Topmost Bollywood director to be honoured in London

South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) in association with British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank and The Nehru Centre will honour and showcase the work of Shyam Benegal in London between 9th and 11th June 2012.

Benegal is India’s most significant and internationally reputed filmmaker from Bollywood.

As the father of ‘New Wave’ Indian Cinema, Shyam Benegal is as significant as India’s most internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. His films “Nishant” (Night’s End, 1976), “Bhumika” (The Role, 1977), “Trikal” (Past Present Future, 1985), “Junoon” (Obsession, 1978) and “Zubeidaa” (2000) not only cut across audiences, but have also documented social change in India after the end of the British Raj.

His latest films: “Welcome to Sajjanpur” (2008) and “Well Done Abba” (2009) have a ring of truth and are also full of humour.

Benegal’s Cinema has impacted on Bollywood by introducing new content and raising standards. An undeniable part of his legacy is the extraordinary pool of fresh talent he has consistently introduced to Indian cinema.

Besides cinematographers and technicians working quietly behind the scenes, he has given Indian cinema powerful actors and actresses like Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Amrish Puri, and Anant Nag, to name just a few.

With a career spanning 50 years, both his documentaries and his features are the work of a highly accomplished and deeply humanitarian filmmaker. He has been unflinching in his critique of sexism and social inequality in India. Almost each of his films has won coveted National Awards.

Shyam Benegal was also given the Government of India’s highest cinema honour – the Dada Saheb Phalke Award. He recently completed his tenure as an MP in India’s Rajya Sabha, the rough equivalent of UK’s House of Lords.

All the Benegal events offer a rare and the first ever opportunity to British, South Asian and other communities to see some of his key works and to meet and personally interact with him. They are being organised by SACF in collaboration with the BFI Southbank and The Nehru Centre. Other partners include: Asian Foundation for Philanthropy, Brunel University, OXFAM and the University of Westminster.


Sat 9th June, 13:30, NFT 1

“Bhumika” (The Role) 1977. [143 mins. Hindi /Urdu with EST. PG. Dir: Shyam Benegal. With Smita Patil and Amol Palekar].

This powerful film explores the life of a Bombay film actress and was a remarkable breakthrough for character actress Smita Patil. Screen roles of virtue and self-sacrifice conflict with the reality of domestic violence, adultery and despair as the actress in the film tries to break free of family, gender and class constraints. Shot on authentic locations and using montage as well as colour tinting and contrasting film stock, this is emotionally intense visual storytelling at its best. It also provides an insight into the history of Indian cinema itself.

Sat 9th June: 16:15, NFT 1

Excellence in Cinema Award to Shyam Benegal/ In-Conversation/ Q&A

The South Asian Cinema Foundation, in partnership with the Nehru Centre, will present Benegal with an SACF Excellence in Cinema Award. Benegal and film historian, filmmaker and SACF director Lalit Mohan Joshi will chat before a live audience to unravel Benegal’s rich and eventful career with the help of clips and stills from Benegal films. It will end with an opportunity for the audience to interact with Benegal and ask him questions.

Sun 10th June: 13:00, NFT3

Bhumika Masterclass with Shyam Benegal conducted by Rosie Thomas

Attendees will be able to share the director’s view on the making of this masterpiece.  As a counterpoint to critical or academic perspectives, join this masterclass and share a film director's own insight into the making of this major work. Taking a shot-by-shot look at fragments of “Bhumika”, director Shyam Benegal will reflect on some of the key creative and practical challenges in the production process of his remarkable film. Masterclass attendees are strongly advised to make themselves familiar with “Bhumika” (screening on Sat 9 June) so as to be able to fully appreciate this session.

Sun 10th June: 17.45, NFT3

“Junoon” (Obsession), 1978. [134mins. Hindi & Urdu with EST. Dir: Shyam Benegal with Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendal, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Ismat Chugtai, Nafisa Ali].

“Junoon” means 'obsession' and it underlies this passionate, sensual and violent story set against the turbulent period of the so-called 'Sepoy mutiny' of 1857. Often considered as the First War of Independence, it still resonates in India and Pakistan today.

Casting star names include Shashi and his real life English wife Jennifer Kapoor (née Kendal). Benegal adapted Ruskin Bond's “A Flight of Pigeons” and developed a tale where an infatuated Afghan soldier, interacts with the women of an assimilated colonial family, thereby dividing loyalties and challenging connections between coloniser and the colonised.

Mon 11th June: 18:30, Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London W1K

Phalke Memorial Lecture: “New Indian Cinema Circa 2012” by Shyam Benegal. Later, Benegal will open SACF’s Shyam Benegal Exhibition curated by Dr Kusum Pant Joshi with Uttara S. Joshi. [FREE].

For further information
South Asian Cinema Foundation, London

BFI, Southbank, London

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