Shyam Benegal

Shyam Benegal's contribution to the Hindi New Wave cinema is remarkable. Most of his earlier films were artistically superior and commercially successful. He introduced some of the most talented artists to Hindi films including Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Smita Patil and Amrish Puri. Benegal's first film Ankur narrated the Indian rural life, and the feudal system which enveloped it. His later films Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika and Junoon added strength to the New Wave cinema movement in India.

During the 1980s, when Indian New Wave cinema witnessed a collapse, Benegal turned his attention to an upcoming mass media, the television. He produced the teleserial Bharath Ek Khoj for Doordarshan, based on Jawaharlal Nehru's 'Discovery of India'. Which even after two decades stands as one of the best teleserials produced in India.

In the early 90s, he returned to feature films and made films like Suraj Ka Saatwaan Ghoda and Samar.



Notable Films:

Ankur - 1973 - Hindi
(The Seedling)

Set in a feudal background of rural India, Ankur tells the story of a newly-married urban youth, Surya who is sent alone to his rural home to look after his ancestral property. There, he has an affair with Lakshmi, the young wife of a deaf-mute labourer who becomes pregnant. Believing that the child is his, Lakshmi's husband goes to the landlord, but is beaten up by him. Lakshmi then turns to her former lover. In the last scene, a young boy throws a stone at the landlord's house and then the screen turns red.

Direction & Screenplay: Shyam Benegal
Cast: Anant Nag, Shabana Azmi, Sadhu Meher, Priya Tendulkar
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Vanraj Bhatia



Nishant - 1975 - Hindi
(Night's End)

A poor schoolmaster and his young wife come to a village dominated by a villainous family of zamindars, consisting of four brothers. They abduct and rape the schoolmaster's wife. The distraught schoolmaster with the help of an old priest finally succeeds in mobilising the villagers and slaughters the oppressors.

Direction: Shyam Benegal
Screenplay: Vijay Tendulkar
Cast: Girish Karnad, Shabana Azmi, Anant Nag, Amrish Puri, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Vanraj Bhatia



Manthan - 1976 - Hindi
(The Churning)

Manthan was produced by 5,00,000 farmers of Gujarat who were the members of the National Dairy Development Board. The film tells the story of the early years of the organization when corrupt local politicians and middlemen exploited the farmers. When the new officer of the organization arrives, the villagers overcome the corrupt politicians and middlemen and create local co-operatives.

Direction: Shyam Benagal
Screenplay: Vijay Tendulkar
Cast: Girish Karnad, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Anant Nag
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Vanraj Bhatia



Junoon - 1978 - Hindi
(Possessed)

Junoon is a love story set in the time of the 1857 'Mutiny'. Javed Khan is a Pathan whose wife has not yet borne a child. Javed falls in love with an Anglo-Indian girl, Ruth, who lives with her mother. During the attack on the English during the 'Mutiny', Javed takes the women under his protection. His family's objection makes it impossible for him to marry an 'English' lady. In the end, Javed is killed and Ruth returns to Britain.

Direction & Screenplay: Shyam Benegal
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Jennifer Kendall, Naseeruddin Shah, Nafisa Ali
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Vanraj Bhatia



Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda - 1992 - Hindi
(The Seventh Horse of the Sun)

In Allahabad, UP, every evening, the bachelor Manek Mulla tells stories to group of friends gathering at his house. Over two evenings, he tells three stories, apparently about his own boyhood, adolescence and adulthood. Each centres on a relationship with a woman and they rehearse the notions of romance, love and separation. After the stories, the friends discuss them.

Direction: Syam Benegal
Screenplay: Shama Zaidi
Cast: Amarish Puri, Neena Gupata, K K Raina, Pallavi Joshi, Raghuvir Yadav
Cinematography: Piyush Shah
Music: Vanaraj Bhatia



Mammo - 1994 - Hindi

Mammo, evicted from her marital home at Lahore arrives at Bombay to live with her sister and orphaned grandson, Riyaz. Arriving on a temporary visitor's visa, she tries legally as well as through bribery to convert the visa into a permanent one, trying to assert her right to stay on as an Indian national.

Direction: Shyam Benegal
Screenplay: Khalid Mohamed
Cast: Farida Jalal, Surekha Sikri, Amit Phalke
Cinematography: Prasann Jain
Music: Vanraj Bhatia



Filmography:

  • Ankur (1973)
  • Charandas Chor (1975)
  • Nishant (1975)
  • Manthan (1976)
  • Bhumika (1976)
  • Kondura (1977)
  • Junoon (1978)
  • Kalyug (1980)
  • Aarohan (1982)
  • Mandi (1983)
  • Trikaal (1985)
  • Antarnaad (1992)
  • Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda (1992)
  • Mammo (1994)
  • Hari Bhari
  • Sardari Begum
  • Zubaida (2000)



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