Dipen Guhawrote on Jul 28 2009 11:01PM
Born in Rajasthan into a family originally from Kashmir, Mani Kaul graduated from the FTII in 1966. He then along with K Hariharan and Saeed Mirza as well as some others, set up the Yukt Film Cooperative in 1976. Mani Kaul is the Indian filmmaker--along with Kumar Shahani who has succeeeded 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.
Mani Kaul's first feature film "Uski Roti" ( A Day's Bread) was released in 1969 and was one of the pivotal films of the "New Indian Cinema" and created a shock waves when it was released because of its complete departure from all earlier Indian cinema in terms of form and narrative. The whole film revolves around a minor happening in the daily life of a poor couple, composed of Balo, the silent and retiring wife of Singh, the husband who is not of the kindest disposition. The film portrays in very dignified and restrained images the state of mind of the principal protagonist, Balo.
His next two films, "Ashad ka ek Din '(A Monsoon Day) and " Satah se Uthata Aadmi"( Above the Surface) reach the limits of stylization and destruction of normal cinematic language and leave most audiences perplexed, although some critics admire these films for their audacity.
With " Duvidha "( Dilemma ) released in 1973, Mani Kaul uses colour for the first time with considerable mastery and produces a very finished and polished work based on a well-known and exquisite tale from his native Rajasthan.
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.
"The Idiot" was released in 1992 and the film was based on the masterpiece by Dostoeivsky.