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Ronita Torcato

A little chit, a little chat, a little bit of this & that;meaning news, views & lotsa reviews from an independent journo based in Bombay aka Mumbai



'To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.' (Thomas Campbell,1777-1844,Scottish poet)

There they were, Jahnu Barua, Udayan Vajpeyi, MitaVashist,
and Siddharth
Sinha among others,going down memory lane and paying rich tribute to and
sharing their experiences of the acclaimed film-maker and  Renaissance
man, Mani Kaul inside the jam-packed
Films Division  theatre here today,

         Painter, musician, teacher and film maker whose movies have been hailed as
path-breaking formal experiments in Indian cinema,Mani Kaul is being honoured by his friends, colleagues and admirers  today, 6th
July and tommorrow 7th July, 2012 at New Delhi and Mumbai's Films
Division  for whom he made nine documentaries including the highly
regarded  Siddheshwari and Dhrupad.

The  tribute consisting of
the  two day retrospective at FD's Pedder Road theatre in Mumbai and a
day’s screening at the FD auditorium
in Delhi is open to the public.

 In Mumbai, the screenings consist of documentaries as
well 13 feature films including Uski Roti, Mati Manas
and Duvidha. In Delhi, Kaul's friends and
contemporaries;  Ashok Vajpeyi, Raman
Gurpal Singh and Gattoo Kaul and Rita Kaul (Mani Kaul’s sisters)  will recall
their association with Mani Kaul followed by a screening of his documentary
All the
films are being screened in 35mm, celluloid format. Entry to the screenings is
free. The
complete schedule is available on

 V S Kundu, Director General,
Films Division released a commemorative set of 3 DVDs containing the nine
documentary films  Kaul made for FD and a special Mani Kaul
edition of the FD magazine, Documentary
. The DVD set is
priced at  Rs. 250 while the magazine contains a clutch of tributes to Kaul as well as excerpts from a marathon interview by the Hindi poet and writer Udayan Vajpeyi. The interview has been translated into English by the filmmaker Gurvinder Singh.

"All of us miss him deeply and this special edition...reflects our feelings for him, to help keep his memories forever fresh in our minds" says Kundu,editor of the magazine, in a foreword. 

 Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in 1942 to a Kashmiri family, Kaul
graduated from the FTII ,Pune where he was a student of Ritwik
Ghatak.(From Dagarvani Master, Zia Mohiuddin Dagar who once played in
the orchestra for one of V Shantaram's films, he would learn dhrupad
which inspired him to ivent a new way of making film)  Kaul  had joined
FTII as an acting student but later switched to direction. He began his
film career with a small role in Basu Chatterji's Sara Akash and then
made his  feature film Uski Roti
(1969) There was no
looking back then. A spate of brilliant films followed, many adapted
from literary works in Hindi, art and architecture,poetry and music.

He was  especially fond of the Russian writer Dostoyevsky  and from the  art universe, Van Gogh in particular.  Duvidha
(1975)  marked his bitter separation from award-winning cinematographer
Mahajan who declined to shoot the film with the 16mm Bolex loaned by
the renowned painter Akbar Padamsee. Kaul had a family at this time and
no work and no money. Uski Roti and Ashad Ka Ek Din had not been
commercially released.  Padamsee offered his help and loaned the camera
with a zoom lens and rolls of Kodachrome film. When Mahajan refused to
shoot with what was available, Kaul decided never to work with him again
and asked Life magazine stringer Navroze Constractor to shoot the film.
Padamsee's daughter Raisa from his French wife, was cast as the
silent bride in Duvidiha which was shot in Rajasthan on a shoe string
budget. LV Prasad, owner of Prasad Film Lab in Chennai would set up an
animation film stand for Kaul  and NFDC would give him Rs 2.5 lakh to
complete the film. A tourism film, Before My Eyes was financed by the J
& K Government.

When Kaul could not get funding for his films, he turned to
teaching cinema, literature and music. Kaul's films evoke stream of
consciousness and a feeling of the sensuous, of time and of death.


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About Ronita Torcato

Torcato Agnela Ronita
An incomplete round-up of movie news, features & views from an independent journo & (dare I say it:-) film critic in Mumbai



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