Ankur (The Seedling, 1973, Dir. Shyam Benegal)
This chapter assesses Shyam Benegal's seminal Ankur (The Seedling, 1972). The emergence of state-sponsored film-making in the late 1960s with Mrinal Sen's Bhuvan Shome (1969) laid the foundations for a new cinematic discourse, giving way to the next phase in the development of Indian art cinema, dubbed by many as ‘parallel cinema’. The work of film-maker Shyam Benegal forms a major part of the parallel cinema movement, and the rural trilogy of films characterising his early work not only sympathised with the oppressed underclass but also established an influential political precedent for many of the young film-makers emerging from the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India. The chapter looks at the origins and context of New Indian cinema, as well as the definitions of parallel cinema and its importance to the development of art cinema. It also considers Shyam Benegal's authorial status, key ideological strands, and the film's role in helping to politicise cinema in India.
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