Roxy Farhat & HUR

This artwork and documentary is about the youth group HUR, and the personal stories of young people living in the neighbourhood of Holma in Malmö, Sweden. Holma is mostly made up of multi-storey housing blocks, and artist Roxy Farhat has worked closely with the young people and their families to create individual portraits of their lives.

dates & times

1 July – 30 August
Open daily, 10am – 11pm
Run time: 15 minutes


Green Display Space 3 – Level 2, Royal Festival Hall

The HUR youth organisation is run by young people aged 16 to 25, and focuses on youth development and health in a neighbourhood that is often categorised by the media as ‘dangerous’. In this film, these young people define their world, challenge stereotypes and work towards bringing social change.

This film is a result of Konst Händer (Art is Happening), a programme run by Public Art Agency Sweden, with the goal of fostering artistic expression in close collaboration with civil society organisations.

Part of Nordic Matters

Part of Summertime

Biryani! What the dish means to London communities

As part of Alchemy, we have been exploring what the dish biryani means to the local community in London. A dish renowned in both Pakistan and Bangladesh, biryani has connected the diasporas of these two countries. 

As part of our youth programme, we sent a group of young filmmakers out to film individuals from these communities, asking them what biryani means to them. The result was a wonderful short film, directed by Nida Manzoor, that explores the power of food to bring people together.

The filming uncovered so many interesting stories, and here you can discover a little more about the people we interviewed.

Until Monday 29 May you can watch the film at Southbank Centre, whilst sitting around a special dining table in our installation booth.

Watch the film

Luftun Hussain – Coriander Club

In 2000, Luftun Hussain founded Coriander Club at Spitalfields City Farm. Her goal was to create a gardening and cooking club for Bengali women, so they could recreate the dishes of their homeland in a climate where many of the vegetables required were not usually grown. The project has since soared and the Coriander Club offers a safe haven for many women who have come to this country and feel isolated. The community offers them the chance to talk in their native language to women who have had similar life experiences. It is a precious chance to socialise in what is a foreign environment to them.

In the short film, Lutfun expresses how hard it was to cook biryani when she first came to England. She remembers how difficult it was to acquire some of the ingredients and spices to make this much loved dish that was a such an important lasting connection to home. Her desire to make biryani motivated her to form the Coriander Club. On the day of the shoot, she took our group of Festival Makers to the local market to buy spices, picked fresh vegetables from her garden and took them through the process of making her chicken biryani. If you’re able to come down to Alchemy, you can pick up this recipe for free in the installation space.

Abdul Shahid – Gram Bangla

Amongst the numerous curry houses and authentic South Asian markets in Brick Lane is Gram Bangla, a small Bangladeshi restaurant that you might just miss in the hustle and bustle of the street. But this is one biryani you must eat. Owner Abdul Shahid was inspired to form the restaurant after his mother moved back to Bangladesh in 1978. ‘Gram’ means ‘village’ in Bengali and his restaurant has an authentic rustic vibe. This is not a curry house targeted at a Western market. This biryani harks back to the roots of Bangladesh, bringing more of the local Bangladeshi community through the doors than tourists.

Again, biryani has connected the diaspora to their heritage and Abdul is very aware of the importance of this. Proud of his children’s achievements, he is adamant that he would be happy for them to pursue any career they wish. But through his restaurant, he has provided them with a lasting relationship to their culture, an invaluable experience many in the South Asian community struggle to create in this country.

Southall Black Sisters

Southall Black Sisters are an organisation that have brought together black and South Asian women who have been the victims of abuse. Established in 1979, this non-profit organisation has helped give sanctuary to those who have suffered from gender-related violence. The ethos of the organisation is to help women become independent and assert their human rights.

We interviewed some of the women who have been helped by the organisation and asked them what biryani meant to them. For some, coming to Southall Black Sisters was their first time eating the dish and it reminded them of finding a community in which they were cared for. For others, it was a connection to home. Biryani had brought these women together. In the film, we see a number of these women sitting around a table discussing biryani. Their solidarity is clear and is a testament to the power of food to bring people together.

Nazma and Jannah

In homes across the country, biryani continues to bring families together. We filmed Nazma, a young mother, cooking biryani with her daughter, Jannah, in their home kitchen. Food has created a special bond between them. Seeing Jannah carry in the plate of biryani, as mother and daughter sit on the floor of their apartment to eat, it is clear that in creating the dish together, the biryani they have made symbolises far more to them than just dinner. Jannah now wishes to go on to win Junior Masterchef and her mother couldn’t be more proud.

Numra Siddiqi – Empress Market

In the heart of Hackney, is new restaurant Empress Market. Chef and founder, Numra Siddiqi, talked to us about the memories she has of eating home-cooked food. She tells of how her grandmother used to tell her to place a napkin on her lap and ensure it never got dirty. This would be a sign of being able to eat gracefully with your hands. These traditions have stayed with Numra and although she doesn’t enforce these measures on the visitors in her restaurant, Empress Market is a wonderful fusion of her Western upbringing and South Asian heritage. The menu consists of Pakistani folk cuisine, Karachi street food and is accompanied by Louisiana cocktails from New Orleans.

Her unique mixing of Eastern and Western flavours show how dishes like biryani will constantly evolve with each generation, as each try new ingredients and combinations that reflect the multicultural society we live in. We’ve asked the public to come down to the installation to share their own recipes of biryani. And Numra also has her own stall, Bun Kebab, at our KERB food market where she will be selling some of her creative fusion street food.

Alchemy runs until Monday 29 May 2017. Please come down and see Biryani! and the numerous other free installations and exhibitions in our foyer spaces.

Alchemy festival programme

10 Bollywood films you need to watch

Alchemy 2017 features an exciting appearance from Bollywood music stars Vishal & Shekhar. But do you know the full story of the Hindi cinema industry? Journalist Rahul Verma selects ten great films from the past 50 years to get you started, featuring some of Bollywood’s most magical musical hits.

Bollywood is the most prolific film industry on the planet, releasing around 1000 films a year compared to Hollywood’s 500. In 2017, it’s flourishing domestically, thanks to growing audiences and the explosion in multiplexes, and as awareness grows, internationally too.

‘Bollywood’ is shorthand for Hindi-language cinema. Around for over a century, it’s one of India’s thriving film industries in myriad tongues including Tamil (Kollywood), Bengali (Tollywood), Malayalam (Mollywood), Kannada (Sandalwood), Telugu (Tollywood) and Punjabi.

Today, alongside all-singing, all-dancing family-friendly blockbusters, Bollywood also encompasses films tackling hard-hitting issues, as well as edgy independent movies.

Songs remain key to ‘super hit’ films. Beyond the box office, the barometer of a film’s success is whether songs are whistled by rickshaw wallahs, sung by taxi drivers, looped in malls and used as ringtones.

‘Filmi songs’ have been a feature of Hindi cinema since it moved from the silent era to the talkies in the 1930s. The role of contemporary composers such as duo Vishal-Shekhar (who perform at Alchemy on Saturday 27 May) and Oscar-winner AR Rahman (who played Alchemy in 2010) is as vital as ever.

Mother India (1957); director Mehboob Khan

Duniya Mein Hum Aaye Hain (Video Song) | Mother India | Nargis & Sunil Dutt

Released a decade after India achieved independence, Mother India has elements of a Soviet nation-building film, lionising the gruelling work of peasant farmers and the sacrifice of a mother in the face of wretched luck and injustice.

Radha (Nargis), who symbolizes India, single-handedly and stoically raises two sons when her husband leaves after losing his arms in a farming accident. She also has to fight off a cruel, lecherous money lender, and keep a rein on tearaway son Birju (Sunil Dutt).

Mother India features motifs which recur in Bollywood today, including tear-jerking melodrama and humour, song and dance, and in 1958 was the first Hindi film to be nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar.

Guide (1965); director Vijay Anan

Kishore Kumar | Gaata Rahe Mera Dil Tu Hi Meri Manzil

Guide is the story of unhappily married ex-dancer Rosie (Waheeda Rehman). She joins her archaeologist husband on a tour where she falls in love with the guide, Raju (Dev Anand). They move in together, and Raju encourages Rosie to pursue dancing. She becomes a renowned dancer, but his drinking and gambling takes its toll.

Guide’s portrayal of an affair and an unhappy wife leaving her husband is a classic from Hindi cinema’s 1950s and 1960s golden age. Its exquisite songs, drawing on poetry, are sung by revered playback singers Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Kumar and Mangeshkar would become the go-to duo for filmi love songs in decades to come.

Sholay (1975); director Ramesh Sippy

Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge - Sholay - 1080p - HD

This masala western consistently tops Bollywood film polls and is akin to Star Wars in the way it captivates generation after generation.

Convicts with hearts of gold Veeru (Dharmendra) and Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) are enlisted by retired police officer Thakur to capture malevolent bandit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Singh) alive.

It’s a revenge action film, incorporating romance – eclipsed by Veeru and Jai’s bromance – laugh-out-loud comedy, sensational shoot-outs, memorable songs, a tension-ratcheting score and a weepy ending.

Sholay confirmed the arrival of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, yet despite his magnetic screen presence, Amjad Khan’s sinister super-baddie Gabbar Singh steals the show. Who would win in a fight between Gabbar Singh and Darth Vader is a debate for the ages.

Mr India (1987); director Shekhar Kapur

I Love You (HD) - Mr.India

Directed by Shekhar Kapur, who would scoop a Best Film BAFTA for Elizabeth (1998), Mr India is a rare Bollywood superhero meets sci-fi film.

Big-hearted Arun (Anil Kapoor of Slumdog Millionaire and 24 fame) uses his dead scientist father’s invisibility potion to defeat evil wannabe Emperor of India Mogambo (Amrish Puri, the villain in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom). Meanwhile, journalist Seema (the magnetic Sri Devi) smells a story and falls for the invisible Mr India, which makes for unusual song and dance sequences.

In an era of macho, violent action films, Mr India channels Christopher Reeve-era Superman’s patriotism and elements of Bond (Mogambo’s lair). It strikes a feel-good, outlandish note, with Mogambo becoming an iconic Bollywood baddie.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1994); director Aditya Chopra

Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jaana Sanam

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge tells the story of brat Raj (Shah Rukh Khan, the King of Bollywood) who’s studying in Britain, and goody two-shoes Simran (Kajol).

Raj bumps into Simran when she’s holidaying in Europe before her arranged marriage, and they tumble head over heels in love in the Swiss mountains. During Simran’s wedding preparations in Punjab, Raj tries to win over Simran’s family and prove that bravery and being true to your heart can conquer all.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is arguably the most OTT romance of the lovestruck 1990s and has an earnest innocence long gone in contemporary Bollywood. Its songs have endured, ensuring its hold on India’s affections is as strong as ever – no Hindi-speaking wedding is complete without ‘Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna’.

Watch Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna

Lagaan (2001); director Ashutosh Gowariker

Chale Chalo - Lagaan | Aamir Khan | A. R. Rahman

A historical sports drama set in colonial India, Lagaan struggled to get made before successful actor Aamir Khan took a leap towards superstardom by taking it on. In doing so, he carved a niche for alternative family-friendly blockbusters with a message.

In 1890s India, a village is struggling to pay taxes (lagaan) levied by British administrators when a colonial officer challenges Bhuvan (Aamir Khan) to a game of cricket. If the villagers win, the tax is cancelled, and so a rag-tag bunch, symbolising India’s diversity, come together, learn the rules, train and take on Goliath.

Lagaan broke the mould, garnering international acclaim – it’s the third Hindi film to be nominated for the Best Foreign Films Oscar – and its box office success demonstrated that audiences were hungry for quirkier films.

Om Shanti Om (2007); director Farah Khan

Deewangi Deewangi Full Video Song (HD) Om Shanti Om | Shahrukh Khan

A rarity in that’s it’s directed by a woman, Om Shanti Om is a gloriously trippy homage to Bollywood – think Baz Luhrmann on acid. It brims with in-jokes, knowing references to classic films, and cameos galore.

It begins in the 1970s, with wannabe actor Om (Shah Rukh) determined to make it and win the heart of superstar actor Shantipriya (Deepika Padukone). The two die in a fire, but 30 years later it seems they have been reincarnated as actors Om Kapoor and Sandy.

The plot’s largely incidental to this dazzling celebration of Bollywood, which features a pitch-perfect soundtrack from Vishal-Shekhar.

Indeed, the most anticipated song of their Alchemy show is likely to be Om Shanti Om’s addictive ‘Deewangi Deewangi’, which features over 30 Bollywood stars, from the 1970s to the present, having a boogie.

3 Idiots (2009); director Rajkumar Hirani

All Izz Well [Full HD Song] 3 Idiots

This crowd-pleasing Aamir Khan comedy follows two friends as they look back on their college days at India’s top engineering university. They remember third amigo, Rancho (Aamir Khan), the free-thinking rebel who challenged authority, questioned lecturers and showed there’s more to life than acing your exams and joining the rat race.

It might be slapstick, but it deftly addresses middle-class India’s obsession with excelling in education and the intense pressure-cooker environment it places on young Indians.

These themes struck a chord in East Asia, particularly China, making 3 Idiots a rare example of a Bollywood film which has crossed over the border. It performed spectacularly domestically and among the diaspora, making it one of the top ten highest grossing Bollywood movies of all time.

Gangs of Wasseypur Part One (2012); director: Anurag Kashyap

O Womaniya Full Song Gangs Of Wasseypur | Gangs Of Wasseypur | Manoj Bajpai, Reema Sen

The opening film in Anurag Kashyap’s two-part epic gangster saga illustrates how much Bollywood’s evolved in recent years. Set in a small town in Jharkhand, it’s a gripping, twisting tale of racketeering, family feuds, revenge and political corruption, based around the coal industry.

Enfant terrible Kashyap, in a nod to The Godfather and Tarantino, liberally spatters his breathtaking canvas of the north-east outback with blood. This gruesome, guttural and bawdy film delights in being everything mainstream Bollywood is not.

Gangs of Wasseypur’s effervescent score and use of lusty folk songs add to its febrile energy. The performance of Manoj Bajpai as gangster don Sardar Khan is especially striking, as is the film’s use of strong female characters.

Sultan (2016), director Ali Abbas Zafar

Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai Song | Sultan | Salman Khan | Anushka Sharma | Vishal | Badshah | Shalmali

It’s impossible to have a Top 10 without a Salman Khan film – alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, ‘Salman bhai’ is the most bankable actor in present-day Bollywood.

Salman’s niche is uncomplicated ‘common man’ films and Sultan is the Rocky-esque story of a middle-aged wrestler who’s lost his way, and the love of his life Aarfa (Anushka Sharma). He hits the comeback trail to win her back.

A classic underdog story, Sultan is one of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all time. It features a zingy soundtrack by Vishal-Shekhar, with hit songs including ‘Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai’ (Baby loves bass) and the rousing rock of title song ‘Sultan’, which features an inspirational training montage of Sultan outrunning trains and pulling tractors.

See modern Bollywood musical stars Vishal & Shekhar

Learn how to dance like you’re in a Bollywood movie at Alchemy

Presenting The Infinite Mix artists

The Infinite Mix

The Infinite Mix, presents UK premieres of audio-visual artworks by leading international artists. Artists exhibiting are Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller with Cecilia Bengolea, Stan Douglas, Cyprien Gaillard, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Cameron Jamie, Kahlil Joseph, Elizabeth Price, Ugo Rondinone and Rachel Rose.

The Infinite Mix exhibition information

The Making of Bom Bom's Dream

The Infinite Mix - The Making of 'Bom Bom's Dream'

Exhibited as part of The Infinite Mix, Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea’s Bom Bom’s Dream (2016) follows the fantastic adventures of a Japanese dancer. The dancer known as Bom Bom travels to Jamaica to participate in the local dancehall music scene.

Here's a peek into the making of their film.

The Infinite Mix exhibition information

Micro Cinema Theatre

Film Scores Live

The Infinite Mix

The Infinite Mix. .Photo by Linda Nylind. 3/9/2016.
The Infinite Mix. .Photo by Linda Nylind. 3/9/2016.
The Infinite Mix. .Photo by Linda Nylind. 3/9/2016.
A pop-up exhibition of soulful and audacious audio-visual artworks

Pipilotti Rist: Eyeball Massage

Lobe Of The Lung, 2009 Installation View of PIPILOTTI RIST: EYEBALL MASSAGE Hayward Gallery 2011 Photo Linda Nylind
A survey exhibition exploring Rist’s immersive, innovative and site-specific video installations

Jeremy Deller: Joy in People

Jeremy Deller: Joy in People. .Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London. .Photo by Linda Nylind. 19/2/2012.
Mid-career survey of the publically engaged British artist