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Filmmaker K Bikram Singh dies after prolonged sickness

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NEW DELHI: Renowned filmmaker and critic K Bikram Singh, who had quit government service to take to his passion of making films, died yesterday after a prolonged liver complication.

Aged 75, Singh is survived by his wife Urmila, son Rishi and daughter Ruchi.

Born on 26 May 1938, Singh started his career in 1961 as a Lecturer in History.

He worked as a senior civil-servant with the Union Government from 1962 to 1983 in the Traffic and Planning departments of the Indian Railways, and later in the Directorate of Film Festivals as joint director and director of Film Policy in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Because of his interest in cinema, he took voluntary retirement from government service in April 1983 and became a full time filmmaker.

His interest in serious cinema goes back to the 1960s when he became a member of ‘Film Forum‘, a film society of Mumbai.

He produced ‘Andhi Gali’ by the filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta where he was also associate director.

His production ‘New Delhi Times’ starring Shashi Kapoor directed by Ramesh Sharma in 1986 was in the Indian Panorama. ‘Tarpan’ made for the National Film Development Corporation in 1995, which he wrote, produced and directed, won the Aravindan Award for debut director and was a part of the Indian Panorama.

‘Tarpan’ was shown at Moscow, Montreal, and Chicago, apart from winning an award at Cairo.

Later in 1997, he assisted Basu Bhattacharya in the making of ‘Aastha’ starring Rekha with Om Puri and Dinesh Thakur.

He has produced and directed more than 60 documentaries. Some of these have participated in the International Film Festivals, in India and abroad. A few of his well-known documentaries/TV series are ‘Contemporary Indian Painting‘, ‘Greening of Ralegan Shindi‘ (On the work of environmentalist Anna Sahib Hazare), ‘In Search of Limelight‘ (On the Junior Artistes of film industry), ‘Bonded Labour‘, ‘Looking Beyond‘ (a tourism series), ‘Satyajit Ray: Introspections‘, ‘Jhilmili Story‘ (on the empowerment of rural women) and ‘A Painters Portrait‘ (a 13 part series on contemporary Indian painters).

‘Satyajit Ray: Introspections‘ that was completed in 1990 was his personal tribute to Satyajit Ray. This has been shown in several countries including Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka, France, U.K. and U.S.A. and was in the Indian Panorama Section of India‘s International Film Festival in 1991. Museum of Modern Art, New York (MOMA) has acquired the non-theatrical rights of this film for U.S.A. and Canada.

He was also an author and a veteran film critic.

Singh had a deep interest in issues relating to environment and tourism. He made more than 20 documentaries related to environmental and social issues. Some of these are ‘Rebirth‘, ‘A Friendly Place‘ (1997) and ‘Roots of Datia‘. This film on the natural regeneration of barren land was awarded Special Jury Prize at the Romaninan Film Festival, 1998. The theme and story outline of his television serial,‘Kahin Ek Gaon‘ produced in 1995-96 was conceived by him in 1987-88 while shooting the documentary ‘Greening of Relegan Shindi‘. This deals with the environmental regeneration of a village in Maharastra, led by the well-known environmentalist Anna Saheb Hazere.

In 1988-89 he had made a 10 part series on the lesser-known destinations of tourists interest called Musafir for Doordarshan. An year later he collaborated with the well known travel writers Hugh and Collen Grantzer to make a six part series called Looking Beyond for tourism promotion for Doordarshan. He has made two films for the Department of Tourism , Govt. of India called Musafir (1992) and The Hill Trail (1993) and two films for the Department of Tourism, Govt. of Rajasthan called Mewar a Living Legend and The Desert Triangle.

During 1993-94 he researched, directed and produced a 12 part video series on the ‘Story of Indian Painting‘. This was followed by a 13 parts series called ‘A Painters Portrait‘ on 13 contemporary Indian painters. In 1997 he made an hour-long video film on ‘Glimpses of indian Painting‘ for the Ministry of External Affairs and in the same year made another hour-long film on ‘Progressive Artists Group‘ featuring Souza, Raza, Hussain, Ara, Bakre and Gade for the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). This was followed by another film for the NGMA on the art of printmaking called ‘The Art of Multiple Originals‘ in 2002 and a film on the painter K G Subramanyan called ‘A Rabbit‘s Leap In the Moonlight‘ in 2004. The critics have hailed theses films as landmark works on contemporary Indian painting.

In 1999-94 he did an eight part series called ‘Kavita Shati‘ and another four part series called ‘Kavi Aur Kavita‘ on the contemporary Hindi poets for Mahatma Gandhi Antarrastriya Hindi Viswavidyalaya. He has also made film for the the two eminent Hindi poets Kedarnath Singh and Kunwar Narain.

In 1995 he produced and dircted a telvision feature film called ‘Srijan‘ on the theme of environment and rural development. This has been shown on Doordarshan i.e. Indian national television feature film called ‘Srijan‘ on the theme of environment and rural development.

In 1997-98 he produced and directed a television series called ‘Without Malice‘ for Star TV. This is a satirical review of the history of post-Independent India (1947-1998) through published political cartoons. This series has received very wide critical notices in the press.

In 2001, he completed a video documentary on Lester James Peries, the celebrated Sri Lankan film director called ‘The World of Peries‘. Apart from exploring his work as filmmaker this film also deals with the lifelong friendship of Peries with Satyajit Ray. In the same year he made another video documentary called ‘Of Life And Death‘ for the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) that explores the meaning of life, death and immortality in contemporary times. Both these were in the Competitive Section of Mumbai International Film Festival 2002. Since then he has made two more films for PSBT ‘A Middle Class Rebellion‘ (2002) on changing values of Indian middle class and ‘Passing On‘ (2003) that deals with the problem of transmitting the folk music tradition of the Langa and Manganiyar communities of Rajasthan, to the next generation.

He was President of North India Films Association, Member Central Selection Panel for the Featdure Films for Indian Panorama Section of the Indian International Film Festival (1991), Chairman, Selection Panel for the Non-Feature Films of Indian Panorama (1992), and Chairman, Short Films Jury for the NISCORT Film Festival (1999). He was the member of the Selection Panel for films for the 8th Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation films (2004). He is a life member of Indian Film Director‘s Association, member of Indian Documentary Producer‘s Association, Western India Film Producer‘s Association and Indian Film Writers Association.

He wrote a fortnightly column on life, literature and the arts called BIMB PARTIBIMB in the major Hindi daily Jansatta. Cine Arts India Arts India was his proprietary concern for making film and video productions.

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