I’m pleased to make note here that my book ‘Shyam Benegal: Filmmaker and Philosopher‘ has been released by Bloomsbury Books. Here is the book cover and the jacket copy:
For almost fifty years now, Shyam Benegal has been a leading artistic, political, and moral force in Indian cinema. Informed by a rich political and philosophical sensibility and a mastery of the art and craft of filmmaking, Benegal is both of, and not of, the Indian film industry.
As a philosophical filmmaker Benegal brings to life the existential crisis of the downtrodden Indian, the ‘subaltern’—the landless serf, the lower caste peasant, the marginalized woman—and imposes a distinctive philosophical vision on his cinematic reworkings of literary products. Focusing on its philosophical depth, Samir Chopra identifies in this book three key aspects of Benegal’s oeuvre: a trio of films which signalled to middle-class India that a revolt was brewing in India’s hinterlands; movies which make powerful feminist statements and showcase strong female characters; and Benegal’s interpretation, ‘translation’, and reimagining of literary works of diverse provenances and artistic impulses. Running through this body of work is an artistic and moral commitment to a political realism and an intersectional feminism which continually inform each other.
In Shyam Benegal: Filmmaker and Philosopher, Chopra shows how to understand Benegal’s cinema is to understand, through his lens, modern India’s continued process of political and social becoming.