Mani Kaul
Rabindranath Kaul [1]

(1944-12-25)25 December 1944
Died6 July 2011(2011-07-06) (aged 66)
Occupation(s)Film director, film academic
Known forUski Roti, Duvidha, Siddeshwari

Mani Kaul (25 December 1944 – 6 July 2011) was arguably the greatest Indian director of Hindi films and an influential figure in Indian parallel cinema.[1] He graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) where he was a student of Ritwik Ghatak and later became a teacher. Starting his career with Uski Roti (1969), which won him the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie, he went on to win four of them in all. He won the National Film Award for Best Direction in 1974 for Duvidha and later the National Film Award for his documentary film, Siddheshwari in 1989.[2]

Early life and background

Born Rabindranath Kaul, in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in a Kashmiri Pandit family,[1][3] Kaul first joined FTII, Pune as an acting student and later shifted to the direction course, where noted film director Ritwik Ghatak was a teacher, graduating in 1966.[4][dubiousdiscuss]

He was the nephew of actor-director Mahesh Kaul, who made films like Raj Kapoor starrer Sapno Ka Saudagar (1968).[4]


His first film Uski Roti (1969) has been described as "one of the key films of the New Indian Cinema or the Indian New Wave".[4][5] It marked a drastic departure from earlier Indian cinema technique, form and narrative. It was one of the early formal experimental films in Indian cinema.

Ashadh Ka Ek Din (1971), his next film, was based on a play by Mohan Rakesh.

Duvidha, his third film, was his first in colour. It grew out of a short story by Vijaydan Detha and tells the story of a merchant's son, who returns with his new bride. When he departs on a business trip, a ghost falls in love with the wife. It was widely shown across Europe. He was awarded the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1974.[6]

Kaul was one of the co-founders of the Yukt Film Co-operative (Union of Kinematograph Technicians) in 1976, leading to avant-garde films. Critics[4] opined in "Mani Kaul's cinematic conception, fiction and documentary films have no clear demarcated dividing line." He also taught music in the Netherlands, and was Creative Director of the film house at Osian's Connoisseurs of Art, Mumbai.

In 1971, he was a member of the jury at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

He was a visiting lecturer at Harvard University for the 2000–2001 school year.[8]


Mani Kaul died on 6 July 2011 at his home in Gurgaon, near Delhi, after prolonged battle with cancer.[3][9][10] He is survived by two sons and two daughters.[1]


According to a tribute[10] from Prabha Mahajan on the Indian documentary film discussion network Docuwallahs2 [2], Mani Kaul's significant body of work included both feature films and documentaries. In an interview Mani stated: "The dividing line from my films and documentaries is thin. Some of my films like Siddheshwari are like poetic documentaries." Mani Kaul's fellow alumni from FTII intend to put together a collective tribute to Mani Kaul and his work, and interested persons were invited to send in their thoughts on Mani as a film maker, teacher/ mentor, colleague, and as a person.

Indian film critic Khalid Mohamed commented,[11] "As a film director, he discussed the status of women (Uski Roti, Duvidha), crafted visually seductive documentaries (Arrival, Before My Eyes, A Desert of a Thousand Lines) and went through a spell of interpreting Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterworks. The Russian writer’s short story A Gentle Creature inspired Nazar, shot in low, chiaroscuro lighting."



National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards

Mani Kaul won Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie four times.

Mumbai Film Festival 2016

His film Idiot, which was released as a four-part TV series on Doordarshan in 1991, will be screened at the upcoming 18th edition of the Mumbai Film Festival that will take place from 20 to 27 October 2016, with the title 'Ahamaq'.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d Derek Malcolm (14 July 2011). "Mani Kaul obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Noted filmmaker Mani Kaul dead". CNN-IBN. 6 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Filmmaker Mani Kaul passes away after prolonged illness". Dainik Jagran, Jagran Post. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Profile".
  5. ^ "'Mani Kaul's films didn't come to you, you had to go to them'". Indian Express. 16 July 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Official list of Jawaharlal Nehru Fellows (1969-present)". Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
  7. ^ "Berlinale 1971: Juries". Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  8. ^ "The Harvard Crimson:: Indie Film Director to Teach VES Course".
  9. ^ "Filmmaker Mani Kaul dead". The Hindu. India. 6 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Mani Kaul no more". Docuwallahs2. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  11. ^ "The determined outsider". Deccan Chronicle. India. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  12. ^ Satah Se Uthata Admi at Cannes Cannes Film Festival
  13. ^ Mani Kaul Filmography New York Times.
  14. ^ Interview with Mani Kaul UNESCO Courier, July–August 1995.
  15. ^ [1]