Thursday, July 07, 2011

Mani Kaul 25 Dec 1944 - July 6 2011

Sixty six is not an age to die but then Mani Kaul the philosopher may well have disagreed. Mani Kaul was an unusual director in Hindi cinema. "He should have made films in Malayalam or Bengali," said a classmate long ago, "I wonder why he chose Hindi." Call that a back-handed compliment?  A Kashmiri Pandit who was born in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) as Rabindranath Kaul, he grew up in the Hindi belt. Throughout his childhood he was exposed to the sights and sounds of Rajasthan and sorrounding areas.

I remember interacting with him when he visited the FTII Pune in June 1991 for a screening of his documentary Siddheshwari (starring Mita Vashishtha) for those attending the Film Appreciation course.

His debut film Uski Roti (1969) brought him to the notice of critics and connoisseurs of fine cinema. This film is also well known for the fact that the legendary Malayalam director John Abraham was the Assistant Director. 

I remember seeing his film Nazar (1991)  in which a forty year old antique dealer (a role essayed by Shekhar 'Elizabeth' Kapur) is obsessed with a teenager (played brilliantly by Mani's daughter Shambhavi). I doubt anyone in the Hindi speaking areas barring cineastes remembers this 'heavy' Hindi film.

The documentary Siddheshwari on the singer - a role played by Mita Vashishtha - was exquisite and I consider myself lucky to have seen it in a hall where he was also present. The Wikipedia article on him has this quote by him 
 "The dividing line from my films and documentaries is thin. Some of my films like "Siddheshwari" are like poetic documentaries." Will Hindi cinema get another director like him? I doubt it even though there are some very promising guys there today.

In her tribute The Solitary Artist  written for Hindustan Times the critic Aruna Vasudev talks of his love of Hindustani Classical music and also of painting. According to Aruna he was about to start work on a feature film based on the book Under Her Spell by Dilip Padgaonkar on Rossellini's stay in India during the fifties when his affair with an already married Sonali Das Gupta scandalised India and Nehru (of all people) had to ask him to leave.

 Click here for the Wikipedia article which also contains plenty of links to articles on Mani Kaul.


Friday, May 27, 2011

India of the 50s

From the 50s when India was grappling with some very serious issues chief among them being procuring food for the hungry. With few cards in its hand and such few resources the only way India could establish a place for itself only through international for a like the UN. It was almost like an existential cry from India: we speak, therefore we exist! So India talked and talked and talked. Krishna Menon, did not frankly make too many friends with his endless speeches of a high-minded and scorching nature for those less enlightened than himself.
That was early Indian diplomacy...

David Malone (former Canadian High Commissioner to India)

Source here:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

World Cup Opportunists

World Cup is hurtling into a frenetic climax this week. Dhoni and may be Afridi are trying their best to ignore emotive and charged atmosphere around a game and focus on things they do every day.

Its unfortunate Manmohan Singh has found this as the time to bring back his force-shelved and pointless diplomacy to invite a few feudal elites from Pakistan pretending to be leaders of the state. Between badmouthing opposition leaders (BJP, Commies et al) and supervising looters in his cabinet, perhaps MMS is thinking of himself as another elite who is not far from a feudal "proxy" lord.

Like the warring Nawabs enjoying a game of chess after the day's bloody battle is done!

Zardari visibly chuffed, let one rotten prisoner go, while hundreds of fishermen are still lost in the dungeons.

Spare the players, please!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Pulp & Noir from Tehelka

The special annual issue of Tehelka is out. The 3rd in the series of Original Fictions. This one is devoted to Pulp&Noir. I think I missed the 2nd issue. I do remember an entry I had posted in this blog on the 1st issue.

At Rupees Twenty per copy it is a steal indeed.
Click here to access the online version.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

His Last Novel?

The Sunset Club is Sardar Khushwant Singh's sixth novel. He says that it is his last. "I am ninety six," is the main reason proferred by the man obsessed with writing who had once famously said that there is no condom for the pen.

Worth reading: The Word Become Flesh Sheela Reddy's review of the book in Outlook India (Dec 06 2010) and for something irreverent and adulatory here is Three Old Farts at Lodhi Garden by the former diplomat Bhaichand Patel (Outlook Dec 06, 2010)