Kiren Jogi | Actress and producer

“London is a hub for the world”

She was born in Birmingham but moved to Bombay with the aim of making it big in Bollywood. Now she returns with her own production outfit, the Indian London Film Company, through which she aims to link both worlds. We interview her in London.

Text: Lucía Martín | Photos: Carlos Luján | Video: Kreativa Visual

e are in the Southbank Centre, one of Britain’s most dynamic centres for the arts. Today it is buzzing with energy. Tonight are the BAFTA awards, and the elegance and glamour of the occasion pervade the whole city, not unlike the Cannes Festival, which Kiren Jogi attended in 2008 for the showing of Veiled Existence. In that movie she played the the part of an Indian woman who has settled in the UK. In real life Kiren did the opposite: she left England for Bollywood. Her debut in the world’s largest cinema industry was in Ghajini (2008), the Hindi remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. She turned it into the box office hit of the year in India. Following that, shootings of her films have taken her to Istanbul, Bangkok, Singapore and Paris.
From the terrace of the Southbank Centre we can see Big Ben, the London Eye and Parliament. Kiren tells us that in the afternoons this roof garden fills with the City’s beautiful people enjoying a mojito on the lawn. It isn’t the typical London afterwork scene, better known for pints in the pub than rooftop gardens, but anything goes here. The city has many faces, as does Kiren Jogi. She is actress, director, producer and scipt writer. Currently she is fully occupied with a TV series that parallels her life: an English actress of Indian origin directs a Bollywood production in England. “It’s partly autobiographical, but I’m not quite as crazy as she is”, she explains with a laugh.
The fusion of the two worlds has marked her career. Her production firm, Indian London Film Company, has the same mix of cultures. “It’s the perfect match of East and West in a marriage that neither partner could reject” it states. For Kiren Jogi, London represents the polygamous version of this perfect match. “Here it’s the fusion of East with West, America, India, Europe, China. . . it’s a laboratory of the world”. To come to understand this multicultural London, she knows exactly what has to be done: “Travel. Spend a day to get to know outer London. There you will get to know small cities and people who have come from all over. You will know a city of the world”.
This is what most fascinates her about the country’s capital. “London as a city inspires any creative person. There are people from all parts and the place is alive with energy. From the monuments and tourist spots, its arquitecture and theatres, to a small café in a side street”. To the left, there is classical London with its monuments, the London that fascinates tourists of all nationalities. To the right, sophisticated London, with its art galleries and designer skyscrapers. We put her on the spot and ask her to choose one shot that captures the essence of changing, bubbling London. “I would say South Bank represents the best full description of the city: cosmopolitan, traditional, cultured, and full of vitality… Here you have the National Theatre, views of Parliament and the tmajor ourist spots. All in one place”.
Woody Allen also chose the south bank of the Thames for Match Point, and the actress Katrina Kaif walks barefoot over Millenium Bridge in Namastey London. London is chosen as the setting for thousands of films every year. From classics such as Notting Hill or Bridget Jones to the latest from Gerard Butler with Morgan Freeman, London Has Fallen. And it isn’t only Hollywood. The UK capital is a favourite setting for directors of Bollywood films in Europe. For Kiren, the reasons are self evident: “When you film in London, especially a Bollywood movie, it is always a love story. The city has this taste of freshness and vitality, of falling in love”.
For Kiren, London has been a long-term love affair. She lived here during the production of Anita and Me at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. “To be part of something like that in the heart of the world of theatre was a fantastic experience. London has always been ‘that place’. From the moment you step into the Underground, theatre is at the centre of it all. There are posters everywhere announcing the shows, from the small to the large scale productions”. The same was true in the West End where we went after the interview. The sun gave no quarter, but the smile never left Karin’s face. “It isn’t as hot as in Bombay”, she says as she sips an iced coffee.

She still travels frequently to Bombay, but while she is in London she always goes to Southall. “It’s like the mini-India of London”. When we ask her for the most authentic Indian restaurant she confesses amid laughter that she still hasn’t found one (even though there are over 9,000 Indian restaurants in the UK, two for every Chinese restaurant). But she throws out a hint: Broadway Street in Southall. “If you walk down that street, you can try jalebis, a typical Indian sweet, and you can find all the tastes of Bombay, Delhi or the Punjab”. For a creative person like Kiren, food too is a source of inspiration. “Anything that comes along my path is inspiration”. And even more so in London.

Useful adresses
Beldevere Road, London SE1 8XX
Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN
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