Home Manchester will present a season of independent Indian cinema with a selection of one-off screenings exploring a flourishing film scene rarely experienced in British cinema.

Not Just Bollywood introducing audiences to must-see films, many of which never made it onto UK cinema screens, curated by Omar Ahmed, a UK-based film scholar and PhD researcher (Indian Cinema) at the University of Manchester.

The Indian ‘Hindie’ (Hindi + Indie) film scene has flourished over the past decade, producing bold and original works and presenting new voices, talent and production companies. Home’s Not Just Bollywood season plugs audiences into a vibrant independent scene and filling an until-now overlooked gap in British film programming.

Alongside a series of events, including a post-screening Q&A with award-winning actor, writer and director Rajat Kapoor, an informal panel discussion exploring recent trends in Indian cinema and a One Hour Intro in which Omar Ahmed will examine the new voices emerging from the Indian independent industry, screening highlights include Ankhon Dekhi (2013), Court (2014) The Lunchbox (Dabba) (2014), Kothanodi (2015), The Cinema Travellers (2016) and Newton (2017).

Home Manchester’s Not Just Bollywood season runs 14-30 September 2017

What’s on at Not Just Bollywood at Home Manchester?

The listings:

The Lunchbox (Dabba) – Thursday 14 September, 18:10
Director Ritesh Batra/IN FR DE US CA 2013/105 mins/Hindi wEng ST/Cert PG
Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Already a classic of Indian cinema, director Ritesh Batra’s finely tuned love story was an unexpected international success. Featuring a triptych of striking performances from Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, this is an endearing work that connects food and romance with a beguiling charm. Shot entirely on location in Mumbai, Batra’s script incorporates the tradition of dabbawallas who deliver hot food in tiffins to workers during lunchtime. The lunchtime ritual of eating that ensues leads to comical exchanges between a master and his apprentice. Perhaps most excitedly, the film launched the career of Ritesh Batra and reiterated the brilliance of Irrfan Khan’s acting prowess. The film won numerous awards and controversially missed out on being India’s Oscar entry for 2013.

One Hour Intro/ Hindies: New Indian Independent Cinema – Saturday 16 September, 16:45
The rise of the Hindie film (Indie + Hindi) has been an illustrious one, taking place in a changing industry backdrop, which has seen the emergence of new production companies. New voices have emerged that represent an alternate, independent type of Indian cinema that is flourishing with a new middle-class multiplex audience and beyond. Many Hindie films have also made an impact on the film festival circuit, challenging the parochial international perceptions of Indian cinema. This talk will explore some of these bold, original new voices including filmmakers, writers and actors that have shaped the Hindie film over the last ten years.

Newton will be shown at Not Just Bollywood at Home Manchester

Newton will be shown at Not Just Bollywood at Home Manchester

Newton – Saturday 16 September, 18:15
Director Amit Masurkar/IN 2017/106 mins/Hindi wEng ST/Cert CTBA
Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathy, Anjali Patil
Having already bagged a major prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Newton stars Rajkumar Rao, one of Indian cinema’s brightest acting talents. A seamless socio-political satire, this is a potent work that pits a government clerk against the machinations of electioneering in India’s rural hinterland. Writer and director Amit Masurkar first shot onto the indie scene with the breakout cult comedy Sulemani Keeda (2014) about a pair of struggling scriptwriters. The main lead of Newton, Rajkumar Rao has starred in numerous critically acclaimed indie films including Shahid (2013), Aligarh (2016) and Trapped (2017), and works predominately in the Indian indie film scene. Newton also stars the hugely talented character actor Pankaj Tripathy in a supporting role. Produced by Manish Mundra, founder of Drishyam Films (2013). Drishyam Films, an independent production company, has emerged as one of Indian cinema’s most innovative and original new voices, nurturing and supporting new filmmakers and contributing to the increasingly international profile of new Indian independent cinema.

Ankhon Dekhi will be shown at Not Just Bollywood at Home Manchester

Ankhon Dekhi will be shown at Not Just Bollywood at Home Manchester

Ankhon Dekhi + Q&A – Wednesday 20 September, 18:10
Director Rajat Kapoor/IN 2013/107 mins/Hindi wEng ST/CTBA
Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa, Rajat Kapoor
The multi-talented actor, writer and director Rajat Kapoor’s idiosyncratic masterpiece is one of the key works of the new Indian independent cinema. A heady mix of Bergman, Fellini and De Sica, this semi philosophical comedy about family, self-identity and existentialism features a career defining performance by Sanjay Mishra. Also featuring a memorable score by Saagar Desai and lyrics by the talented Varun Grover, the film received widespread critical acclaim on its release. In 2014, it won three Filmfare awards, Indian cinema’s premiere awards ceremony, including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Story. Ankhon Dekhi was the first film to be produced by Manish Mundra.

Event: Actor, writer and director Rajat Kapoor will join audiences for a post-screening Q&A. Kapoor has worked across the spectrum of Indian cinema, appearing in hugely popular crossover Indian films such as Mira Nair’s multi award winning Monsoon Wedding, the much-loved comedy Bheja Fry with Vinay Pathak (2007), while also starring in popular Hindi cinema such as the recent Karan Johar produced Kapoor and Sons with Alia Bhatt. He trained at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India and was taught by illustrious filmmakers Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahani. Kapoor made his acting debut in Kumar Shahani’s Khayal Gatha in 1989. His directorial output includes Private Detective: Two Plus Two Plus One (1997), Raghu Romeo (2003) and Mithya (2008).

The Cinema Travellers – Sunday 24 September, 16:00
Directors Shirley Abraham, Amit Madheshiya/IN 2016/96 mins/Hindi and Marathi wEng ST/CTBA
One of the most critically acclaimed documentaries to have come out of India in years, Amit Madheshiya and Shirley Abraham’s stirring elegy is a semi-observational portrait of the travelling cinemas of India, uncovering an unforgettable subterranean sub-culture of dreamers, cinephiles and projectionists. The work also depicts the transition from celluloid to digital and the inescapable anxieties associated with this technological leap of faith. Moreover, Madheshiya and Abraham’s eye trains itself on capturing the idiosyncrasies of the ways in which audiences behave and watch films, leading to some rapturous images cinema gazing. The Cinema Travellers has won numerous prizes at various film festivals including most notably The Golden Eye (Special Mention) at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, The Young Critics Choice Award at The Mumbai Film Festival 2016 and the Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards in 2017.

Court + Panel Discussion: India’s Independent Cinema – Past, Present & Future – Tuesday 26 September, 17:50
Director Chaitanya Tamhane/IN 2014/116 mins/Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi and English with partial Eng ST/Cert PG
Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni
An astonishing directorial debut, this skilfully scripted docu-fiction political melodrama from Chaityane Tamhane won a major prize at the Venice Film Festival. Taking a pointed look at the contradictions of the Indian legal system, Tamhane uncovers a prescient story about Mumbai’s invisible underclass in which an aging folk singer emerges as an unlikely source of socio-political resistance. The film took three years to make and was supported by the Hubert Bals Fund of International Film Festival Rotterdam. Court was met with universal critical acclaim on the film festival circuit and is one of the best films to emerge from the recent wave of independent Indian films.

Event: This screening will be followed by an informal panel discussion with Naman Ramachandran, film journalist, screenwriter and producer, Ashvin I. Devasundaram, Lecturer in World Cinema at Queen Mary, University of London, and author of India’s New Independent Cinema: Rise of the Hybrid, and Roy Stafford, freelance lecturer and writer, exploring Indian independent cinema.
When Disney Motion Pictures announced they were pulling out of India in 2016, it also signalled the demise of UTV Motion Pictures, a production arm that had been behind some of the most successful Indian independent films of recent years. Beginning at the end of the noughties, Indian independent cinema has emerged as a creative force, making its presence felt on the film festival circuit. This panel will attempt to take stock of the shifts, trends and themes that have characterised the contemporary distribution-exhibition landscape of Indian independent cinema in the UK and beyond.
Supported by the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) and The University of Manchester.

Kothanodi – Saturday 30 September, 18:00
Director Bhaskar Hazarika/IN 2015/120 mins/Assamese wEng ST/CTBA
Seema Biswas, Asha Bordoloi, Pradhan Dewri
Based on Assamese folk tales, this debut feature is an impressive supernatural, horror compendium. Focusing on the lives of four women, connected by motherhood, the nightmarish anxieties of the women are hauntingly depicted against the mystical, pastoral landscapes of Assam. Director Bhaskar Hazarika has a wonderful pictorial eye, evoking a magical realism, staging much of the action in the rich and beguiling sceneries of Majuli and Dergaon, superbly photographed by Vijay Kutty. Indie actors Seema Biswas and Adil Hussain appear in supporting roles. Given the slim film output and lack of cinemas in Assam, the budget was successfully raised through a crowd funding initiative and the film provides a rare glimpse into Assamese folk culture.
Event: This screening is introduced by Alexandra Delaney, Birmingham City University.

Speaking of Not Just Bollywood taking place at home, Omar Ahmed commented,“I am delighted that HOME and the Film Hub North West Central (BFI) have given me the opportunity to curate Not Just Bollywood, a formidable season of independent Indian films. Many of these films have rarely been shown in UK cinemas, which makes the season altogether substantial. The season is made all the more exciting for the related events, special guests and discussion that will help to enrich what is already a diverse and dynamic film culture in the North.”