The Prague Indian Film Festival 11-16 Oct.

The Prague Indian Film Festival 11-16 Oct.

India’s films used to be dismissed in the West as being overly long, full of inexplicable dance sequences (often in Switzerland) and unabashed genre-bending. With the ever-increasing lengths of Hollywood blockbusters, the genre-bashing of commercial auteurs like Tarantino and Rodriguez, and the undying attempts to resurrect the musical, it would seem that the jaded, fickle Western audiences are inching closer to an appreciation of Indian cinema. It will be like two tectonic plates of culture crushing into each other, with America’s films having the most notoriety and reach but with India being the world’s largest producer of films, churning out thousands every year.

Those interested in taking part in such history or interested simply in brightening up the grayness of autumn with bursts of color and deep emotion will be happy to know that the Prague Indian Film Festival is playing from 11th to 16th of October in Kino Svetozor (on the corner of Václavské náměstí @ Vodičkova 41). This is the 8th year that this well-organized and sponsored festival presents a rich selection of films from all over the world’s second most populous country, featuring commercial blockbusters, independent features and documentaries.


We spoke about the festival and its program with Sangita Shresthová, one of the festival’s founders, while also being a Czech-Nepalese dancer and media artist with a Ph.D. (her dissertation is on Bollywood dance). She started the festival with Hanka Havlíkova and Radim Špaček to “create a multicultural space for us to watch and enjoy Indian cinema.” They are Indian cinema fans from different backgrounds – Hanka is an Indology scholar and Radim is a film director. Sangita described why she likes Indian cinema this way: “I have always been drawn to the intercultural, selective pastiche that has defined commercial Hindi film making.  New trends are quite easily welcomed and embraced (as long as they sell, of course). At the same time, there has always been a strong connection to India’s theatrical and performative traditions. As a dancer, I am, of course, particularly drawn to the use of dance in storytelling, something we only rarely encounter in Western cinema.”

The festival selects its program by consulting with “contacts in the film industry, artworld and academia to determine what films would work well.” For the past few years, they have also worked with a specialist curator Karan Bali ( “to access more specialized cinemas.  In the end, it all comes together in a program that we then carefully balance and supplement.”

This year, they specifically focused on expanding the scope beyond just the Mumbai-based Bollywood, which is the most glamorous and largest film producer in India, creating often-spectacular films opuses brimming with beautiful women and macho men. The film festival’s name in Czech is actually “Bollywood Film Festival” while it’s name in English has been changed to “Prague Indian Film Festival”, reflecting the highlight on pictures that represent the full tapestry of Indian film, with films from regional language cinemas (Bengali, Marathi, Tamil). Look for the romantic Tamil drama “Children” and Marathi “Harishchandrachi Factory” about the making of the first Indian film in 1913, thus beginning this soon-to-be-enormous film industry.

The festival also presents a very robust documentary film program, examining the plight of Indian farmers in “Dark Times” and telling a story of four children living in the slums of Mumbai in “Slumdog Children of Mumbai”.

Bollywood action drama fans should look for the recent boys-with-guns blockbusters “Karthik calling Karthik”, “Wanted” and “Don”.

It wouldn’t be a festival of Indian cinema without great relationship stories. “Love Aaj Kal/Love these days” is about a diasporic Indian couple living in Britain rekindling a romance.  Other romantic titles include “Honeymoon Travels Ltd”, as well as comedies “Milenge Milenge/We will meet, We will meet” and “Kambakkht Ishq/Incredible Love”.

The films present a great variety of plots and genre-mashups. There’s a comedy about cricket – (“Dil Bole Hadippa/Heart Says Hurray”), an indie drama about groom kidnapping (“Antardwand/Inner Fight”), and a comedy about suicide (“Damned Rain/Gabricha Paus”).

Classic directors  are also represented. The festival shocases Satyajit Ray’s “The Stranger” and “Enemy of the People” as well as Ritwik Ghatak’s “Meghe Dhaka Tara/The Cloud Capped Star”.

Sangita’s personal recommendations include “Gabricha Paus”, “Andtardwand”, the doc on the slumdog children of Mumbai, Bollywood’s “Love Aaj Kal” and “New York” – a drama about three young Indians who end up living in New York right before 9/11.

The full program along with show times is available at:

There are many accompanying events planned in addition to those taking place in the theater (with cooking programs and guest appearances).


Come to the legendary Bollywood Party on October 16th. It will start at 9:30 PM at Klub P.M. (Trojická 10, 120 00 Prague 2). The tickets are 150 CZK.  Party will feature DJs, a Bollywood dance workshop and show, a fashion show, followed by a dance party and video screenings till you drop. Sangita Shresthová is taking part in the festivities as a dancer. In case you were wondering, Sangita’s favorite Bollywood film is “the film classic ‘Mughal-E-Azam’, featuring the mysterious Madhubala.”  She does not really have a favorite movie star, but respects Aamir Khan “for his thought provoking work” and has enjoyed seeing Madhuri Dixit “mature as a performer and dancer.”


Arrive early! Indian culture events are traditionally well-attended in Prague. Sangita is also one of the organizers of BollyTruck and Indian Independence Day program which always draw large turnouts. A record 800 people attended the India’s 50th Independence Day celebration on Střelecký Ostrov in 1997. The film festival has regularly sold out films. 

Tickets to the shows at Kino Světozor are 120 CZK for films in the large hall, 100 CZK for features in the small hall, and 60 CZK for documentary films.


Please note that while some of the trailers do not have English subtitles, the films screened at the Prague film festival will be subtitled.

Here´s a cute music video from “Love Aaj Kal“:


A large scale number from “Love Aaj Kal“:

The trailer for “New York“:

Awesome trailer for “Wanted,” starring superstar Salman Khan:

A fascinating talk by Martin Scorsese on Satyajit Ray:

Trailer for Antardwand:

For more info go to:

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Paul Ratner

Paul is a writer and filmmaker. He splits his time between projects in the US and Czech Republic, where he co-produces the 48 Hour Film Project. Paul writes about culture, film, and technology.

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