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Last Updated 19.06.2024 | 5:39 PM IST
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EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

Shyam Benegal’s classic Manthan (1976) was restored earlier this year to all its glory by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur of the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF). The restored version was screened at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival and was attended by the film’s team. Now, the audience in India has also got a chance to see the film. The restored version of Manthan has been released in cinemas on June 1 and 2 by PVR Inox. Moreover, the premiere of the film was held in Mumbai’s iconic Eros cinema on June 1 and was attended by the film’s team – director Shyam Benegal, cinematographer Govind Nihalani (also an acclaimed director himself), actors Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Abha Dhulia, assistant director Prahlad Kakar, art director Shama Zaidi, singer Preeti Sagar and lyricist Namita Sagar. The others who were present were late actor Smita Patil’s son Prateik Babbar, Amrish Puri’s grandson Vardhan Puri, Ratna Pathak Shah, Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal, Shashi Kapoor’s son Kunal Kapoor, etc. Manthan was backed by Amul and Manoranjan Pani, GM of Sales & Marketing for Amul, also graced the occasion. Bollywood Hungama was present not just on the red carpet but also inside the auditorium where team Manthan went down memory lane.

EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur began by saying, “We didn’t know where the negatives were. It’s very unfortunate. Mr Benegal wrote to Amul. They were generous in supporting the whole cause. When I went to the NFAI (National Film Archive of India) to pick up the negative, I found that it had green moulds. There was no sound negative. The sound was digitized from the 35mm release print. You’ll find some of the scenes out of sync. Nothing could be done about it. In many of the close-up shots, you can see green cast on it.”

Shivendra, however, praised L'Immagine Ritrovata and said, “They have done a fabulous job; it’s the best lab in the world!”

Shyam Benegal narrated the famous story of how Dr Verghese Kurien, the force behind the White Revolution in India, suggested that the farmers crowdfunded the film by donating Rs. 2. Shyam also said, “Once, Dr Kurien suggested that I should make a sequel to Manthan. I said, ‘How can there be a sequel of a film like this? It’s not possible’! He then told me ‘If you want to make a sequel, go for it. Or else, forget it’.”

The veteran filmmaker is happy that Manthan found an audience in India and elsewhere saying, “It was shown in different parts of the world. It opened in Paris, London and Moscow and eventually, it was also shown in Beijing. It’s been shown just about everywhere in the world.”

EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

When asked how was it working with Shyam Benegal in his second film, Naseeruddin Shah replied, “It was my second film as an actor too! I prayed like hell that this film should get seen and that my work should get across to the audience. Seeing it in Cannes on the big screen after decades was a very emotional screening. It was a majorly French audience and they all found it wonderful though they could not understand the language. Everyone loved the song (‘Mero Gaam Katha Parey’) as they always do!

Naseeruddin Shah dedicated Manthan to Dr Kurien and added, “We should remember those who are in the big studio in the sky, dear friends who are not with us anymore.”

He praised FHF and stated that, “They not only restored the film and made it available to the next generation but as Shyam himself said, it looks more beautiful than the original print. I am sure that the film now has the visual beauty that Govind and Shyam wanted in the first place.” In his trademark style, the actor raised laughs as he remarked, “All you freeloaders, you should buy the ticket and see the film again tomorrow!”

Shama Zaidi too added to the fun. She revealed, “I was Prahlad Kakar’s escort in the morning. I had to walk him into the fields (when he had to relieve himself). He was caught by a lot of women who would go to fetch water! We put that scene in the film as well.”

She further said, “The reason why Shyam asked me to work on the dialogues and script was because people from Amul said, ‘It’s a very good script but it doesn’t show our work properly. It’s not technically correct’. Hence, we had to go as per what they said and how a cooperative is formed.”

Shama shared more information on the idea behind Manthan’s sequel saying, “Dr Kurien wanted the other film to be a failure! It was quite surprising. He wanted it to be set in the Nilgiris. That’s where he tried to form a cooperative and didn’t succeed. But it was through that experience that he learned and later succeeded. However, we didn’t make the film.”

Based on Shama Zaidi’s account, Dr Kurien wanted a prequel and not a sequel to Manthan. If Manthan’s prequel was made, it possibly could have been the first prequel in India and one of the first prequels in the world!

EXCLUSIVE: Manthan’s team goes down memory lane at the restored version’s premiere; Smita Patil-starrer could have been the FIRST Indian film and one of the first films in the WORLD to have a prequel

Prahlad Kakar’s turn came next and he said why he preferred staying in the village of Sanganva, where the film was shot, and not with the rest of the unit in Rajkot. He said, “The road from Rajkot to Sanganva was the worst road I have ever been in my life. I decided to hence stay put in the village. Me and the fellow assistants realized that there’s no damn loo! Hence, we had to carry a lota at the crack of dawn into the khet. When Shyam learned that we were not going to travel back and forth every day and going to stay in the village, he said, ‘Good. You’ll run the kitchen’! There was no catering in the village in Sanganva. We had to get the entire kitchen set up from Bombay and taken to Sanganva. We prepared four meals a day for the unit.” Prahlad shocked the patrons as he said “We made a dish with raw egg and brandy. Even the vegetarians had it (not knowing that it wasn’t a veg dish).”

Kulbhushan Kharbanda narrated, “Until a day before the shoot, I didn’t know which role I was going to play. I trained for the role of a Banarasi person who chews pan all day.” He got shocked when he met Amrish Puri and he realized that he was also prepping for the same role of Mishra ji!

Kulbhushan said, “I asked Shyam Benegal for an explanation. He said, ‘Make up karna shuru karoFir main batata hoon’Isliye yeh film badi ajeeb hai!”

The chat ended with Preeti Sagar singing ‘Mero Gaam Katha Parey’. The screening commenced and was shown without interval.

Another interesting attraction at the Manthan premiere was that a stall of Amul was erected at the F&B area and its staff gave away ice-creams and cool drinks on a complimentary basis. Meanwhile, a giant screen on the ground floor was split into two, giving the audience an idea about the original print and how the film now looks better after restoration.

More Pages: Manthan Box Office Collection


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