And Now, A Film On Sudhir Mishra

Sudher Mishra
MUMBAI: Not too many Indian filmmakers have had the privilege of  documentaries being made on their lives and cinema. A highly-acclaimed film on the life and career of Satyajit Ray was made by Shyam Benegal in 1982.

Now the prolific Sudhir Mishra whose cinema has spawned generations of avant-garde films and filmmaking in this country, is the subject of a  new documentary. Entitled Bawra Mann (which is a song from Mishra’s Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi) the docu is directed by a Mishra-phile Jaideep Sarkar whose earlier  achievement in the field of bio-documentation is  a film on the Indi-rock band Indian Ocean.

Jaideep is a keen student of Mishra’s cinema . He insisted on doing the documentary in spite of Sudhir Mishra’s initial protestation.

Says Sudhir, "Initially I thought it’d be too vain for me to participate in a film on my life and work. I was petrified about Jaideep doing a  gushy take on my life and  work. But I got sucked into the project because Jaideep wanted to use my life and cinema as a window into the whole ethos that they represent. Through my cinema  and my life Jaideep will look into that entire culture of a particular kind of movie-making that I represent. What happened to my colleagues and the idealism of my cinema?"

Sudhir has been traveling back to his roots with Jaideep to shoot the documentary. "I am in Delhi right now. That’s where my formative years were spent. I consider Delhi my home in many ways."

The documentary has taken Sudhir back to his school and his school friends. "People I had not met for 20 years, places I hadn’t visited since my childhood…all these legacies of my past are being revisited. Bawra Mann is a journey of selfdiscovery of me. What I really like about is that it isn’t an exercize in narcissism. So many of my colleagues from that other kind of non-mainstream cinema are woven in my story, so we get a micro-cosmic view of the whole generation of filmmakers that came with me…Directors like me, what happened to them?"

The documentary has been in the making for a month. "We now go to my roots in Madhya Pradesh and to Lucknow which is actually where my roots are. Am I enjoying the process of reliving my life? It’s revealing and disturbing. It has made me reclaim events incidents and memories that I had long left behind."

So is it flattering to be the first Indian filmmaker since Satyajit Ray to have a film on his life?

Laughs Mishra, "I don’t think vanity is part of my personality. It’s flattering, yes. But Jaideep’s film chronicles the death of an idealism in our cinema through my life. That’s what gives it  a special fervor."