Celebrating the non-conformist wave of cinema that was introduced by Mani Kaul, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) organised a tribute to the filmmaker who passed away due to cancer on July 6. The attendees included filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, and actors Rajat Kapoor, Mita Vashist and Jaya Bachchan, who have worked with Kaul in the past. They reflected on the vision of the director, whose 1969 film Uski Roti brought in a fresh perspective to the cinema of that era.
Talking about his collaboration with Kaul and NFDC on two films, Anurag said, “Mani and I shared a unique relationship. The two films are definitely going to be made but a timeline cannot be quoted since a lot of details need to be discussed.” In spite of Kaul being considered one of the defining filmmakers of his time, people who worked with him lamented that his work remained highly underrated and inaccessible to many. Commented Rajat Kapur, “There is nothing much that is done for these forward-thinking filmmakers and hardly anything has changed in the past years.”
However, when asked about addressing this predicament that continues to haunt the film industry even today, Nina Lath Gupta, managing director, NFDC said, “A challenge we face is the visibility of these filmmakers among the general populace and to handle this, we are contemplating options such as specialty theatres that can be helpful in making these films and artists more accessible.” Added Anurag, “NFDC recently revived the prints of two of Mani’s films which is a big step in preserving these long forgotten master pieces.”