Mani Kaul’s debut film is an adaptation of a short story by Mohan Rakesh and is perhaps one of the earliest formal experiments in Indian cinema. Sucha Singh, a bus driver travels through the dusty Punjabi countryside, while his wife Balo spends long hours waiting for him at the bus-stop with his food packet. One day, her younger sister gets sexually molested, causing Balo to arrive late at the bus-stop with the food packet. Sucha Singh gets upset with her being late, rejects the food and drives away.
Mani Kaul (1944-2011) was undoubtedly the Indian filmmaker who, along with Kumar Shahani, succeeded in radically overhauling the relationship of image to form, of speech to narrative, with the objective of creating a ‘purely cinematic object’ that is above all visual and formal.
He was born Rabindranath Kaul in Jodhpur in Rajasthan in 1944 into a family hailing from Kashmir. His uncle was the well-known actor-director Mahesh Kaul. Mani joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune initially as an acting student but then switched over to the direction course at the institute. He graduated from the FTII in 1966.
Mani’s first film Uski Roti (1969) was one of the key films of the ‘New Indian Cinema’ or the Indian New Wave. The film created shock waves when it was released as viewers did not know what quite to make of it due to its complete departure from all Indian Cinema earlier in terms of technique, form and narrative. The film is ‘adapted’ from… read more
Like with all of Mani Kaul's films, he has this great ability to not just create films that leave an impact on you but just make you think for days about them. The usage of silences and minimalist imagery helpa to create one of the most brutal, specifically brutally honest films I've ever seen.
Throughout the film's famous preoccupation with hands, consistently the women's in the film were awaiting, serving, or listless with grief; Conversely, the men hands were always *taking*, whether it was a bottle of whiskey or a young girl's arm. In one scene, the town rake take a caterpillar and flings it into a well casually. It's something I cannot imagine any of the helpless women doing.
The ultimate film which defined and made way for art films in India. Uski Roti heavily influenced by Bresson's style of filmmaking. Filmmed in stark balck and white it was in dire need of restoration it wasn't done until late 2011 when it was shown in restored format in film festivals across India. It was also released in DVD format by NFDC which itself is a big boon.