Mani Kaul passes away
A graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Kaul was among the most well-known names of the group of films and filmmakers that constituted the Indian New Wave that flourished mainly in the 1970s. Kaul’s films are remembered for their deliberation on concepts of space and time and also movement.
His films, Uski Roti (1969), Ashadh Ka Ek Din (1971) and Duvidha (1973) won the Filmfare Critics Awards while Siddheshwari (1989) won the National Award for Best Documentary.
I first met Mani Kaul in 2007 when he was working with the Film House at Osian’s. He spoke to me about his time at FTII and the influence of his teachers on his life and work. We met again in 2009 when he invited some film studies students to organise small events around specific films during the Cinefan film festival. He emphasised on the need for a newer perspective on cinema, something he felt was still in early stages in India. He discussed the kinds of films that had been invited to the festival and the kinds of events we could plan around them. He wanted us to watch the films, speak to the directors, the cinematographers and others and talk to them about the process, about technology, finances, exhibition etc and be able to put the process across to those who came to attend these event. While he was the Festival Director that year, he took time to attend each of the small events we had planned, be they interviews or group discussions.
In the course of our discussions, he told us that after a gap of nearly a decade, he was planning to work on a film again, this time on filmmaker Roberto Rossellini. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer soon after and he never got the chance to get back behind the camera.