‘A Billion Colour Story’ wins top prize at LIFF 2017

Raj Baddhan

Senior Editor


‘A Billion Colour Story’ has won the top prize at the 8th Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) in London and Birmingham, the UK and Europe’s largest platform of independent cinema from the Indian subcontinent. The festival is title sponsored by the Bagri Foundation, with major support from Grange Hotels, Sun Mark Ltd, and is funded by the BFI’s National Lottery Film Festivals Fund.

LIFFs annual Audience Award for Best Film went to ‘A Billion Colour Story’, a powerful plea for Hindu-Muslim unity and religious harmony, directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy and produced by Satish Kaushik, who say in unison, “We’re thrilled and truly, absolutely honoured, to receive this award. It’s incredibly special for us that A Billion Colour Story resonates with audiences across countries and continents. It continues to vindicate our faith that people and their hearts are the same across cultures and horizons. We dedicate this award to the victims of the recent lynchings, in India.”

Other special awards presented by the festival included three Sunmark Ltd ICON Awards for South Asian directors who have made a global contribution to cinema, which went to:

• Adoor Gopalakrishnan, previous winner of the BFI London Film Festival Sutherland Award, from Kerala
• Ashutosh Gowariker, director of Oscar® nominated Lagaan from Mumbai
• Documentary film maker and British Asian LGBTQ+ activist Pratibha Parmar, who is LA/London based

The festival has gained a stellar reputation of highlighting emerging South Asian talent on the international stage, and the Sunmark Ltd Outstanding Achievement Award went to actress Anjali Patil, whose first feature film, Delhi In A Day, directed by Prashant Nair, was showcased at the festival in 2011. Patil won the Indian national award for the Telugu film Naa Bangaaru Talli, the Sri Lankan Presidential Award for With You, Without You, and has just wrapped a schedule with top Bollywood Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, for his film, Mere Pyare Prime Minister. Patil also recently shot with South Indian Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth in Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala, set in the Dharavi slums in Mumbai, and starred in this year’s LIFF line up, in Amit Masurkar’s Newton.

Says Sunny Ahuja of Sunmark Ltd, “It is always a pleasure for us to work with the LIFF. The subject matter of the films and the personalities we get to meet are inspiring, and broach subjects which must be addressed. Without LIFF they are all to easily forgotten. We congratulate the team on a great festival this year and already look forward to the next one.”

Festival executive and programming director Cary Rajinder Sawhney said, “It is wonderful that the festival continues to lead the debate and not simply reflect the changing shape of Indian cinema; from this year’s Indian virtual reality showcases to bringing carefully curated important new talent to the world stage like Anjali Patil to showcasing emerging young directors like Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, director of closing night film, Sexy Durga.”

LIFFs annual Satyajit Ray Short Film Award went to the film Papa, directed by Siddharth Chauhan, who shares, “I was fighting depression and trying to win over myself in many ways, when I decided to take the challenge of making this film. I didn’t have a single penny and no professional assistance, but with a deep prayer in my heart and with the support of my friends in Shimla, we begged, borrowed and did everything we could, to make this film in the best possible way. It wasn’t easy for us, but I guess all the effort was worth it. It is an honour to win this prestigious award.”

Says Satwant Gill, Jury Chair of the Satyajit Ray Short Film Award, “This is mature storytelling which balances a realistic sense of frustration and claustrophobia, with a finely nuanced thread of subtle and deadpan humour.”

Dr Alka Bagri, LIFF Title Sponsor, from Bagri Foundation stated, “We are delighted to showcase such a rich selection of independent South Asian cinema this year, which really shows the subcontinent in all its cinematic diversity”.

The festival has grown significantly in stature and reputation, with pan-Indian and Indian sub continental cinema in several languages, all subtitled in English, BSL (British Sign Language) incorporated in some talks, and this year attracted major award winning films including Newton, Hotel Salvation and The Cinema Travellers, as well as world premieres like the Tamil comedy, Ticket – The Movie.

On the red carpets and in attendance at the festival and talks, were acclaimed singer/poet Satinder Sartaaj, British actress Meera Syal CBE, director Gurinder Chadha OBE, Lord and Lady Desai, Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh, and special guests of the festival included Tomb Raider (2018) star Antonio Aakeel, Midsomer Murders star Manjinder Virk, Bollywood’s villain Gulshan Grover, Rock On!! movie star Purab Kohli, Marathi actress Pooja Sawant, Italian actress Nav Ghotra, and hotshot directorial talent like Shubhashish Bhutiani, Raaghav Ranganathan, Harune Massey, Gigi Roccati, Amit Kumar Biswas. Bringing some of his virtual reality (VR) slate to London, was director of the Indian national award winner, Ship of Theseus, Anand Gandhi.

The festival closes in London at the BFI Southbank, and Birmingham (BIFF) at Cineworld Broad Street, with the award winning road movie, the white knuckle thriller set in Kerala, Sexy Durga. BIFF, presented by LIFF, is partnered with the citywide USTAV celebration of South Asian culture, and runs until 2nd July 2017.