Shyam Benegal and Parallel Cinema – A Bond Which Will Never Snap background img
October 5, 2016

Shyam Benegal and Parallel Cinema – A Bond Which Will Never Snap

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A film experience consists of something that you, first of all, must enjoy. It has to entertain you whether you like it or not,… and a film that makes engagement with you at levels that brings to you, some kind of insight, into your own life, to me, is a far more valuable film”— Shyam Benegal.

The idea of making films that too parallel ones must have come to him through his photographer father, who inspired young Shyam into movies. Benegal is from a family where movies are talked about at the dining table that too at a time when the majority of the Indian households did not have a TV! At a very tender age of 12 years, Benegal created his first film, a family movie – after which there was no looking back for this maestro. He made a name for himself and awards and laurels became the order of the day for him. He was revered with awards like the Padma Shri (1976), a Padma Bhushan (1991), a Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Life Time Achievement (2005) and several national and international accreditations. However, in taking parallel cinema further to the following generations, no one has been as compelling as Shyam Benegal.

Seed of success was sown with Ankur

Ankur which was released in 1974 was a debut fictional cinema of Benegal. The movie was no doubt an exceptional work covering different issues like the inequalities of rural life, caste woefulness, the educated jobless, the Zamindari arrangement, the unlimited miseries of womanhood, and the institution of matrimony.

The extension of brilliance: Nishant

Nishant right after Ankur had a lot of similitude. In Ankur, he displayed how a woman who is subject to the most horrible ravages of an agrarian social system would yet decide to stay deeply attached to a man at the total bottom of the patriarchy. While his Nishant showed how a woman in a reasonably more contented situation could prefer a life as a kept woman in a landlord’s family.



What’s exceptional with Benegal’s work is that he proceeds to take art cinema to lofty levels, providing his audiences with a rich range of story backgrounds; from a country conventional setting in Ankur (1974) to a posh business family and its encounters in Kalyug (1981); from Junoon (1978) showing the Indian Mutiny of 1857 to Aarohan (1982) showing the Naxalite revolution of the mid 1960s. He also depicts the life of an actress in Bhumika (1977) as well as the life in a brothel and a lot more differences. And however, not any of them lack the sense that is naturally anticipated of Benegal’s productions.

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