Mani Kaul, one of the leading figures of India’s new wave movement of the 1970s, died on July 7 of cancer. He was 66.
Kaul was a graduate of the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India where he studied under leading Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. He made his debut with Uski Roti in 1970, which was critically acclaimed, but criticised by mainstream media for moving away from Hindi cinema’s traditional song-and-dance format.
He made 24 features, documentaries and shorts during his career including Duvidha, which won the Interfilm award at Berlin’s Forum in 1975, and Naukar Ki Kameez, which won the Netpac award at Rotterdam in 1999. Other notable films include Ghashiram Kotwal (1976), Siddheshwari (1990) and Dostoevksy adaptation Idiot (1991).
He was a member of the jury at the Berlin film festival in 1971 and was director of Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema at the time of his death.
“Generations of film makers during the 1960s to the 1980s considered Mani this iconic director, who did it his way and implicitly scorned the mediocre majority,” said Osian’s chief Neville Tuli.
India’s National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) described Kaul as a legend who would be deeply missed. He directed Uski Roti and Nazar for the NFDC and worked closely with the organisation on Ashad Ka Ek Din and Duvidha, both of which Kaul also produced.
“Mani Kaul was truly a pioneer of new Indian cinema and we deeply mourn his loss. He was a legend whose loss will be mourned by all film connoisseurs and students of cinema,” NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta said in a statement.