Thursday, October 27, 2005

Govind Nihalani

Govind Nihalani is one of the important names in the indian art film circuit. If satyajit ray is one extreme of the meaningful indian cinema with his simple, sensitive and beautiful movies then govind nihalani is the other end with his powerful, intelligent, brutal and hard hitting movies.

This pakistan born sindhi director who moved to india after partition, took up photography as a profession and worked with some great directors including shyam benegal and girish karnad.After a few films with shyam he started making his own movies in early 80's and caught every one by surprise with his intense and thought provoking movies. since then he has given a serious of intelligent and hard hitting movies.

But it is Sad that he has been branded as an art movie director, when his movies are more intense more meaning full and more pacy than the main stream movies.It is maybe due to the fact that hero, heroines running around the tree, funny and smiling characters were never present in his movies (at least till he switched to the commercial movie style).But this also made him stand apart as a movie maker, who made serious movies.

His characters are usually intelligent, serious, and confident and do things with a conviction. Important thing about the above statement is that it holds good for the female characters also.None of his heroines are the babes who's only purpose is to dance and make his man happy. Many a times they are part of a broken relationship but the female characters are also equally strong and intelligent as the male characters. Even villain’s are strong characters (Aashish/sadashiv),if at all if there is any as most of the time the villian is the system itself.

All his characters fall into a certain pattern. They are all morally correct in their own small world and have their own personal problems. As the movie progresses they are exposed to a bigger world which they cannot control and there starts a fight with the outside world and the inside world. And the movie becomes an account of how they cope with that new change/problem. Most of the time the characters come out stronger than what they were before, armed and fully convinced to take on the outer world..

Similarly many of his characters have a fire within themselves, an anger against society or smoother thing.Nihlani takes you on a trip of the characters mind and makes us understand the character better.The characters fights with him/herself and their efforts to better themselves are some of the fascinating aspects of his characterization. His characters asks the same questions that arises in your mind regarding the conditions in the society and becomes inspirational one and makes you stronger.

Nihlani's movies don’t belong to the category of movies that you see and forget at the end of the movie.The movie hits you hard at the end and leaves you shocked. A govind nihlani movie's effect starts only after the movie ends. Sometimes the movie disturbs you and leaves you gaping for answers. And many more questions are thrown at you through intellectual arguments of the characters. Questions that probe your moral stance and forces you to make a stance and action.
Govind nihalani in an interview:To find an answer to the issue is relevant to us. My films may not give you all the answers. But the fact is my films take a stand. They say this is the problem and as far as I think as a director this is the way out, a possible way out. Now you can agree with me, you can disagree with me. A debate can start and that is the positive outcome of any film.

His movies are intense and violent, but you dont see any gory dead bodies or violent act with of blood bath in the movie. With some brilliant use of camera, screenplay and direction, he creates this bloodless violence.Lamps and various light sources are used on the characters to enhance the emotions.Also his screenplay focuses on the mental violence than the physical violence that happens to his characters and he uses the most dangerous weapon of all, fear, against his main characters.

Many of his works are adaptation of literary works.He has worked with peoples like vijay tendulkar(aakrosh/ardh satya), Mahesh Elkunchwar(party),manjula padmanabhan(deham),Federico García Lorca(rukmavathi ki haveli),Bhisham Sahni(Tamas), Henrik Ibsen(Jazeere) , August Strindberg(pita) and the jnanpith winner maheshwata devi(haazar chaurasi ki maa).And also his intellectual characters discuss about various writers like Federico García Lorca, Rushdie, naipaul, mayakovski etc.

In the later part of his career he started to make main stream movies like dev and thakshak. It is a shame that he had to go the mainstream way to get the attention that he deserved. These two movies are far away from his earlier master pieces, they didn't have the fire that his earlier movies exhibited. Main stream actor/actress with their mediocre performance and nihalani's intention of showing things beautifully rather than his usual powerful character portrayal made them one among the rest of the main stream movies. But Nihalani's lack of experiences with the masala elements like songs showed itself, when the sleepy ajay devagan turned the song 'kamosh raat', a soulful & enjoyable melody of loneliness into a song of someone enduring acute pain with his expressions.

Reviews here at alternate movie
Ardh sathya
Drooh Kaal
Hazar chaurasi Ki Maa

Also check out shades of govind nihalani

Other Links
Govind Nihalani personal website

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