Did you know that India has a Kung Fu comedy of its own? And, no, we aren’t talking about the abomination that was Kung Fu Yoga. We’re talking about Local Kung Fu (LFK) – an independent film, which came out of Assam four years ago and had a modestly successful theatre run across the country before establishing itself as a cult classic locally in the north-eastern parts of the country. Now, Kenny Basumatary, the man behind LKF’s madness is back with a much-awaited sequel to the original, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. His latest venture, LKF 2, recently completed its successful crowdfunding campaign on Wishberry, so it’s only a matter of time before the film releases.
Small on Funds, Big on Spirit
Made on a shoestring budget of just Rs 90,000, the original received high praise for the authenticity of the action as well as its comedic chops. In fact, LKF was nominated for best feature film at the inaugural Filmfare Awards for the Eastern Region in 2013. In an interview with The Wire, Basumatary reveals the secret to the success of the first film: “I had a huge asset – a circle of friends and family adept at martial arts. So, it was only natural for me to make a martial arts film because no one in India had ever done it properly before. Although I’m not a particularly witty person, I seem to be able to put together funny moments on screen […] I put the two together and voila – an Assamese martial arts comedy was in the works!”
Fighting for a Place in the Cine World
Between the independent funding of both films and the success the original enjoyed at a local level, it’s evident that there is plenty of space within Indian cinema’s Bollywood-dominated confines for locally-made movies to thrive. This is especially true in regions that are underrepresented in our film industry – including areas such as the north east and Kashmir.
The moderate success of films such as Mumbai Cha Raja, Kshay, and Delhi in a Day, showcase the fact that there is a gap in the industry when it comes to real stories told by independent filmmakers. Film festivals across the country showcase independent cinema, which tends to remain outside the mainstream because distributors don’t think they can be marketed to a broader audience. Take the curious case of director Qaushiq Mukherjee (also known as Q), whose now cult classic, Gandu, passed between the hands of cinephiles for years before getting its first public screening in India at the Osian Film Festival in 2012, two full years after its initial release.
Hopefully, the advent of video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Hotstar and the like will give these films a chance to be seen by film buffs across the world.
In the meanwhile, the industry itself needs to become more inclusive, and can start by dismissing the notion that independent movies, with no big-name actors, is unmarketable. If the industry is to evolve, it must learn to accommodate the sort of cinema that will push at its boundaries and force it to keep up with a changing India.
In the meanwhile, we’re rooting for LKF 2. As the old saying goes, “Build it and they will come.”
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Cover Image Courtesy: Still from Local Kung Fu