Shyam Benegal is one of the most prolific contemporary filmmakers from India's 'New Cinema', From his first film Ankur (1974) through to Zubeidaa (2000), he has explored the contradictions and tensions of a society in contradictions and tensions of a society in rapid transition, with a unique focus on the female protagonists.
Sangeeta Datta's book traces his career with its beginning in political cinema and a realistic. It shows how the struggle of women, the dispossessed and marginalized in Indian society find expression in films as diverse as Nishant, Bhumika, Mandi, Suraj Ka Satwan Ghoda and Kalyug. It traces Bengal's work with some of the biggest names in Indian cinema - Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Govind Nihalani and, more recently, Karishma Kapoor and A.R. Rahman - developing a style and ethos uniquely his. It also explains how the director's work presents both a stark contrast to Bollywood and yet contains creative continuities with commercial cinema and his distinguished predecessor Satyajit Ray.
Perhaps no other director has come close to painting such a compelling and vivid portrait of modern India.
About the Author:
Sangeeta Datta is a film historian, lecturer, critic and documentary filmmaker. She runs a London based film society 'In Focus' which promotes South Asian Cinema in the U.K. A member of FIPRESCI International, she has worked with Indian filmmakers Basu Bhattacharya and Rituparno Ghosh. She has also worked closely with the National Film Theatre, promoting Indian film programmes in London, the latest being a Tribute to Shyam Benegal in 2002.
Datta undertook a post doctoral project on Indian cinema at the University of Sussex. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Jadavpur University, Calcutta, and has taught English and Film Studies at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. A frequent cultural commentator for the Indian and British Media, Datta lives in London with her husband and two sons. Her film The Way I See It (on Indian women filmmakers) has traveled to film festivals across the world and is also part of the curriculum for Film Studies.
From the Back of the Book
'I don't know if cinema can actually bring about change in society. But cinema can be a vehicle for creating social awareness. I believe in egalitarianism and every person's awareness of human rights. Through my films I can say, "Here is the world, and here are the possibilities we have." It is difficult to define the purpose of my art... Eventually it is to offer an insight into life, into experience, into a certain kind of emotive or cerebral area.'
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