(Shyam Benegal, 1975, India, digital, 140 min.)
India’s art house boom of the 1960s and 1970s owes much to the government: many “parallel” or new wave films were funded by the state-run Film Finance Corporation, whose mission was to promote art cinema. Shyam Benegal, one of the leading auteurs of this genre, found support from the FFC for his first two films, allowing him to establish his career. For the third film—Nishant (1975)—he faced red tape, and turned to an advertising agency for money to help complete his film. The result is his most incendiary work of social realism, fiercely critical of the feudal and patriarchal oppression that was still endemic in India. It features the great stars of Indian art cinema, including Shabana Azmi, Amrish Puri, Girish Karnad, and Naseeruddin Shah, in his first role.
This film is part of the series Ministry of Light: Experimental State-Sponsored Films from India