Noted filmmaker Mani Kaul passes away

NEW DELHI: Noted filmmaker Mani Kaul, who was considered one of the pioneers of new Indian cinema that emerged in the late sixties and early seventies, died here early this morning after prolonged illness. He was 67.

Kaul is survived by two sons and two daughters.

A cancer patient, he breathed his last at 1 am at his home here after he was discharged from a hospital last night, his family said.

Kaul, born in Jodhpur in Rajasthan to a Kashmiri family, was nephew of the well-known actor-director Mahesh Kaul.

Mani Kaul began his career with "Uski Roti" in 1969 which won him the Filmfare Critics Award for best film.

Ashad Ka Ek Din (1971), Duvidha (1973), Satab Se Uthata Admi (1976), Ghashiram Kotwal (1979), Dhrupad (1982), Mati Manas (1984), Siddheshwari (1989), Nazar (1989), Idiot (based on the masterpiece by Dostoeivsky) (1991) and Naukar Ki Kameez (1999) are among other films and many of them won awards. He also acted in the film ‘Saara Akash’ by Basu Chatterjee.

A graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Kaul got the National Film Award for Best documentary film "Siddheshwari" in 1989.

Maker of a large number of documentaries, he is remembered for a film on Kashmir where he flew in a large balloon over some of the most beautiful spots of the valley and filmed them. The film only had music and no commentary. It was screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival for short films in a special section on Kashmir.

Kaul also headed the Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema in 2009.

A versatile painter, Kaul was also a dhrupad singer. He was also a great teacher of the best in Indian cinema.

Renowned filmmaker Mike Pandey, President of the Indian Documentary Producers Association which earlier this year presented a Lifetime Achievement award to Kaul, described Kaul as a filmmaker with rare sensitivity.

After graduating from FTII in 1966, he along with K Hariharan and Saeed Mirza as well as some others set up the Yukt Film Cooperative in 1976.

Kaul, like Kumar Shahani, succeeded in radically overhauling the relationship of image to form, of speech to narrative, with the objective of creating a "Purely cinematic object" that is above all visual and formal.

In 1976, he was co-director, along with Saeed Mirza, K Hariharan and others--of a remarkable "avant-grade" film "Ghasiram Kotwal" in Marathi on the eternal theme of politicians conspiring to create corrupt and evil forces in order to use them against their enemies.The film has contemporary ramifications, as it explores metaphorically the "Emergency" period of the ‘70s.

The next film was "Mati Manas" (Man of Clay) made in 1985 which was above the documentary form with its powerful and refined images of the legends which explain the development of ceramic art in the sub-continent through the ages.

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