Festival puts India in spotlight

Students and academics took part in a new film festival celebrating Indian culture and heritage.

The Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries took place throughout the city from 6 – 11 September.

The programme – featuring film premieres, documentaries and post-screening discussions – was organised by PhD student Piyush Roy.

Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries

Talk with Indian star

One of the festival highlights included a question and answer session with Indian film star, Om Puri OBE.

The acclaimed actor took part in a discussion with Festival Director Piyush Roy following a showing of Bollywood film Aastha: In the Prison of Spring.

Om Puri has featured in many Indian, British and Hollywood films, including the BAFTA Award-winning comedy drama East is East.

Academic insight

The University also hosted a series of independent Indian arthouse films and documentaries with insight from academic experts.

The India @ 70 Documentary programme was delivered in association with a University research project that challenges existing assumptions about 19th century Indian labour migration. The ‘Becoming Coolies’ project is led by Professor Crispin Bates, a leading expert in contemporary South Asian history.

Professor Bates introduced a screening of Black Pepper White Pepper – Stories from the Trenches – a film which highlights the contribution of more than 1.5 million Indian soldiers, who fought in the First World War.

Other attractions included a talk on traditional medicines and therapies delivered by Dr Sumeet Jain and an event exploring India’s amalgamation of cultures led by the University’s Chaplaincy.

Dr Anuj Kapilashrami chaired a discussion on identity struggles in India’s LGBT communities, following a screening of 2015 documentary, Breaking Free. 

Edinburgh and India

The University has been linked with India for nearly 250 years. Professor William Robertson, Edinburgh's Principal from 1762 to 1793 and a noted Enlightenment thinker, wrote one of the earliest European texts to focus on India - An Historical Disquisition concerning the Knowledge which the Ancients had of India.

Edinburgh’s first Indian student graduated in 1876 and by the 1920s its Indian student population was greater than that of any other UK University.

The University of Edinburgh’s India Institute and its India Liaison Office in Mumbai seek to extend the University’s relationship with India by encouraging research collaborations and academic exchanges.

In 2015, one of Bollywood’s most popular stars, Shah Rukh Khan, gave a public lecture at the University after receiving an honorary degree from the University's Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal.

We are proud to collaborate with the Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries, as part of our widespread commitment to growing partnerships with South Asia, teaching and research on the region and in recognition of the importance of film studies within the curriculum. Collectively, these staff and student-led events, underline the importance of the University’s engagement in artistic and scientific enterprise with the subcontinent,

Pankaj PankajInternational Dean for South Asia, and Director, Edinburgh India Institute.

Related links

Edinburgh Festival of Indian Films and Documentaries

Attend the weekend film premieres

Becoming Coolies project  

The India Office

Edinburgh Global

India Institute