Shyam Benegal’s ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’ to vie at London film fest

Mumbai, Sep 15 Veteran director Shyam Benegal’s latest offering “Welcome to Sajjanpur” is set to be screened at the forthcoming London Film Festival (LFF), a UTV official said.

The movie will be screened in the competition section on World Cinema at the fortnight-long festival starting Oct 15, he added. A UTV Spotboy presentation, the LFF screening will also mark the movie’s Britain and European premiere. The film is being released in India Sep 19.

A comedy, “Welcome to Sajjanpur” is a satirical take on the reality of the contemporary rural India, especially on the government’s much-vaunted literacy drive. Shreyal Talpade, Ravi Kishen, Divya Dutta and Amrita Rao essay the key roles in the movie.

Benegal, who is better known for his thought-provoking serious movies, takes a detour and tells a light-hearted delightful tale in the movie. He recently said he was inspired to make the movie by a unit hand, a light man of his own production unit.

“Some time back the light man, who had never gone to school, got married to a girl who has some education. Since she lives in a village in UP and he in Mumbai, he would ask others to write letters on his behalf to his wife. That inspired me to weave a story around his new-found life,” Benegal said.

Commenting on the movie, UTV Spotboy’s Chief Operating Officer Vikas Bahl said: “It is the master director’s story-telling which is the highlight of the venture. It is at once poignant and hilarious.”

Some other Indian movies which are expected to make a mark in the festival include Nadita Das’ “Firaaq”, Santosh Sivan’s “Tahaan”, Ketan Mehta’s “Colours of Passion” and Shashank Ghosh’s “Quick Gun Murgan”.