By: Dipu Shaw
The 3rd Anwar Jamal Kidwai Memorial Lecture was held in the Ansari Auditorium of Jamia Millia Islamia yesterday. Eminent film maker Shyam Benegal who was the chief guest on the occasion delivered the lecture on “Making the Films I have made”. Prof. Mushirul Hasan, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, delivered the key note address.

The lecture is organised every year by the Mass Communication Research Centre as a mark of tribute to its founder, the late Anwar Jamal Kidwai. The occasion too was appropriate as Jamia Millia Islamia is celebrating its 88th anniversary with the Annual Talimi Mela.

An excellent opportunity

For the students of the Mass Communication Research Centre, it was a rare opportunity to hear the seasoned filmmaker speak about his ordeals and experiences in the film-making industry. Many students of the Centre are about to join the industry by the end of this academic year and Shyam Benegal is an inspiration for most of them.

The veteran film maker who has also made more than 50 documentaries including one on Satyajit Ray and the much applauded television serial, Bharat Ek Khoj, talked on how he began his journey in the film-making business.

His inspiration

The recipient of 17 National film awards and the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award related about his visit to Kolkata in the 50s when he was a student. “When I saw Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, there was an explosion in my brain”, remembered the veteran film maker. “I saw it 12 times then and eventually ended up seeing it 26 times”.

The film made him realize that there was no need for him to follow any kind of convention that was being followed by the film makers in the country. “It had the smell of the earth and showed relationships that all of us have,” said Mr. Benegal. This probably is one reason that Benegal’s films are replete with strong social messages.

He said that the juxtaposition of the feudal and colonial set up that he grew up with also got reflected in his films. Ankur, Mr. Benegal’s first feature film, was based on a short story that he had written when he was in college. “It was a part of the change when I was growing up”, he added.

Revisiting the Indian village

Talking about his latest box office hit Welcome to Sajjanpur, the director enumerated his wish to revisit the Indian village, that had been largely neglected by Hindi films for 10 to 12 years. “But, it had to be in a form that urban people would watch it”, he enumerated. “Therefore, I chose comedy as the medium to tell the story. It could then deal with the issues of low literacy and honour killing, in an engaging fashion.