Friday, March 21, 2014

Premiere: Khalid Mohamed on Shyam Benegal

Khalid Mohamed (Left) with Shyam Benegal

The Master: Shyam Benegal premiered to a packed audience at Mumbai’s Asiatic Society of India, yesterday (March 20).  This is a feature length documentary by Khalid Mohamed, a personal tribute of gratitude and thanks to his mentor in filmmaking.

It’s a definitive work going into Benegal’s early years but, importantly, into the inspiration and drive that make him  and his films what they are today  -  his upbringing and inborn love of filmmaking, his years in advertising in Mumbai and, finally, about the birth of a star in India’s filmmaking firmament.

The personal touch comes in when Khalid Mohamed confesses that, in his younger days, he was driven by purist cinema and therefore dismissive of Benegal’s style. He apologizes now, saying that he later saw the range and merit of Benegal’s distinctive work.  Khalid has written the stories and screenplays of three Benegal films, all based on Khalid’s own family: Mammo (based on his grandmother and her sister), Sardari Begum (based on a cousin of his mother’s) and Zubeidaa (based on Khalid’s mother).

Two years in the making and self-funded, Khalid’s documentary  looks at Benegal’s work from his advertising films to his features, Ankur, Nishant, Manthan and Junoon,  to the TV series Bharat Ek Khoj and Samvidhaan, a series on the Indian Constitution, currently being broadcast.

The Master has been jointly produced by Khalid and Anjum Rizvi. Among those who have worked with Benegal, the documentary features Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Karisma Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee, Om Puri, Rajat Kapur, Raageshwari Sachdev, Divya Dutta, Sachin Khedekar, Surekha Sikri, Ila Arun, Minissha Lamba, Govind Nihalani, Girish Karnad, Anant Nag, Nina Gupta, Pallavi Joshi, Vanraj Bhatia and Govind Nihalani. Reflections by Anil Kapoor, Richa Chadda and Ram Gopal Varma are in the film. The narration is by Naseeruddin Shah.

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