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World Cinema Series: Duvidha / In Two Minds

What Mani Kaul's third film (and his first in colour), Duvidha, is based on a Rajasthani folk tale by Vijaydan Detha. The film essays the story of a merchant's son (Ravi Menon) who returns home with a new bride (Raisa Padamsee) only to leave her soon after for businesses afield.
When 7 February 2012 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Admission for SFS members:
If you are an SFS member (normal member or Reel Card member), you can obtain a free ticket by flashing your membership card at the SFS desk at the theatre entrance. You may ask for up to 2 more tickets for your guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up at the SFS desk -- we will issue membership on the spot. Free seating.

Admission for non-SFS-members:
$8 / $6.40 Concession
*Prices exclusive of SISTIC fee


World Cinema Series
A programme of the National Museum of Singapore Cinémathèque

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs across the world, from renowned classics to neglected masterpieces. Witness the wonders, possibilities, textures as well as the revelatory moments that have contributed to the rich history of cinema. Take a leap of faith and discover the art of cinema that continues to affect and inspire us on the big screen -- as it was meant to be seen -- with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.

Duvidha / In Two Minds
Director: Mani Kaul
1973 | India | 84 min | Digital Beta | Rating TBC
In Hindi with English subtitles

Mani Kaul's third film (and his first in colour), Duvidha, is based on a Rajasthani folk tale by Vijaydan Detha. The film essays the story of a merchant's son (Ravi Menon) who returns home with a new bride (Raisa Padamsee) only to leave her soon after for businesses afield. His pursuit of greater wealth takes him to remote places and he returns only after long lapses of time. A ghost living in a tree impersonates the travelling husband and starts to live with his wife; they subsequently have a child.  The husband hears of this on his return, horrified to find the ghost impersonating him. With the help of an enigmatic shepherd the ghost is finally lured into a leather bag and sent away.

A bewitching amalgamation of the classical styles of the Kangra and Basohli miniature paintings and the classical art cinema of Robert Bresson and Sergei Parajanov inform the colour schemes, the framing and editing as well as the somewhat melancholic atmosphere of the film. This contrasts the full-blooded folk music score. Perhaps the most visceral aspect of Duvidha is Kaul's experiments with the imagery. He employs a number of photographs, freeze frames, jump-cuts and repetitions to illustrate the film's central notion of temporal and geographical dislocation. Free from the burden of traditional narrative storytelling, Kaul explores an alternative in which the past, present and future are always in conversation. The duality apparent in the title imbues itself throughout the film. It involves a choice between the spiritual and the material, the new bride's past and future, her childhood and adulthood, her freedom and honour and her love and security.

The film positioned itself so far removed from any other in Indian cinema's history that even directors outside the sphere of commercial cinema could not grasp its achievement. It left even the leading lights of Indian alternative cinema befuddled and angry. Satyajit Ray, considered  the spiritual father of the Indian New Wave, wrote a scathing article (Four and a Quarter, now collected in Our Films, Their Films, a collection of essays and critiques by Ray) expressing his disapproval and bewilderment. Ray attacked the film for its self-indulgence, its exotica and sparseness, while proclaiming that “Kaul's wayward, fragile aestheticism has led him to the sick-bed”. Unsurprisingly, such condemnation by the establishment has been the best feature of avant-garde art. While Kaul retained his experimental streak throughout the rest of his film career, Duvidha remains his most acclaimed film (not far behind is Kaul's astonishing debut film Uski Roti) and remains widely shown in Europe.

About the director, Mani Kaul

Mani Kaul was born Rabindranath Kaul in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in 1944. Kaul joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune initially as an acting student but decided to switch over to the direction course instead where he came under the tutelage of Ritwik Ghatak. He graduated from FTII in 1966. Kaul's first film, Uski Roti (1969), was one of the key films that signalled the rise of the Indian New Wave. The early cinema of Mani Kaul posed questions about the cinematic form, while pushing the envelope with great rigor, especially in such films as Asad ka Ek Din (1971), Duvidha (1973), and Satah se Uthata Aadmi (1980). In 1976, Kaul and other like-minded artists set up the Yukt Film Co-operative (Union of Kinematograph Technicians). This led to a remarkable avant-garde experiment in collective filmmaking. Kaul explored fiction and documentary with films like Dhrupad (1982), Mati Manas (1984) and Siddheshwari (1989) where the two different genres are fused successfully together with a rare cultural intensity. Mani Kaul continued making films until his untimely death last year, aged 66.