As part of the UK India Year of Culture, the BFI will embark on a celebration of Indian film throughout the rest of 2017 and on May 20 film historian and SACF director Lalit Mohan Joshi and composer-singer Pandit Vishwa Prakash will be on stage exploring silent Indian cinema.
BFI’s India on Film programme, which runs at BFI Southbank from April – December 2017, will feature Music in Indian Cinema in May, with a focus on the true stars of Bollywood. The films screening in May are rooted in Indian folk song and dance, fusing poetry, music, choreography, cinematography and editing. The Song and Dance programme will open with an event that explores the history of the silent film era, moulded by pioneers like Save Dada, Hiralal Sen and JJ Madan.
The event will also include a rare screening of India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra (Dadasaheb Phalke, 1913), with live music specially written and led by composer and singer Pandit Vishwa Prakash. After India’s first talkie Alam Ara (1931), music rose to new creative heights during the 1950s and 60s. In the special event The Coming of Sound and the Golden Era Lalit Mohan Joshi (historian and director of the South Asian Cinema Foundation) will join composer Pandit Vishwa Prakash in conversation to unravel the hidden history of this highly creative period using clips and live performance.
Also screening will be Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan, 2007), a send-up of Bollywood tropes, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period film Bajirao Mastani (2015), which is replete with jaw-dropping music, dance and song sequences. Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room (1958), an exquisite elegy to the connoisseur, showed that song and dance could be integral to arthouse films too, while Tamil director Mani Ratnam’s Bombay (1995) features the musical genius of AR Rahman, who won two Oscars® for Slumdog Millionaire and also scored I Have Found It (Rajiv Menon, 2000), an eye-popping Tamil adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
India on Film continues at BFI Southbank in June with the return of the London Indian Film Festival, as well as a short focus on pioneering filmmaker Guru Dutt.