On the 70th year of Indian Independence and Partition, SACF will honour veteran Indian filmmaker, Govind Nihalani, the maker of the epic Partition film, Tamas based on Bhisham Sahni’s Hindi novel of the same name.
Govind Nihalani’s seminal films include Aakrosh (Cry of the Wounded, 1980) and ground breaking Ardh Satya (Half Truth, 1983) that became a landmark in its gritty portrayal of the nexus between Indian police and the ruling political class. The film catapulted the protagonist Om Puri to a most sought after actor for the Indian new wave as well as the popular cinema.
Govind Nihalani has received six coveted National film Awards that includes best cinematography for Shyam Benegal’s Junoon, best direction for Aakrosh (1980), Ardh Satya (1983), Tamas (Darkness,1988), Drishti (1990) and Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998).
South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) has earlier honoured M.S. Sathyu (2004), Adoor Gopalakrishnan (2006), Saeed Akhtar Mirza (2008), Girish Kasravalli (2009), Gulzar (2010), Shyam Benegal (2013) and Vishal Bhardwaj (2014).
Govind Nihalani was born on 19 December 1940 in Karachi, Sindh province (now in Pakistan) and his family migrated to India during Partition. He started his career as an Assistant Cinematographer to the legendary V. K. Murthy, the cinematographer of classics like Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Pyaasa (1957) and Kagaz Ke Phool (1959).
Govind Nihalani earned his reputation as a director of photography (DOP) by filming Shyam Benegal’s early feature films like Ankur (1973), Nishant (1974), and Manthan (1975), Junoon (1977) and Bhumika (1978. He was also one of the cameramen for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1982).
Nihalani’s Party (1984), exposes the hypocrisy of Mumbai’s ideological and social elite, while Drishti (1990), written by novelist Shashi Deshpande is a study of the failing relationship of an upper-class urban couple.
After receiving SACF’s ‘Excellence in Cinema’ Award, Govind Nihalani will introduce Tamas. The screening will be followed by question and answer session with Govind Nihalani.
TAMAS (Darkness, 1987)
An epic drama set against the backdrop of riot-stricken North India on the eve of Partition in 1947. Nathu (Puri), an outcast, is hired to kill a pig, whose carcass he’s later appalled to find in front of the mosque. A riot follows and, ridden with guilt, Nathu takes his ailing mother and pregnant wife and leaves town. Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists protested against the TV broadcast of this popular work, and director Govind Nihalani was put under police protection. ‘Making Tamas was an act of faith...’ he said. ‘When Partition happened, I was a little kid but my first memory of fear, panic and blood comes from that period.’ The stellar star cast includes AK Hangal, Uttara Baokar and acclaimed writer Bhisham Sahni, on whose novel this film is based.
TAMAS, India 1987
Dir Govind Nihalani
With Om Puri, Deepa Sahi, Dina Pathak, Bhisham Sahni, Amrish Puri
298min, Video, Hindi with EST
7hrs (including 1hr interval)
The screening will be followed by a discussion in the Blue Room.