July 16 2016
Well-known director is set to talk about his career at a special programme at the London Indian Film Festival today and we look back at his some of his work and have a video clip of someone whose life he changed with ‘Bandit Queen’…
By Suman Bhuchar
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of this year’s London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) is the opportunity to hear from director, Shekhar Kapur, as it’s been a while since he made an appearance in London.
Kapur, 70, who has 1.6 million followers on Twitter, has been using his social media platforms to talk about his talented daughter, Kaveri whose single, “Did You know?” was launched on You Tube in June.
Kapur is regarded in the UK as a controversial director because of his take on the iconic British monarch, Elizabeth I (1544-1603), with Cate Blanchett in the lead as ‘Good Queen Bess’ in the films, “Elizabeth” (1998) and “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” (2007). There is also some talk about a third film, “Elizabeth: The Dark Age”.
So, the question everyone will be asking him tonight at the British Film Institute/LIFF “Shekhar Kapur: A Life with Elizabeth” is where have you been?
According to his own admissions on Twitter he seems to have become a bit of a sage and nomad, philosophising on love and humanity; globetrotting the world looking for the perfect locations, working on “Paani” his film about the scarcity of water – although that seems to be on the back burner presently – and he is about to challenge the Brits again with “Will” – a television pilot for TNT telling the story of a young William Shakespeare whose arrival of the 16th century London theatre scene changed it forever!
Kapur has been busy working in India over the last few years – he narrated and presented a TV series called, “Pradhanmantri” (Prime Minister, 2013) on ABP news telling the story of Indian prime ministers since 1947; he has since made a documentary, “The Science of Compassion” (2016) about the life of ‘Amma’, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi – the Indian and Kerala-based spiritual figure, whose way of giving compassion is by hugging people – and the film is available on Youtube.
He was also a producer for the documentary, “Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story ever Told” (2011), a celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema, and which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival that year. These are just some of the credits in the career of Kapur (a nephew of Dev Anand), who began as an actor in 1975 and then moved to directing with the film, “Masoom” (1983).
His second film was considered to be the first Hindi superhero-sci film, “Mr India” (1987) which gave rise to the quote , ‘Mogambo Khush hua’ (Magombo is happy), used by the villain, Mogambo played by the late Amrish Puri. It starred Anil Kapoor as the eponymous hero.
During the 1990s Kapur spent time in the UK presenting the Channel 4 series, “On the Other Hand” produced by Hindi Pictures. This was a panel discussion on subject matters was pertaining to the South Asian community.
It was here that he met, Farrukh Dhondy, then commissioning editor for multicultural programmes at the Channel (http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/channel-4-what-price-who-cares-for-multicultural-programming/) who asked him to direct, “Bandit Queen” (1994) the hard hitting Channel 4 film about the life of the dacoit, Phoolan Devi, featuring, Seema Biswas in the leading role. See the video clip of Seema Biswas talking about “Bandit Queen” in Cannes this year. It was this film that propelled Kapur into the international arena, and the rest, as they say, is history.