The ninth annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) will feature the Los Angeles premiere of I Am Kalam, starring Gulshan Grover, and Disney’s first live action production in India and world premiere, Zokkomon, featuring Anupam Kher, heart-warming tales of two young boys’ journey of transformation. Both Grover and Kher will attend the festival.
IFFLA will lay out a feast of over 30 Indian-themed features, documentaries, and shorts showcasing thought-provoking content and avant garde cinematic style. Its highly popular Bollywood by Night series will return with full-throttle entertainers Band Baja Baaraat (Wedding Planner) and Endhiran, the original Tamil version of Rajnikant blockbuster Robot. Also included is Kiran Rao’s sensitive Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries).
IFFLA’s Industry Leadership Awards and Seminars day, featuring panel discussions on crucial industry-related topics, is an effort to strengthen the bond between the Indian film industry and Hollywood. This year, the Industry Leadership Awards will be presented to Sony Pictures Television Networks president Andy Kaplan; CEO of Multi Screen Media Private Limited Man Jit Singh; and chairman and managing director of PVR Cinemas Ajay Bilji at a luncheon.
The festival will also feature live music and dance performances presented by Rukus Avenue in the ArcLight courtyard.
The organization recently introduced a Patron Program that offers a host of privileges, including all-access passes to screenings and galas and other IFFLA events.
IFFLA founder and executive director Christina Marouda says, “Every year, our goal is to set a new standard in the quality of offerings—whether it comes to our film slate or our events—and this year is no exception. I have no doubt that our audience will relish every moment of the festival.”
I Am Kalam
Feature; Los Angeles premiere
Opening night gala
Chotu, a young boy working at a café, dreams of one day becoming educated. Chotu has been sent away by his mother to work and he has no time to go to school. Inspired by a message from President Kalam that anyone can change their destiny and their place in life, Chotu studies on his own whenever possible. Through a chance encounter, he befriends the local prince and the two secretly spend time together, planning their perfect futures. Both learn about life through the other’s very different experiences. This heart-warming tale shows how someone can work to overcome their destiny, and the obstacles that life sometimes puts in the way. Directed by Nila Madhab Panda. Hindi (English subtitles).
Feature; world premiere
Closing night gala
A heart-warming and action-packed tale and Disney’s first live action production in India, Zokkomon tells the story of Kunal, a young orphan on a journey of transformation. After being abandoned by his uncle, a heartless school master who rules their village with cunning tricks, Kunal sets out to return home. Upon reaching the village he discovers the townspeople believe him to be dead. With the help of a lonely scientist, Kunal transforms himself into the superhero Zokkomon who fights for the rights of the children and, eventually, everyone in the village. Zokkomon takes its audience on a fun-filled ride, at the same time focusing on the importance of love, respect, and believing in yourself. Directed by Satyajit Bhatkal. Hindi (English subtitles).
Documentary; world premiere
Returning to India to clean out her recently deceased mother’s home in Delhi, filmmaker Sonali Gulati regrets that she will never be able to tell her mother that she is a lesbian. Still, she wonders if her mother would even want to know. Compelled by this question, Gulati meets with closeted and openly gay and lesbian Indians and their parents. Living in a country where being a homosexual is against the law, parents and children grapple with the conflicting emotions of pride and shame. Against the backdrop of the Indian Supreme Court’s decision on Penal Code 377 that outlaws homosexuality, we meet charlatans that claim to cure the “disease” and young adults who refuse to live in the shadows. With beautiful and haunting imagery, I Am is a story from the front lines of a changing world of individuals, families, and nations choosing between love or fear. Director and produced by Sonali Gulati. English, Hindi (English subtitles).
Big in Bollywood
Documentary; world premiere
Like other actors in Los Angeles trying to make a career, Omi Vaiyda auditioned for all kinds of roles in commercials, TV, and film. When a Bollywood film came calling, he was worried his poor Hindi would sink him. It did, but the producers saw him in another role. From that audition Vaiyda was launched from relative obscurity to the heights of Bollywood stardom. His supporting role in 3 Idiots, the biggest Indian box office hit of all time, put him in the company of Bollywood stalwarts such as Aamir Khan and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and literally changed his life. In between language classes, calls to his wife back in the U.S., a press tour that routinely gathers tens of thousands of people, and award shows, Vaiyda cheerfully greets strangers on the street who know him only as the “fourth idiot.” Documented by his UC Santa Barbara college friends, we see what Bollywood stardom looks like for the new star. Funny and irreverent, Big in Bollywood is the story of what happens when the “Indian myth” comes true. Directed by Kenny Meehan, Bill Bowles. English, Hindi (English subtitles).
Ganesh Boy Wonder
Documentary; Los Angeles premiere
When Ganesh was born, his parents Krishna and Jayamma settled on his name quite easily. Not only did they pray to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, for a son, but also Ganesh the baby had a facial deformity that strangely made him resemble his namesake. Ganesh’s parents hoped a simple surgery would cure their son, however the incredible complications of his condition combined with their lack of funds seemed to doom Ganesh to a lifetime of being gawked at in the street. Hearing about the elephant-headed boy, TV reporters descended on Ganesh’s school and family. In a bizarre twist, national exposure of Ganesh’s condition and the fascination of millions around the world gave him previously unavailable treatment opportunities. The opportunities are not without complications, and Krishna and Jayamma worry about where to go and whom to trust after years of being so helpless. At the heart of Ganesh, Boy Wonder is Ganesh, a sweet boy who has been both cursed and blessed. The film captures the odd variety of suffering and generosity in life. Directed by Srinivas Krishna. Telugu, English (English subtitles).
The IFFLA will show these and approximaely 30 other films from Tuesday, April 12 through Sunday, April 17. ArcLight, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. Awards luncheon: Thursday, April 14. For a complete schedule and ticket information, go to www.indianfilmfestival.org.