: Jabeen Merchant, Dipika Kalra
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sarah Hashmi, Vipin Sharma, Sheeba Chadda, Sana Pathan

Logline: When an ambitious architecture student is offered the chance to receive a scholarship from a conservative Muslim trust, her liberal Muslim values will be put to the test.

CIRCLE

UK/2018/14mins/DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Jayisha Patel
Producer: Jayisha Patel
Screenwriter: Jayisha Patel
Cinematographer: Jayisha Patel
Editor: Mdhamiri Nkei

Logline:

Caught in an intricate web of abuse, a teenage girl confronts her family.

THE FIELD

India/2018/19mins/DCP/Hindi
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Sandhya Suri
Producer: Balthazar de Ganay
Screenwriter: Sandhya Suri
Cinematographer: Benoit Soler
Editor: Nicolas Chaudeurge
Cast: Mia Maelzer

Logline: Determined to protect her well-guarded secret, a farmworker will do whatever it takes to prevent the village’s last remaining cornfield from being harvested.

MAYA

India/2018/19mins/DCP/Hindi
US Premiere
Director: Vikas Chandra
Producers: Navjot Gulati, Ghalib Datta, Navneet Singh Gujral
Screenwriter: Vikas Chandra
Cinematographer: Priyanka Singh
Editor: Vini N Raj
Cast: Kirti Kulhari, Alka Amin, Naveen Kasturia

Logline: Having finally found someone she likes, Maya is ready to commit to marriage under one non-negotiable condition: that her mother joins the household.

NEON

India/2018/27mins/DCP/Hindi/English/Marathi
World Premiere
Director: Sakshi Gulati
Producer: Film and Television Institute of India
Screenwriters: Sakshi Gulati, K. Govindaraju
Cinematographer: Ranjeet Mane
Editor: Bhisma Pratim
Cast: Rohit Kokate, Anita Dengale, Rutvij Joshi, Gayatri Damame

Logline:

When their balcony gets covered by a gigantic billboard, a family in Mumbai must adjust to life suspended in permanent dusk, illuminated by a strange neon glow.

NOOREH

India/2018/22mins/DCP/Shina/Kashmiri/Urdu
North American Premiere
Director: Ashish Pandey
Producer: Ashish Pandey
Screenwriter: Ashish Pandey
Cinematographer: Susheel Gautam
Editor: Pallavi Singhal
Cast: Saima Latief, Sanya Manzoor, Afreen Rafiq

Logline:

When a Kashmiri school girl discovers she can prevent the nightly gun firing by keeping her eyes open, she vows to constantly stay awake.

THE SHAILA(S)

India/2019/14 mins/DCP/Hindi/English
World Premiere
Director: Neha RT
Producer: Neha RT
Screenwriter: Neha RT
Cinematographer: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Editor: Neha RT
Cast: Kaneez Surka, Suman Patel, Manka Kaur

Logline:

Under fierce competition from her friends, a wealthy socialite is on the hunt for a maid who will help her host the ultimate tea party.

TUNGRUS

India/2018/13mins/DCP/Hindi, English
Los Angeles Premiere
Director: Rishi Chandna
Producer: Rishi Chandna
Cinematographer: Deepak Nambiar
Editor: Neha Mehra
Cast: The Bharde family

Logline:

An eccentric patriarch struggles to reclaim his household which has been taken over by his formidable pet rooster.

YOUTHFUL

USA/2018/16mins/DCP/English/Punjabi
World Premiere
Director: Varun Chounal
Producer: Laura Franco
Screenwriters: Varun Chounal, Varun Chopra
Cinematographer: Varun Chopra
Editors: Amogh Kochhar, Varun Chounal
Cast: Akalvir Dhaliwal, Shubhit Noor, Channpal Singh, Harleen Kaur, Surinder Kaur, Makheer Singh

Logline:

There’s only one thing getting in the way of this Sikh-American teenager’s rise to social media super-stardom: the jungle of unruly hair on his head and body.

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