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Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles to Open With Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Khufiya’ and Close With Varun Grover’s ‘All India Rank’

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles to Open With Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Khufiya’ and Close With Varun Grover’s ‘All India Rank’

  • The five-day event will include U.S. premieres of legendary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary “The World is Family,” and “The Golden Thread” by Nishtha Jain.

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is gearing up for its 21st edition starting next week with 24 narrative features, documentaries and shorts from 13 countries and in 14 languages. The festival will open on Oct. 11 with the world theatrical premiere of Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Khufiya,” based on the novel “Escape to Nowhere” written by a former Chief of Counter Espionage agent Amar Bhushan. “This riveting espionage thriller follows operative Krishna Mehra (Tabu) whose dangerous mission leaves her juggling between her dual identity as a spy and a lover,” says the film’s synopsis on the festival website. The film also stars Ali Fazal, Wamiqa Gabbi and Azmeri Haque Badhon. 

The five-day festival will also host “an exclusive masterclass” by Bhardwaj where the renowned film director, screenwriter, music composer, and producer “will dive into his filmmaking journey and multi-faceted creative process across disciplines,” according to IFFLA. He is known best for his canny adaptations of Shakespeare to the Indian reality with “Maqbool” (2003), “Omkara” (2006), and “Haider” (2014), and having recently adapted Agatha Christie in “Charlie Chopra” (2023), Bhardwaj will also “discuss his book to screen transitions, and will delve into the impact music has on film,” IFFLA said. 

All India Rank” by writer, filmmaker, comedian, and lyricist Varun Grover will close the festival, with his “charming coming-of-age dramedy which follows a turbulent year in the life of fresh-faced Vivek as he preps for India’s toughest undergrad exam at a coaching center far away from home.” Grover will be in attendance opening the evening with an exclusive stand-up performance.

“We are thrilled to enter IFFLA’s third decade offering a unique and much-needed platform for emerging South Asian storytellers, and bringing a highly curated program to Los Angeles audiences,” said IFFLA executive director Christina Marouda.

Six feature films will have major premiere screenings at the festival. Atul Sabharwal will debut his world premiere of “Berlin,” a spy thriller mystery set in the early ‘90s in Delhi starring Rahul Bose, Aparshakti Khurana, and Ishwak Singh. 

The two films are making their North American premieres. Dark supernatural tale “Rapture” by Dominic Sangma, is a Garo language film set in a remote Meghalayan community where a Christian pastor desperately struggles to maintain his grip over his congregation. “Aattam” (The Play) by Anand Ekarshi is “a scathing Malayalam chamber drama starring Vinay Forrt, about the havoc that ensues amidst a twelve-man theater troupe when their sole female member is groped by one of her colleagues.”

Making its LA premiere is the action-packed “Joram” by Devashish Makhija which boasts a cast of A-listers that includes Manoj Bajpayee in the leading role, as well as Tannishtha Chatterjee, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, and Smita Tambe. “This adventure thriller follows a young couple who has fled their tribal battleground for a peaceful life in Mumbai when a ruthless shadow from their past shows up at their slum and sends them clinging for dear life.”

IFFLA will host the U.S. premieres of two documentary features: “The World is Family” by legendary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, described as “his most personal film to date, that pays tribute to his parents whose lives were closely linked with India’s independence movement”; and “The Golden Thread by Nishtha Jain, “a lyrical homage to one of the last remaining jute mills in West Bengal, once home to the world’s largest jute industry, now ravaged by mechanization.”

See Also

Of the 16 short films presented in the festival’s main competition lineup half of them are U.S. productions, including three world premieres including Sushma Khadepaun’s “Places I’ve Called My Own”; Jhanvi Motla’s “Mirage”; and Aleem Hossain’s “On the Blue Table.” Other highlights include: Vibirson Gnanatheepan’s “Anushan” from France; Bangladeshi documentary “Fantasy in a Concrete Jungle” by Mehedi Mostafa; Director Guild of American student winner “Men in Blue” by Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda; Reema Maya’s “Nocturnal Burger” and “Running,” a playful hybrid documentary written and performed by Danny Pudi and directed by Arpita Mukherjee, that follows Pudi as he sets out to uncover the story of his late estranged father.

Seven features and 16 shorts will compete for the Grand Jury Prize Awards, which will be announced by the Jury members during the awards ceremony at the closing night gala, along with the Audience Choice Awards. Jury members include actor Karan Soni, journalist and film critic Bilal Qureshi, and screenwriter and associate director Utkarshini Vashishtha (Feature Film Competition); and journalist Priya Arora, writer and director Geeta Malik, and Los Angeles Times film critic Katie Walsh (Best Short Film Competition). 

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