BFI LFF: The Hungry (2017)

The Hungry intriguingly updates Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus to India’s modern-day elite.

Blood Complex

by Alexa Dalby

The Hungry

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

This glossily made UK/India co-production shows a side of the sub-continent that we don’t often see. Shot like a commercial for excess, it’s bathed in clean white light (by DoP Nick Cooke) and pared-down lines. It’s set in the luxury of a billionaire’s mansion, the actual location being a historic fortress north of Delhi. Adapting Shakespeare’s seldom-performed bloodthirsty revenge tragedy, its screenplay by writer and director Bornila Chatterjee (Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining) transposes the characters into the spectacular world of the Indian super-rich. Other credits go to writer/producers Tanaji Dasgupta and Kurban Kassam.

Its star is celebrated actress and author Tisca Chopra, who plays a mother, the Indian equivalent of the vengeful Tamora, Queen of the Goths in the Shakespeare play. She enters into an arranged marriage (her fiancé played by Arjun Gupta) to unite two business empires – but she does this with the ulterior motive of avenging herself on the ruthless patriarch of the other family (Naseeruddin Shah, Monsoon Wedding), whom she believes is responsible for the murder of one of her sons (Suraj Sharma). His daughter Loveleen (Sayani Gupta) and her financé (Karan Pandit) also fall victim to the inter-family feud. Antonio Aakeel plays her other, London-based son, who arrives for the wedding, and is unsuspectingly involved in the bloodthirsty machinations. Neeraj Kabi is the inscrutable éminence grise relied on by both families and servant Meena (Savita Rani) plays an unexpected role.

Although it is sumptuous to look at – albeit also extremely gory at times – with its multiple double-crosses and betrayals, and multi-character settings focused on two celebrations, New Year and a wedding, the narrative can sometimes be confusing and the melodrama can seem exotically over the top.

The Hungry screens at the 61st BFI London Film Festival on 7 and 8 October 2017.

BFI London Film Festival 2017

1 Comment

Join the discussion