Biography

One of the pioneers of the new cinema in India, Shyam Benegal has been considered one of the leading filmmakers of the country ever since his first feature film, ANKUR was released. His films have been seen and acclaimed widely in India and at International film festivals for the last three decades. The core subjects of his films have been varied in nature but mainly centered around contemporary Indian experience. Problems of development, social and cultural change appear on many levels as a continuing thread in practically all his films. Apart from fiction features, he has made a number of documentaries on different subjects ranging from cultural anthropology and problems of industrialization, to music and so on. His work on television consists of several popular series based on international stories, short stories by well-known Indian writers and a mammoth 53 part series on the history of India based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s book Discovery of India. He has also made an extra-mural educational series for rural children sponsored by UNICEF.

Shyam Benegal taught mass-communication techniques between 1966 and 1973 and later took an active role in shaping film education as Chairman of the Film Television Institute of India during 1980-83 and 1989-92.

As a person deeply committed to social integration in India, Shyam Benegal was part of the National Integration Council (1986-89) and the National Council of Art. The Government of India has conferred on him two of its most prestigious awards - PADMA SHRI (1976) and PADMA BHUSHAN (1991).

In 2004, he was awarded the Indira Gandhi National Integration Award.
Recipient of DADASAHEB PHALKE AWARD for Lifetime Achievement 2005.Conferred with a D.Litt (Honoris Causa) from Jamia Millia University, 2007 and a D.Litt from the University of Calcutta in 2012.

Shyam Benegal’s career started with a job as a copywriter in advertising from where he graduated to become the Creative & Accounts Group Head before becoming a full time filmmaker. He has lectured at many institutions in India and abroad as well as participated in seminars on subjects dealing with Cinema, Television, Information Technology and different aspects of social and cultural change.

“He has made 26 fiction features for the Cinema, several documentaries and TV series, notably a 53 hour TV series on the History of India.”

Practically all his films have won national awards and several of them have been awarded internationally. Shyam Benegal was a Homi Bhabha fellow (1970-72) during which time, he studied Children’s Television with CTW in New York and worked as Associate Producer with WGBH, Boston. He runs a film production company in Mumbai.

Shyam Benegal was a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, 2006- 2012.

SHYAM BENEGAL M.A. in Economics from Nizam College, Osmania University, Hyderabad, 1957

HOMI BHABHA FELLOW from 1970-72.

  • Worked as Associate Producer at WGBH Boston, U.S.A.
  • Studied children’s television at Children’s Television Workshop, New York. U.S.A.
  • Created 29 learning modules for the Satellite Television experiment in India for rural children in 1975.