Benegal to be conferred with Excellence in Cinema Award

London: Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal is all set to be conferred with the South Asian Cinema Foundation`s `Excellence in Cinema Award` here on June 9 in recognition of his contribution to new wave Indian cinema.

"As the father of `New Wave` Indian Cinema, Shyam Benegal`s position is arguably as significant as India`s most internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Satyajit Ray," said Lalit Mohan Joshi, SACF Director.

He said the South Asian Cinema Foundation in association with British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank and The Nehru Centre will be honouring and showcasing the work of Benegal at BFI Southbank and The Nehru Centre Between June 9 and June 11.

Benegal, 77, recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, will be sixth filmmaker to be honoured by SACF. Previous recipients of the award were M S Sathyu (2004), Adoor Gopalakrishnan (2006), Saeed Akhtar Mirza (2008), Girish Kasaravalli (2009) and poet and Oscar winning lyricist of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame, Gulzar (2010).

Joshi said that Benegal`s films such as ‘Nishant’ (Night`s End, 1976), ‘Bhumika’ (The Role, 1977), ‘Trikal’ (Past Present Future, 1985), ‘Junoon’ (Obsession, 1978) and ‘Zubeidaa’ (2000) have not only cut across audiences, but have also documented social change in India after the end of the British Raj.

"Benegal`s Cinema has impacted on `Bollywood` in terms of creating new content. An undeniable part of his legacy is the extraordinary pool of fresh talent that he has managed to introduce to the cine world," he said.

"This includes technicians and cinematographers working quietly behind the scenes, to an array of powerful and prominent actors like Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Anant Nag," Joshi said.

"With a career spanning 50 years, both his documentaries and his features are the work of a highly accomplished and deeply humanitarian filmmaker, unflinching in his critique of sexual and social inequality. Most of his films have won coveted National awards," he added.

"All Benegal events at the BFI Southbank and The Nehru Centre - conferring of SACF`s `Excellence in Cinema Award` to him, screening of two of his outstanding classic films (Bhumika and Junoon), Benegal`s Masterclass, his Phalke Memorial Lecture and SACF`s Benegal Exhibition - will provide a rare and the first ever opportunity to British, South Asian and other communities to see some of his key works and to meet and personally interact with him," Joshi said.

Benegal has made 26 fiction features, several documentaries and TV series, notably a 53-hour TV series on the History of India.

Benegal taught mass-communication techniques between 1966 and 1973 and later took an active role in shaping film education as Chairman of the Film Television Institute of India during 1980-83 and 1989-92.

As a person deeply committed to social integration in India, Benegal was part of the National Integration Council (1986-89) and the National Council of Art.

The Government of India conferred on him two of its most prestigious awards Padma Shri (1976) and Padma Bhushan (1991). He won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005 and has bagged several National film awards in his long illustrious career.

Benegal was a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) between 2006 and 2012.