Govind Nihalani

Born in Karachi in Pakistan, Govind Nihalani moved to India after partition. He studied cinematography at S J Polytechnic, Bangalore. He started his film career as a cinematographer for Hindi films including the early films of Shyam Benegal. He also did the 2nd unit work of Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. From the very first film as a director, he continues to base the plots of his films on urban crime and politics. He also made the controversial TV serial Tamas, which dealt with the hot topic of Partition.

Notable Films:

Aakrosh - 1978 - Hindi
(Cry of the Wounded)

Nihalani's first directorial venture, Akrosh was based on Vijay Tendulkar's script based on a real life incident. The protagonist, a lawyer is appointed to defend a tribal, Lahanya of murdering his wife, but refuses to speak a word. On investigation, the lawyer finds out that his wife was raped and killed by a group of businessmen and politicians during their revels. When Lahanya is allowed to attend the funeral of his father, he takes the opportunity to kill his younger sister to protect her from the fate of his wife. In the end, Lahanya gives vent to his suffering and his helpless anger with a cry of anguish.

Direction: Govind Nihalani
Screenplay: Vijay Tendulkar
Cast: Naseeruddin Shan, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Smita Patil
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Ajit Varman

Ardh Satya - 1983 - Hindi
(The Half-truth)

Anant Welankar is a sub-inspector and son of a violent cop. Desperate to arrest the gangster-politician Rama Shetty, Welankar is constantly frustrated and vents his target on less prominent targets and eventually kills a petty thief in the lock-up. He is forced to ask Shetty for protection, but ends up killing him instead.

Direction: Govind Nihalani
Screenplay: Vijay Tendulkar
Cast: Om Puri, Amirish Puri, Naseerudin Shah, Smita Patil
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Ajith Varman

Party - 1984 - Hindi

A grand party is being conducted in honour of Mr. Parwesh, who won a prestigious award for his literary work. The upper society of "intellectuals" is preparing to go to the party. They include established writers, beginners, writers-to-be, stage actors and journalists. The film develops through the hollow discussions about the meaning of existence, great ideologies etc., while they are enjoying costly drinks and food. Most of these people believe that ideologies are just good for writing and discussions but are foolish to practice them in their life. Amrith, a young poet who works for the cause of tribal people becomes the subject of their discussion. The thought of Amrith disturbs these false intellectuals and induces guilt in them. By the end of the party they come to know that Amrith was killed by police in a false encounter. The intellectuals return to their homes after the party but find it impossible to sleep even as Amrith becomes a nightmare for them.

Direction: Govind Nihalani
Screenplay: Mahesh Elkunchwar
Cast: Rohini Hattangadi, Manohar Singh, Vijay Metha, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah
Cinematography Govind Nihalani

Tamas - 1987 - Hindi
(The Darkness)

This controversial 5 Hrs TV serial about the trauma of Partition, which created major communal confrontations in Bombay and Hyderabad develops through the viewpoint of Nathu and his pregnant wife, Kammo. The film discusses the activities of all the political groups involved: the Hindu and Muslim communal forces and the British rulers.

Direction & Screenplay: Govind Nihalani
Cast: Om Puri, Deepa Sahi, Dina Pathak, Bhism Sahi, Saeed Jaffrey
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani, V K Murthy
Music: Vanaraj Bhatia

Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa - 1997 - Hindi
(1084's Mother)

Based on renowned writer Mahasweta Devi's Novel, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa is set in the city of Calcutta during the period 1970-72, when the city was in the grip of a leftist militant movement, popularly known as the 'Naxalbari Movement'.

Sujata Chatterji is a middle aged, upper middle class woman, employed in a commercial bank in Calcutta. She awakens one early morning to the shattering news of her youngest and favourite son, Brati, lying dead in the police morgue, reduced to a mere numerical Corpse no. 1084. The awakening propels her on a journey of discovery, in the course of which, whilst struggling to understand her naxalite (militant leftist) son's revolutionary commitment, she begins to recognise her own alienation as a woman and a wife from the complacent, hypocritical bourgeoisie society her son had rebelled against.

Direction & Screenplay: Govind Nihalani
Cast: Jaya Bachan, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Editing: Deepa Bhatia
Music: Debjyoti Mishra

Deham - 2001 - Hindi
(The Body)

Based on Manjula Padmanabhan's story Harvest, Govind Nihalani's latest film Deham deals with the subject of globalisation. It tells the story of a young man who signs a contract with a multi-national company. He is highly paid and the company takes care of all his and his family's needs. His job is simple, just stay in his house with good physical and mental conditions. Whenever the company needs, he has to donate his organs to them. And in turn they would plant electronic devices in place of the removed organ!

Direction & Screenplay: Govind Nihalani
Cast: Joy Sengupta, Kitu Gidwani, Surekha Sikri, Aly Khan
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: Roy Venkataraman


  • Aakrosh (1980)
  • Vijeta (1982)
  • Ardh Satya (1983)
  • Party (1984)
  • Aaghat (1985)
  • Tamas (1987)
  • Drishti (1990)
  • Pita (1991)
  • Drohkaal (1994)
  • Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1997)
  • Takshak (2000)
  • Deham (2001)
  • Dev (2004)

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