Sunday, June 11, 2017

From ‘Shyam Benegal’ by Sangeeta Datta

[interspersed with youtube videos]

Ankur won three National Awards in 1974 and 45 prizes in total in India and abroad…….. It travelled to every major international festival, but it did not get any award. It was very popular at the Berlin festival and the audiences noticed Shabana. Her photograph was published on the front page of the main newspaper in Berlin. International actors including Ingrid Bergman came up to Shabana and told her that it was one of the finest performances they had seen.

Mandi is considered by many to be Benegal’s most masterful film, a brilliantly ironic examination of middle-class notions of respectability and values, and a sympathetic inquiry into brothel life.

The media had for some time been playing up the professional rivalry between Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. ………At the time of shooting for Mandi, the tension between the two female leads was near palpable. Both had been recently cast in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth as rivals ……….In an interview, he [Benegal] ….voiced his opinion that Smita had a wider range:
Smita could play anything. She could play glamorous roles and dance. These were things she was instinctively capable of. Shabana is essentially a dramatic actress – the best of her kind. Her concentration as an actress has been on that line. Those are the parts she looks for. She may have done the running around trees – I cant imagine her doing it. But she is so confident of her position. Who is there to challenge her as a dramatic actress? She transcends all competition in that area.

Naseeruddin Shah ……[Benegal says] Whatever he does he gives it his best. His commitment to acting is total. There is no other thing on his mind except to give the best possible performance. But he does not have the sense of humour that Om Puri has. Also Om has a great deal of compassion as a human being. Naseer was too focused on his own self. Om is a more affable human being.

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