Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Prof.Satish Bahadur - An Appreciation

With his unique personality and teaching methods he made a lasting impression in the minds of generations of film students at the Film Institute. He opened their eyes and made them see films in a different way for the rest of their lives. People from different walks of life coming from all parts of India started appreciating films in an artistic manner through the courses conducted by him. Prof. Satish Bahadur had single handedly carved a niche in Film Studies in India and had cultivated Film Appreciation in to a separate form of art.

Prof. Bahadur started his career as the head of the department of Social Science in Agra College where he had created two film societies. Noted Film Critic Ms. Marie Seton suggested to Mrs. Indira Gandhi that the newly inaugurated Film Institute of India should have an additional department of film appreciation and further told her that the first person to be considered for the job should be none other than Prof. Bahadur.

Prof. Bahadur invented his own teaching methodology, making full use of the National Film Archive at the Film Institute. In the time to come, the format of Film appreciation created by Prof. Bahadur would become standard format for all future courses in India in Film appreciation. Along with P.K. Nair, the founder director of the National Film Archives, Prof. Bahadur for nearly twenty years toured the big and small towns in the country teaching cinema to lay audiences. Some of the young people even considered film making as a career option owing to his influence.

Prof. Bahadur receiving a Memento from Dev Anand
during the FTII 50 Celebrations, 2010

The person who made the most indelible impression on me at the Institute was Prof.Bahadur. In those days, I had a great liking for Actor Omar Sharief after viewing David Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. With his handsome looks, hair falling in his forehead and square jawline, Prof. Bahadur reminded me of the great actor Omar Sharief. His charming personality and child like enthusiasm made him the most popular person at the Institute and he was always found surrounded by groups of students.

His lectures at the class room theatre were a delight to attend and students never missed his classes. He was a chain smoker at that time and used to smoke even while lecturing at the classes. Often he will take out tobacco and paper from the pouch and roll out a cigarette while speaking and try to light it after several failed attempts. After one or two puffs it will go off and he will continue to drag at the unlit cigarette stub! His call "Ramayyan" to the projectionist to start the screening in the class room still rings in my ears even after a passage of many years.

After leaving the Institute I never had an opportunity to meet him, but I was looking forward to seeing him some time during the year long 50 th Anniversary celebrations of the Institute. The inaugural ceremony I could not attend and my good friend Sound Engineer Muralidharan had sent me some photograph, in one of which Prof.Bahadur is seen receiving a Memento from veteran Actor Dev Anand. Unfortunately Prof. Satish Bahadur passed away on Saturday,24 July, 2010 after a brief illness. He was 85.

Even after retirement, Prof. Bahadur continued to participate in seminars and wrote film analyses in academic periodicals. At the time of his death, Prof. Bahadur had just completed the editing of a book analyzing the film Pather Panchali which is likely to be released later this year.
For his lifelong work dedicated to opening new vistas in film studies, Prof. Satish Bahadur remained unrecognized by the Government, the Indian film industry and even by his former students who became eminent film personalities.

I sincerely pray for his soul to Rest in Peace and express my heartfelt sympathies to the members of the revered teacher's family.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Juniors from Motion Picture Photography

We had some very nice relationship with our junior students and especially from the Motion Picture Photography course. They often got in touch with us if they had any doubts to clear and we sought their help when we needed some still photographic prints to be made.

A.S. Kanal, K K Maitra, Sudhir Choudhary, Siba Naryana Mishra, Narayana J. Kondra, Ashok Krishna Malik and Anil Jain Satish Aima were our juniors in the First Year M.P.P. course. A.S. Kanal is now running Vikshi Institute of Media Studies at Pune and I often keep in touch with him and we met several times in Mumbai in Cinematographers Combine Programmes and in Pune at the FTII. Also I have contributed articles for "The Cinematographers Handbook" edited by him. Anil Jain Satish Aima was a very handsome guy who was mostly found in the company of acting students. Some time after the group photo of that period was put up in my blog I received a mail from Delhi, sent by Anil Jain who was happy to be taken back to those times. Though I had known Sudhir Choudhary we became thick friends only in my final year and I will write about it later.

Some of the few dayscholars from Pune attending the Institute were my classmates R.S.Agarwal, Debu Deodhar and Narayana J. Kondra from the first year. Later on while I was shooting my first Hindi film PATITA directed by I.V. Sasi in Mumbai, I needed a Focussing assistant and it was my classmate K.K. Jaiswal who suggested Kondra's name. He worked with me in that film and we didn't, have further contacts as I was mostly concentrating on Malayalam films. I happened to meet him again in Mumbai during the Cinematographers Combine Program in October, 2003. Recently I met him in June 2010 at the CAS Presentations Program organized by Cinematographers Combine at Mumbai.


Myself and Kondra at CAS

The Program was also an occassion to meet many friends from the Film Institute such as Kanal, Jaiswal etc. I also met after thirty years my senior at the Institute S.R.Krishna Murthy who had done part of the reshoot of my film PATITA in my absence at that time, while he was working with Producer Pramod Chakraborty in Mumbai.

With S.R.K.Murthy