Shyam Benegal. NIKON D70, 50 mm, f 1.4, 1/60 sec, ISO 400.
Shyam Benegal

Bombay 2008.

I met Shyam Benegal in his Tardeo office on 29 Sep 2008. Shyam Benegal is one of India's finest film makers alive. He made his best films even before I was born. When I was a kid, I had no idea who Shyam Benegal was. And then, I saw Mammo on Doordarshan .. I saw Junoon and Kalyug from my dad's VHS collection .. and The Making of Mahatma, again on Doordarshan. I remember the television series Bharat Ek Khoj and Amravati ki Kahaniyan .. part of my childhood memories. They all had one common name - Shyam Benegal. More recently, I saw Trikaal and Welcome to Sajjanpur .. and I have Ankur on the shelf.

Shyam Benegal has often worked with Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, and recently A R Rahman on his projects - all of them giants in the Indian cinema scene. Btw, Shyam Benegal is Guru Dutt's younger first cousin (and I have 6 movies by Guru Dutt on the shelf too).

I spent two hours with the guru. Meeting the master, in flesh and blood, was a dream come true for me (thanks Ram for introducing me to Shyam babu). Of all the things we talked about, let me quote on line: 'All of us are born wise .. then we get educated .. and eventually we get informed'. There is a certain depth and sensitivity to this man that is hard to describe in words.

While on cinema, some of my other favorite Indian film-makers are Sudhir Mishra, Mani Ratnam, Shekhar Kapur, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. I quite like Nagesh Kukunoor. Then there's a new breed out there - Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj and Aamir Khan. I wish I can meet Sudhir Mishra sometime. The advantage of living in Bombay is that you are just 2 degrees away from a lot of interesting people .. couple of weeks ago, I met Sumit Mullick, an IAS officer and author of just launched fiction novel Seducing Pain.