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Monday, December 11, 2023

UK Asian Film Festival 2019 Opens with Bollywood Royalty & Revolutionary Cinema

Tongues On Fire’s UK Asian Film Festival 2019 (UKAFF) kicked off with the Opening Gala on Wednesday 27th March at The May Fair Hotel in London, inspired by the theme of Revolution.

The star-studded night, which marks the 21st year of the festival, began with an in conversation with veteran Indian actress Zeenat Aman, following the screening of Rasika Dugal-starrer, Hamid.

The in-depth and candid conversation reflected on Zeenat’s extraordinary journey as the game-changing actress, beauty queen and reigning star of the 1970s and 1980s.

Reflecting on this year’s programme, Dr Pushpinder Chowdhry, MBE – Director and founder of UKAFF said:

“This year’s festival will present pertinent stories of the ordinary person told through films that address global challenges of our time.

Revolutions help define who we are; they can either bring glorious freedom to our inner thinking and outer aspects of our lives or restrain us by what we think is acceptable.

Only then can we break the boundaries to realise our full potential and to navigate our way in the world.”

As such, an array of talented artists graced their presence on the red carpet for the splendorous evening.

Some of the names consist of:

  • Hindi cinema veteran actress, Zeenat Aman.
  • British-Asian Comedian Paul Chowdhury.

Additional guests expected to be attending this year’s festival consists of:

  • Veteran Indian actress Shabana Azmi, who will be presenting the World Premiere of the documentary film Kaifinama (on 7th April), based on the life and art of Azmi’s father, progressive Urdu poet, Kaifi Azmi.

(Shabana will also be hosting actor’s masterclass in Leicester).

  • Sholay director Ramesh Sippy, who will be in the conversation at the Closing Flame Awards Gala at BAFTA 195, London.

This will be followed by the presentation of the UK Asian Film Festival Awards on 7th April.

  • Tajdar Kamal Amrohi, director, producer, writer and son of the late, legendary Pakeezah filmmaker, Kamal Amrohi will participate in a Q&A followed by a screening of the film on 1st April at the British Library.

At the opening night, Filme Shilmy managed to have a tête-à-tête with some of the celebrities themselves.

First and foremost was veteran Indian actress, Zeenat Aman.

Aman redefined the archetypal heroine in Indian cinema in an era when they played secondary characters, largely obedient wives and lovers that elevated and served to affirm the male lead onscreen.

Given that this year’s central theme is Revolution, Zeenat ji tells us what the word means to her:

“Revolution means change. Change, that’s really what it signifies to me.

I know that this festival gives a platform to women whether they are technicians, filmmakers from all over Asia.

I think it’s wonderful that it is happening.”

From the disenchanted, pot-smoking hippie in Hare Rama Hare Krishna to the disfigured temple singer yearning for love in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Zeenat was drawn to more unconventional roles.

She was credited with making a lasting impact on the image of leading actresses by introducing a bold and modern look to Hindi cinema.

So what drove her to choose such roles?

“I had to choose what was offered to me. Once I was accepted in the characters I was, then parts were written for me accordingly.

Whether it was in films like Manoranjan, Chori Mera Kaam or Roma in Don, these parts were written for me. It just worked and nothing succeeds like success. That’s the way it is.”

Overall, UK Asian Film Festival 2019’s Opening Gala was a success.

With an excellent line-up of films and talks this year, one is certain that the UK Asian Film Festival will pay a magnificent homage to revolutionary cinema and woman-power.

Full festival programme details via http://www.ukaff.com

Festival Dates:

London: 27th March – 7th April

Edinburgh: 29th March – 31st March

Glasgow: 21st March – 4th April

Leicester: 3rd April – 6th April

Manchester: 30th April – 4th May

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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