Indian filmmaker Benegal in Capital

Aisha Tariq
Filed on September 27, 2012
Indian filmmaker Benegal in Capital

Legendary Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal has arrived in the Capital for a three-day event honouring his cinematic legacy.

Indian filmmaker Benegal in Capital (/assets/oldimages/film2_27092012.jpg)The Indian Film Society of the UAE (IFSUAE) will inaugurate the ‘Shyam Benegal Retrospective’ tonight, with a film screening at the Indian Embassy followed by a discussion with the director himself.

During the event, the society will screen four Benegal films that received India’s prestigious National Film Award, IFSUAE chairman Shamnad Basheer said.

The society will showcase a trilogy of Benegal-directed films written by another eminent filmmaker, Khalid Mohammed, focusing on Indian Muslim women — Zubeidaa’ Sardari Begum and Mammo.

In addition to these evening screenings, each followed by an interactive session with Benegal, the film The Making of the Mahatma will also be shown today at 10am in the Abu Dhabi Indian School.

The renowned filmmaker will inaugurate the school’s new film club, realising one of IFSUAE’s founding ambitions.

“We have a plan to go to the schools and universities to open campus film societies. We would like to showcase good Indian films to the UAE community, instead of showing the popular films which are released in the theaters,” Basheer said.

The Benegal retrospective is the second major event staged by IFSUAE, a non-profit organisation launched earlier this year. In April, the society had invited four distinguished filmmakers — Goutam Ghose, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli and Jabbar Patel — to highlight movies from different regions of India. Among such celebrities in India’s “parallel” (as opposed to popular) cinema, Benegal holds a unique place, says Basheer.

“All other filmmakers in the category of parallel cinema were making movies in the regional languages, but Benegal’s movies were in Hindi, in Bollywood itself,” he explains. “Other artistic films are seen only by the film festival circle or by the few people who are interested in good movies, but the difference with Shyam Benegal’s films is that they have been box office hits and screened across India.”

The retrospective will include a Benegal-led “masterclass” for film students and a public presentation by Dr. Anuradha Needham on her forthcoming book “New Indian Cinema in Post-Independence India: The Cultural Work of Shyam Benegal Films” at New York University in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). The Saturday morning lecture will be followed by a discussion with Benegal and Dr. Rajeswari Sundar Rajan of NYUAD.

“Benegal is one of the best Indian directors alive,” says Basheer. “If you want to know the cultural diversity of India, the real-life stories of India, the potential of Indian filmmakers, this is the opportunity.”

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