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Veteran director Shyam Benegal.–AFP file photo

LAHORE: A festival of films by celebrated Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal began here at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan auditorium on Thursday with the screening of Mr Benegal’s debut movie Ankur.

A large number of people watched the film with great interest and later asked the director questions.

The four-day festival has been organised by the Faiz Foundation Trust. This is the third visit of Mr Benegal to Pakistan. He had previously visited Lahore on the invitation of the Faiz Foundation Trust in 1993 and 1996.

During his stay in Lahore, he is scheduled to deliver lectures at the Beaconhouse National University, National College of Arts and the Lahore School of Economics besides giving interviews to Pakistan Radio, Pakistan Television and a number of private channels.

Before the screening on Thursday, Mr Benegal briefly introduced Ankur to audience and narrated the difficulties he encountered during its making. He had no funds but was bailed out by a friend. It was the very first film for the now famous Shabana Azmi and most of the crew was inexperienced.

The passion was not lacking, though, and when Ankur was released in 1973 it made a huge impact. And after making three other landmark films - Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Bhumika (1977) - Mr Benegal was credited with creating “middle” or “parallel” cinema in India. He does not like the terms himself and prefers to call his work as new or alternate cinema.

Mr Benegal was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976 and the Padma Bhushan in 1991. On Aug 8, 2007, Benegal was awarded the highest award in Indian cinema for lifetime achievement, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. He has won the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film in Hindi seven times and his work includes intricate creations such as ‘Mandi’.

Ankur (The Seedling) captures an urban youth’s affair with the wife of a labourer (played powerfully by Shabana Azmi). The woman’s eventual call to arms against the feudal system brought him criticism for using a purportedly “un-Indian” approach in his films and also for “victimizing” women. The film unquestionably had the merit of bringing the problem of feudal and patriarchal structures to the fore.

According to Ms Muneeza Hashmi of the Faiz Foundation Trust, the interest of the audience in the first film of the festival was immense. A large number of people are expected to turn up for the screening of ‘Zubaida’ at 5pm on Friday (today).

The festival will continue till Sunday.

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Comments (4) Closed

Ali abbas Oct 06, 2012 11:30am
What an ignorant comment! First of all we should learn to appreciate art from every part of the world especially from India. In some way we all have roots in India. And speaking of Indian celebrating Pakistani artists in India. Have you seen Indian movies lately? Many pakistani singer and artists work and are appreciated in India, recent example being Arif Lohar's jugni in an Indian movie. Narrow mindedness is keeping Pakistan backwards and you are contributing to this ignorance and narrow mindedness.
KhanChangezKhan Oct 06, 2012 05:59am
Why we are always publicizing and promoting Indians, Indian Artists and Indian Arts & Cultures as well as Indian products? Does anybody can say that he has seen similar promotions and advertisings in Indian Medias? This is shame for us! Allowing and screening Indian movies in our country mean giving access for promotion of their cultures and products.
Srikrishna Bhagwan Oct 05, 2012 10:37pm
Parallel Cinema existed long before Mr.Benegal made Ankur. Satyajit Ray and his contemporiries started it way back in 1950s. Girish Karnad and B.V.Karanth Re-ignited the movement with the production of Kannada movie, Vamshavriksha in 1970.
Madan Mohan Joshi Oct 05, 2012 09:34am
An institution by himself, Benegal has created a niche in the history of Indian Films. After Ankur, a wave of parallel cinema got dynamism. He was perhaps midway between parallel and the mainstream entertainment. Don't forget Sardari Begum and Zubaida both of which create a beautiful poetry on celluloid.