Born 18 April 1946 in Sonepat, Haryana.
A double gold medalist in Film Direction from Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, 1971. Diploma film Vilaap awarded the top prize at the first Teheran International Film Festival in 1972. Followed a flurry of awards but Teheran remains special. The jury here was headed by Satyajit Ray.
Joined FTII as Assistant Professor of Film Direction in 1974. And as Professor in 1989. The professorial designations came without a doctorate or any other kind of academic rigor; equally they came without the perks of university teachers. Travelling Indian Airlines in the early days I often felt like getting up to the serving airhostess, saying, “Please don’t drag me through mud. Going by our salary scales, I should be the one serving you!”
Never imagined staying teaching this long but ended up overseeing two generations of film students over 30 years. (I can count at least one mother-daughter and one father-son duo that have attended my classes.) Superannuated at 60 in April 2006 and shifted to Gurgaon in 2008, where I now live with my wife Indira.
Indu and I have two children, both into computers, both married and both abroad. Sonia, 33, lives with her husband Himanshu—again a computer engineer—and infant son Neel in a place known as Campbell near San Francisco. Gyan, 30, lives with his wife, Punam, a lawyer, in London. Gyan tends to be a bit of a maverick. A school drop out, he can teach qualified engineers. (We seem to have something against organized academics, the two of us.) Since her student days Sonia has routinely referred her friends to Gyan on issues of computer security. Sometimes however he can be a loose canon but that only keeps his mystique colorful and alive.
My wife and I divide our time between Gurgaon, Campbell and London. As I start this blog, we have just arrived in Campbell and plan to stay here, inshaallah, through the winter. Sonia, Himanshu and Gyan are in various ways providing technical back up but I hope, I do hope never to need Punam’s expertise. I am a compulsive pacifist and would happily retract and apologize rather than confront. Sonia’s house has been auspicious in the past. I found McFarland & Co, the publishers for my book The Pather Panchali of Satyajit Ray here. An illustrated—ink-wash, hand-drawn, 500 frames—study of that masterpiece, TPPSR is a hands-on book for students of filmmaking (as against film criticism—I hold that distinction important) and is available, rather steeply I think at $55, online. Work on my second book, another one on Satyajit Ray, stands temporarily suspended. The blog takes my fancy at the moment and I expect to feed and sustain it on a regular basis for a while.
But I am in no hurry.
Sahaj mile so doodh barobar,
Maang liya so paani;
Khainch liya so lahoo barobar,
Kahat Kabir ki baani
Receiving unasked and in grace, says Kabir, is like receiving the gift of milk. However if asked, its value turns into water. But the worst by far is receiving through coercion. Because then it would be akin to extracting blood, no less.
One Mr Desai, a singularly unassuming Dean (TV) in mid-90s, recited this couplet to me in my office one day. The profound 4-liner has since become a guiding principle of my life.