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A film review: Satah Se Uthta Admi (1980)
One needs to possess a courage of very high magnitude to adapt to screen, the works of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh. Understanding the man is a mighty task in itself and making a film out of it even more arduous. To put it upfront, the film is difficult and comprehending it would require some exercise of the intellect.

Mani Kaul did not write any screenplay for this film, crazy as it may sound, but he had a style,that was only his. The film is quintessential work of improvisational cinema. The film is a consolidated presentation of Muktibodh's literature, deriving the title from one of his short stories. The protagonist of the story is struggling poet, struggling in every sense of the word, and there are two antagonist friends who do not find much coherence with the poet's ideology.

The film tries to analyse the pain of a writer's mind, the traumatic stages where there is blockage of ideas and he is unable take a step further. The poet, named Ramesh, has a family to feed and the financial hurdles would give the featherless bird plenty of sleepless nights. The artist is in the midst of a storm and Bharat Gopi with his intense acting does a real fine job. Muktibodh was the pioneer of the Nayi Kavita movement in Hindi literature and his ideology leaned to the left, but this film is neither an exponent of communism nor a dismissive comment on it.

But it does portray a society where thinkers and intellectuals are considered nothing but a hogwash, people with high cerebral value are are suffocated to a lonely death. By de-constructing the quotidian techniques of story telling, Kaul constructs a new metaphor. The uncertainty of events and objects is beautifully brought to life in the film. One of the examples would be the scene in which the voice over coincides with the roaring sound of the train crossing a bridge and we don't really hear what is being spoken, but these uncertainties make up our world.

Some wonderful dialogues coated with mystical beauty make the film a literary feast. One of those lines would be, "I do not wish to reach the pinnacles or scale new heights, I am afraid of it, I am okay lying in a ditch with all my thoughts and traumas. I don't know what to do and what not to." The present writer seeks forgiveness for not being able to do justice to the original text which is in Hindi, but strongly urges to experience the film, live the film and be the film; its a work of a genius.

Zia Fariduddin Dagar's deep music makes the deep film even more deeper. Mani Kaul with his astounding knowledge of Dhrupad, a form of Hindustani Classical, gives birth to a work where you wonder wheater you are experiencing cinema in music or music in cinema. Dagar, with his Rudra Veena creates pure magic.

The film flows to a point where we see on the screen, in a relatively long sequence, writings of Muktibodh, and the viewer simply experiences a new level of aesthetic. The movement of the camera is as divine as any other Mani Kaul film. The changing pattern of the colors leaves you deep in thought. Mani Kaul once said: "When the shot finds its place, it has a quality of holding you."

This film has number of those making it a resounding testimony to his own statement. There is an ineffable beauty in Mani Kaul's films that make him one of the most enchanting personalities in the history of film making. The film leaves you happy, sad, perplexed and of course gives you that - which can not be put into words. With that I command my pen to stop. 

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