Nishant- night’s end

Nishant-Night’s End(color)

Year of release: September 6, 1975

Starring: Shabana Azmi

Smita Patil

Girish Karnad

Naseeruddin Shah

Amrish Puri

Anant Nag

Mohan Aghase

Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Satyadev Dubey

Written by: Vijay Tendulkar, Satyadev Dubey

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Edited by: Bhanudas Divakar

Running time: 143 minutes

Language: Hindi

Producer: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava

Directed by: Shyam Benegal

With Nishant-Night’s End, as his third film, Shyam Benegal raised the issue relevant with the Telangana Movement where the peasants and population revolted against the Nizam of Hyderabad, who tried to suppress the rebellion by them against the feudal lords or landlords.


Nishant is the story of a village in Andhra Pradesh where an influential and tyrannical landlord(Amrish Puri) rules the village and has three younger brothers played by Mohan Aghase, Anant Nag and Naseeruddin Shah. Vishvam(Naseeruddin Shah) unlike his brothers does not indulge in  alcohol and women and do not create nuisances for the villagers by his dictatorship and uncontrolled rule like his other brothers. He is married to Rukmani(Smita Patil) but is not very much interested in his wife but never shows it overtly. One day, a new schoolmaster arrives in the village with his wife Sushila(Shabana Azmi), and a kid. Vishvam when sees Sushila, becomes unable to take his eyes off Sushila. Sushila notices it but tries to ignore. On a fateful day, Sushila gets abducted by two brothers(played by Mohan Aghase and Anant Nag) of Vishvam. Schoolmaster when initially doesn’t get success in rescuing his wife, tries to forget the whole issue but soon, when he comes across his wife in a temple gets enraged and instigate the villagers for rebellion. As a result, one day, the whole village break into the landlord’s house and they slaughter the whole family of the landlord along with Sushila for whom the whole rebellion was carried out and the the innocent Rukmani.

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The story of Nishant is inspired by a real incident that took place in a village in Andhra Pradesh where a despotic landlord’s whole family was slaughtered by the villagers. It is based in an era when the Nizam of Hyderabad was not ready for annexation of Hyderabad. It was at this time when the peasants became rebellious against the feudalism which was being practiced hitherto. The movie has been directed perfectly by Benegal and above all, the writing of Vijay Tendulkar is so compelling here, that the violence shown in the movie doesn’t take away the real gist of the movie.


The outlook of Nishant looks very composed but it is evident that the subject of it is very depressing and disturbing. The death of both innocent Sushila and Rukmani leaves us blown away when we witness it. It was the innate ability of Benegal that the movie doesn’t go off track for even once. It is one of those movies which redefined the cinema in india.


Nishant is also a very important film as it marked the debut of many peerless actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satyadev Dubey(as a priest), who has also written dialogues for Nishant and other Benagal movies. Proper introduction of Amrish Puri to hindi cinema and recognition of Smita Patil could become possible due to this movie. Naseeruddin Shah as a coy and shy Vishvam has done wonders in this very first movie of his career.

Shabana Azmi, with her effortless persona is once again magical in this Benegal flick. Smita Patil is decent in the small role she got to play in Nishant-Night’s End. Girish Karnad, Mohan Aghase, Anant nag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Amrish Puri and Satyadev Dubey are decent in their roles and have powerfully enacted their roles.

Nishant does not have any song in it but the perfect background score of Vanraj Bhatia doesn’t leave any stone unturned.

In one word, i can call Nishant-Night’s End, perfect!

Review By: Shekhar Srivastava.

Ankur….a movie that changed the meaning of “Cinema”…


Ankur-The Seedling(color)

Year of release: 1974

Starring: Anant Nag

Shabana Azmi

Sadhu Meher

Priya Tendulkar

Kader Ali Beg

Dalip Tahil

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Written by: Shyam Benegal

Satyadev Dubey

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Kamath Ghanekar

Producers: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava: Blaze Film Enterprises

Director: Shyam Benegal

Running time: 125 minutes

Language: Dakhani

Shyam Benegal is the one filmmaker in India who altogether changed the definition of cinema in this country. Post Satyajit Ray, Gurudutt and Raj Kapoor, he was the one man who made movies on his own conditions, the way he wanted to present the subject he liked. With his debut movie Ankur-the seedling, he brought revolution in the world of Hindi cinema.

Ankur starts with the story of a wealthy landlord’s son Surya(Anant Nag), who has just completed his graduation and is married forcibly to a girl of his father’s choice, named Saru(Priya Tendulkar) and then he is sent to the village nearby to start handling the village farm of his family. Surya’s father has a mistress also named Kaushalya and an illegitimate son as well. Surya heads towards village without his wife and there he meets Lakshmi(Shabana Azmi), a maid servant who is there to look after his house in the village. Lakshmi’s husband Kishtayya(Sadhu Meher) is a deaf and mute alcoholic and they are in extremely destitute condition. Since Surya’s wife Saru is not with him, he starts feeling frustrated(sexually of course) and start getting attracted to Lakshmi. One fateful day, when Kishtayya gets caught stealing toddy, he faces ignominy by Surya and depart secretly as is unable to face the humiliation. Now, Surya who started flirting with Lakshmi many days back gets success in his plan and they sleep together for a night.


Saru arrives few days later and she detests the presence of Lakshmi in her house because “Lakshmi was a dalit“; but the clear reason was the rumor that she had heard about her husband and Lakshmi. Meanwhile Lakshmi gets pregnant with Surya’s child and one day, Saru exiles Lakshmi from her house eventually in the name of pilfering. Many days later, Kishtayya returns with his alcoholic habit left behind and with money he had made somehow. Lakshmi gets dazed and feels extremely guilty as she thinks that she has betrayed her husband. Kishtayya in order to again start a job of riding bullock cart, approaches Surya and carries a stick in his hand. Surya under false impression thinks that Kishtayya is coming for a revenge and punishes him with a scourge. Lakshmi comes to defend her husband and curses Surya and then returns with her husband.


In the very last scene a child standing there witnessing all the drama there, throws a stone at the window glass of Surya’s house and movie ends there.

Ankur, basically has a very complex theme to deal with and one thing which enhances the beauty of this complexity is an adept direction of Shyam Benegal. Benegal has dealt with stratified theme here and has emerged victoriously. The basic subject which Ankur deals with is the exploitation of the proletariat by the property-owning parochial class, whether it is in terms of economic or sexual exploitation. But it would be a crime here not to notice the multifaceted subject of the film which has exposed the rampant social evils in the society.

  • Polyamory(of Surya’s father of keeping mistress).
  • Alcoholism, especially in the case of underprivileged section of the society.
  • Marriage at early age.
  • Sexual exploitation of women who belong to backward classes.
  • Uncontrolled behavior of rich towards poor.

Points mentioned above are clearly shown and magnificently woven in the story by Benegal.

Ankur not only marked the debut of Shyam Benegal but it was also the first release of Shabana Azmi and introduced Anant Nag to Hindi cinema.

Hey friends, I have written my debut novel, “The Monsoon Marigolds”! read it and show me some love! 🙂 It will be very special for me!

Anant Nag played the role of a young son of a landlord brilliantly. The role of Surya who is interested in further studies and not marriage and the frustration of being helpless in front of his father to raise his voice has been portrayed very realistically by him. His sexual urge which makes him approach Lakshmi for physical gratification and then spurning her like a coward has been played so well by Anant Nag that one can never imagine any other actor in that role no matter who that actor is. With his dynamic performances like this one, he is considered as one of the finest actors Kannada cinema has ever produced.


Shabana Azmi today needs no introduction but this movie came when she was a novice but with this very first movie, she boldly and beautifully made a statement how prolific actor she is. Role of a dalit Lakshmi who sleeps with her landlord and respects her husband a lot at the same time has been played by her very well. Not only her voice and dialogue delivery but the expressions and eye movements she made in this classic leaves the viewer spellbound. No wonder she bagged many national and other award in the later years of her career and still is considered as the first choice for “parallel cinema”.


Sadhu Meher who had done many movies earlier( a masterpiece and unforgettable classic like Bhuvan Shome) played the role of a deaf and mute alcoholic so well that we can’t ask him more. His role of absent or lost minded Kishtayya who steals toddy and is unafraid of the repercussions and the way he doesn’t pay heed to her wife’s warning of the probable consequences is something too difficult to play for any mediocre but he left no stone unturned and did his utmost to do the justice to his role and shows which league of superlative actors he is from.


Ankur also marked the debut of actor Priya Tendulkar(best known for her eponymous role in the television series Rajni) who later established herself as a fine and decent actor.

Coming to the direction, Shyam Benegal who taught at Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) for ten years before making his debut in movies shows how great his aesthetic sense is and that he has taught many super talented actors of our country. The sensitive and burning issues prevalent in the society are interwoven in the movie by him in a perfect manner. But one scene which stood out was the very last scene in which a small boy throws a stone at the glass window of the landlord’s house and runs away. This one scene speaks a lot. It symbolically indicates that the time has come to root out the hypocrisy and exploitation caused by the upper class and its a time for rebellion and no one is going to tolerate this tyranny anymore. This scene happens just after Lakshmi curses Surya and raises her voice against his cruelty. Similarly, the baby that she had wished for in the beginning was in her womb and it was the symbol of the new beginning…and hence….Ankur-the seedling.

Hey friends, I have written my debut novel, “The Monsoon Marigolds”! read it and show me some love! 🙂 It will be very special for me!

Ankur is a very important movie and has played a crucial role in changing the scenario of hindi cinema. It came at the time when commercial movies were the only movies that makers would make. With his first few movies like Ankur(1973), Nishant(1975), Bhumika(1977) and Manthan(1976), Benegal introduced a new genre in India called the “middle cinema”. Before Ankur, no one dared making a movie like Ankur which was so bold in nature and treatment alike. Benegal paved the way for the actors or makers who wished to be associated with something more realistic and not only dancing around trees in the name of cinema. He eventually did it and introduced to the world some magnificent actors the world had not seen by then and could probably not see without him, like Naseeruddin Shah,Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and many more.

Hey friends, I have written my debut novel, “The Monsoon Marigolds”! read it and show me some love! 🙂 It will be very special for me!

Review by: Shekhar Srivastava.

Movie review- “Bhumika-The Role”

Bhumika-The Role(color)

Date of release: November 11, 1977

Starring: Smita Patil

Amol Palekar

Anant Nag

Naseeruddin Shah

Amrish Puri

Kiran Virale

Sulabha Deshpande

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Written by: Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad, Satyadev Dubey

Story: Hansa Wadkar

Cinematography: Govind Nihalani

Running time: 142 minutes

Language: Hindi

Produced by: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava

Directed by: Shyam Benegal

Bhumika is one of my all time favorite movies or let me rephrase myself, my all time favorite Benegal movie. Bhumika was based on the autobiography of Marathi actress Hansa Wadkar who was active on Marathi screen and stage in the 1940’s and 1950’s.The movie is about searching one’s own identity which Bhumika made alive on big screen. Its about frustration of an actor and search for an inner peace by the female protagonist who in the world ruled by men tries to live with them(by making compromises sometimes)but tragically, fails all the time. It efficaciously makes us realize that the society which we live in has made rules which should not be used to judge a person on moral grounds as these rules are made just to live with ease and convenience without much mental or social disturbance in life by shunning them.

Usha(Smita Patil) is an actress who is successful on screen but a failure in her personal life and relationships.(In flashback) Usha is from a family where her grandmother was a singer from famous Devdasi  tradition from konkani background and her family(Hansa Wadkar’s family) has preserved priceless classical music throughout the years.

Since her childhood, Keshav Dalvi(Amol Palekar),who is much older than her and has done many favors to her family,behaves clumsily with her and as soon as she steps into her teenage, he convinces her to marry him. Soon after her marriage with Keshav, she realises that her husband still behave as her manager and wants her to act in movies. This is the turning point and here starts the frustration of Usha. (Coming to the present)Being a chauvinistic man, Keshav abuses Usha  verbally as well as physically even in front of their daughter Sushma(Kiran Virale), as he is under the impression that Usha and the actor Rajan(Anant Nag) are having an affair. Meanwhile, she comes across narcissistic film director, Suneel Verma(Naseeruddin Shah) with whom she plans a double suicide, but it never happens. Usha leaves the house and stays in a hotel where she meets Vinayak Kale(Amrish Puri) who takes her to his palatial mansion only to keep her as a mollycoddled mistress which the distressed Usha happily accepts to behave as. With affable relation with Kale’s wife who is confined to bed by paralysis,she enjoys her new life until she realizes that she has been confined unknowingly to this mansion and not even allowed to step outside the house. She somehow manages to call Keshav for rescue and leaves Kale’s estate only to leave even Keshav after reaching Bombay all over again. This is the end where Usha is standing in her house alone and still unsuccessful in relationships.

The story of Bhumika is inspired by the autobiography of Hansa Wadkar called “Sangtye Aika” which would publish in a Marathi magazine as a series.

This piece of writing was certainly a very candid and intrepid one by any actor.

The movie came when the feminism movements were very much active in the western countries but was looked down upon by the Indian society. The struggle of a woman for self-recognition and respect has been depicted in the movie in the era in which feminists in India were not active(movies like “Heroine”(2012) and “Fashion”(2008) came decades after this marvellous piece of work). Bhumika, interestingly raises the topic very well that a man in the society(patriarchal one) is recognized and known by his work, but on the contrary, women are always judged on the success and failures of the relationships they have been involved in. This parameter for judging both men and women has been carved out in the movie so subtly and at the same time so clearly that it makes Bhumika the one movie of its own kind and probably the first of its kind. The movie also shows how a women should be ready to be left alone if she is willing to gain her independence which is not the case in the independence of a man.

Smita Patil, with the intensity and pitch that she has used in this movie has made it one of the best and most brilliantly played role by her in her lifetime. Her transformation from a vivacious teenager to a middle aged nonchalant woman left viewers speechless when it came on silver screen but what really is magnificent is the conviction with which she has played the role of a women screaming loudly deep inside her weeping heart for the recognition and love that she has always wished for but has never got.

And it is this conviction that makes Bhumika a benchmark or anthem for feminism in Indian cinema. Bhumika no doubt is one of her best works or as many believes, her best work till date and Bhumika could never be the way it is without this beautiful and flair actress named Smita Patil.

Amol Palekar as Keshav Dalvi will make you hate him in this movie. Now you can understand how convincingly he must have played the role of a man who cannot live without the monetary support of her wife and brazenly abuse and torture her mentally as well as physically. He gets into the skin of Keshav’s character as a man who lusted after Usha since her childhood and the husband who asks his wife to abort their unborn child. It is impossible to believe that he is the same actor who has played the role of a meek gentleman in so many other movies. It is the one movie which is totally different from the filmography of Palekar. Keshav’s shameless attitude has been portrayed very well by him and this prolific actor will always be remembered for this benchmark.

Anant Nag, who previously did a remarkable collaboration with Benegal in movies like Ankur(1974) and Nishant(1975), did a masterly portrayal of a heartthrob Rajan who is in love with Usha but never gets success in getting the same response from her for some unknown reasons not shown in the movie.

Naseeruddin Shah, as usual did a remarkable job as a filmmaker who is excessively interested in the admiration of his own abilities and leaves us impressed.

Amrish Puri, has done a great job as an understated Vinayak Kale. His cold and stern dialogues which leaves Usha dumbstruck are worth mentioning here. He has a small role to play but he can surely impress everyone with his role in the movie.

Summing up my views on this masterpiece by Benegal, I can say that there is a parallel cinema and then there is a cinema which redefines the parallel cinema with a movie like Bhumika-The Role. Feminism which was an indolent thing in the 1970’s has been discussed in it, decades before the makers started discussing it in their movies. Every aspect of Bhumika-The Role is great whether it is the music of maestro Vanraj Bhatia or cinematography by Govind Nihalani and writing by Girish Karnad and Satyadev Dubey.


Baaju re mondar baaju re-Saraswati Rane, Meena Fatharpekar

Ghat ghat mein ram ramaiya-Firoz Dastur

Mera ziskila balam na aya-Preeti Sagar

Meri zindagi ki kashti tere-Chandru Aatma

Saawan ke din aaye sajanwa aan milo-Bhupinder Singh, Preeti Sagar

Tumhare bina jee na lage ghar mein-Preeti Sagar

Review by: Shekhar Srivastava