|Directed by||Kumar Shahani|
|Music by||Bhaskar Chandavarkar|
|Cinematography||K. K. Mahajan|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Maya Darpan (English: The Illusory Mirror) is an Indian Hindi film directed by Kumar Shahani. It is a significant work of the Indian Parallel Cinema movement which started during the 1970s with filmmakers Mani Kaul and Shyam Benegal. The film was forgotten soon after its release, but was rediscovered and is today considered a landmark work of Indian cinema. The film stars Aditi and Anil Pandya.
The film is set in a provincial town in Northern India, at a time following the nation’s independence in 1947 when India was yet to be completely integrated as a political entity and when Nehruvian socialism was about to take on the existing feudal hierarchy.
Taran (Aditi) is the daughter of a wealthy landlord (Anil Pandya) and lives with her father and her widowed aunt (Kanta Vyas) in their ancestral mansion (which goes on to represent the whole of upper class in the film). The town is witnessing protests by newly formed labour unions which are partly being politically educated by the local railroad engineer (Iqbalnath Kaul), who seems to have an unspoken romantic relationship with Taran. Taran’s unseen brother, who had, to the chagrin of their father, renounced his class privileges and gone off to an Assamese tea estate, asks Taran to join him. Stuck in a stifling patriarchal order, with pressure to get married to an upper class groom mounting, Taran decides to talk to her father about her plans.
- Anil Pandya
- Kanta Vyas
- Iqbalnath Kaul
Rediscovery and Appreciation
In an interview with Shahani, Rafique Bhagdadi and Rajiv Rao reveal the initial reaction to the film: "Despite the lavish praise it received abroad, Maya Darpan (1972) met with hostile reception in India. Critics panned it for its excessively languid pace. Others found the film to be too European in its sensibility. Those who expected poverty of metaphysics were disappointed.
The film was rediscovered through independent film enthusiasts in India dedicated to bringing Indian Parallel Cinema to the forefront of serious critical artistic discussion. The movie found a revival amongst film enthusiasts. A film blog, The Seventh Art, stated that "We are now at a point where even the original negatives of the film face the risk of extinction. One can only hope that institutions like the World Cinema Foundation will do something about it. Kumar Shahani’s Maya Darpan is a seminal work in Indian Parallel Cinema not just because it canvasses critical social issues (a facet that, more or less, in hindsight, has become a characteristic of the movement) but also because it attempts to seek out a new aesthetic, which does not try to straddle mainstream cinema and art cinema, to do that."
- "Maya Darpan IMDb Page". IMDb. May 24, 2013.
- "Flashback to Maya Darpan". The Seventh Art. May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- "Maya Darpan IMDb Awards Page". IMDb. May 24, 2013.
- "Interview with Kumar Shahani". Projectorhead Film Magazine. May 24, 1984.
- "Flashback to Maya Darpan". The Seventh Art. January 12, 2009.