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Saeed Mirza (who likes to call himself a ‘Leftist Sufi’) emerged mid-70s from Pune’s Film TV Institute and went on to become a front ranker of India’s New Cinema Movement of the times. Son of noted film writer Akhtar Mirza, Saeed’s works explore the fates of marginalised and oppressed characters set against the background of his city of Bombay, creating some memorable celluloid ‘heroes’ (Albert Pinto, Salim Langde, the Joshi couple, Naseem’s grandfather, played by no less than Kaifi Azmi) and winning several awards. When the parallel cinema ran out of steam and funds, Saeed along with classmate Kundan Shah and others went on to make one of the most successful TV serials ever, Nukkad (street corner). As one of his actors recalled “The streets have always been important for Saeed.”
Three seminal films by Saeed Akhtar Mirza will be screened over two days (see schedule below). Basav Biradar will set the context Saeed Mirza’s work and be in conversation with him on Friday, Feb 21 evening 8.30 pm. On Saturday, Feb 22, Kiranmayi Indraganti will be in conversation with Saeed on his work and the craft of filmmaking at 6.30 pm. On Sunday, Feb 23, Saeed Mirza will engage in a free wheeling chat with Aakar Patel about his writings as part of BIC Hub’ba.
|Introduction to the films of Saeed Akthar Mirza by Basav Biradar||February 21||8:30- 9:30 pm|
|Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (Don’t Cry for Salim, the Lame)|
120 mins | Hindi with English subtitles | 1989
|February 21||9:30 – 11:30 pm|
|Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (Summons for Mohan Joshi)|
130 mins | Hindi with English subtitles | 1989
|February 22||4:00 – 6:15 pm|
|Saeed Akhtar Mirza in conversation with Kiranmayi Indraganti||February 22||6:30 – 7:30 pm|
|Naseem (The Morning Breeze)|
89 mins | Hindi with English subtitles | 1995
|February 22||7:30 – 9:00 pm|
|Tête-à-tête with a Master– Saeed Akhtar Mirza & Aakar Patel||February 23||12:30- 1:30 pm|
Saeed Akhtar Mirza
Born in 1943 in Mumbai, filmmaker, screenwriter and author, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, was one of the most important directors of the Indian cinema’s New Wave in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He started his career in advertising before joining the Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune to do a diploma in direction and scriptwriting. He, along with filmmaker Mani Kaul and others started the Yukt Film Cooperative that produced his debut film Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb Dastan, (1978). The film was the story of the conflicted son of a rich businessman, dabbling in Marxist philosophy, struggling to come to terms with the rich-poor divide. The film won several awards including the Filmfare Critics’ Award for the Best Film in 1979. It also set the tone and themes explored in his subsequent filmography: social and economic inequity, class conflict, the search for ethnic identity and the growth of communalism.
He went on to win international acclaim as well as a legion of awards including six National Awards for landmark films like Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai? (1979), Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho (1983), Salim Langde Pe Math Ro (1989) and Naseem (1995). He also produced and directed television series, the most famous of which were Nukkad (1986) and Intezaar (1987), and a series of documentaries for which he travelled for months to the poorest parts of India.
In 2008, he wrote his debut novel Ammi: A Letter to a Democratic Mother. Written as an open-ended letter to his mother, he described the book as “ part essay, Sufi tale, travelogue, diatribe, film script, love story, and a combination of history and polemics also.” His second book The Monk, The Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun published in 2012 questions the foundations of Western academia and highlights the Islamic contribution and transfer of knowledge and ideas to the fledgling Western civilizations from the 8th to the 15th century.
Aakar Patel is a columnist.
Basav Biradar is an independent writer/researcher, documentary filmmaker and theatre-maker based in Bangalore, India.
His first documentary – Before The Third Bell – was the official selection for the 2018 Martin Segal Centre Film Festival on Art in New York. The film seeks to document the theatre-making processes of noted director Abhishek Majumdar through the play Muktidham. Recently, he has finished a short documentary on the history of Kolar Gold Fields.
Biradar teaches two post-graduate courses in Azim Premji University:‘India through the eyes of Parallel Cinema’, and ‘Introduction to Contemporary Theatre in India’.
He has written for several publications on theatre, cinema, travel, history and heritage conservation, including – National Geographic Traveller, Outlook Traveller, The Hindu, New Indian Express, The News Minute and The Caravan.
Besides directing several plays, he is a playwright. His first – The Return of the Sultan – a satire set in contemporary Srirangapatnam, was longlisted for The Hindu Metroplus Playwright Award 2013; currently, he is writing a play on the youth in tier-3 & -4 towns in Northern Karnataka.
Kiranmayi Indraganti is interested in film practice and histories. She holds a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Nottingham and an MFA in Film Production from York University, Toronto. She currently teaches at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. She has just completed her first feature film, an adaptation of Ibsen’s “Doll’s House.” Her earlier work includes documentaries on the community-driven work of quasi-government organisations and their development interventions. She has published non-academic and academic writings, including Her Majestic Voice in 2016 (Oxford University Press).