Jagat Murari

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Jagat Murari

जगत मुरारी
Born(1924-10-05)5 October 1924[1][2][3]
Died13 April 2007(2007-04-13) (aged 82)
EducationMasters in Physics, Masters in Cinema
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
OccupationFilm maker, Director, Educationist
Years active1948-2007
Known forFilm & Television Institute of India (FTII). First winner of President’s Gold Medal for a documentary film.
Notable work
Film Mahabalipuram
Spouse(s)Lakshmi Murari
AwardsPresident’s Gold Medal

Jagat Murari (5 October 1924 – 13 April 2007) was a distinguished Indian documentary filmmaker, known well for his contributions to Indian cinema as a producer, director and, above all, educator. He played a pioneering role in a number of key film institutions in India, including the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), and the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF). Murari is well remembered for nurturing young, talented students as head of FTII, Pune between 1962 and 1971,[4] many of whom are now well known names in the Bollywood industry,[5] including Jaya Bhaduri, Shabana Azmi, Adoor Gopalkrishnan and Subhash Ghai.

Life and career[edit]


Murari earned a Masters in Physics at Patna University and then, feeling that his background in physics would be useful in cinema, he obtained a Masters in Cinema in 1947 from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.[6] His first Hollywood internship was on Orson Welles' film, Macbeth. He returned to India early the next year and joined the Films Division as a deputy director just a few months after its creation. He then become a director, and then assistant producer.

Many of his films won national and international awards and were screened at some of the world's most prestigious film festivals (see Selected filmography below). His landmark film Mahabalipuram was shown at the International Film Festival in Berlin and at the Second International Art Film Festival in New York in 1952. In 1953, it went to the Edinburgh Film Festival. Mahabalipuram and Cave Temples of India – 1 (Buddhist), were shown in China in 1955 for a Festival of Indian Films, which was considered an important step in bringing the people of India and China closer together in friendship. By the time he left the Films Division in 1961, he had written and directed 37 films. Between 1959 and 1961, he produced 43 films.[7]


Murari joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune soon after its creation in 1961 and worked there until 1971. Initially, he was the Professor of Direction, but after Gajanand Jagirdar resigned as Principal in 1961, he took on the role. In the 1960s, the FTII trained actors, directors, cinematographers, and sound technicians, including Jaya Bhaduri, Shatrughan Sinha, Rehana Sultan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Kaul, Subhash Ghai, and K. K. Mahajan. As an educator, he filled India's prolific but chaotic film industry with a greater degree of professionalism and skill by introducing a stream of highly trained directors, technicians, and actors.[8]

Murari taught courses in documentary filmmaking and film direction, among other subjects as teaching Principal. He was very popular for his polite, kind-hearted nature and his dedication to his students. According to Subhash Ghai, he was "a thorough gentleman who cared for his students" and constantly strove to "reinvent teaching methods in filmmaking at FTII."[9]

In 1962, the government asked Murari to start the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) in Pune, because the Film Institute needed a good film collection for educational purposes. Murari established the vision for this new organization, shaped its objectives, and secured its funding. Initially a subset of the Film Institute, the Archives formally opened in 1964, with a small office in the Film Institute. It used the Institute's film vaults and hosted screenings in its theaters. He ran the Archives until 1967.[7]

In 1972, he returned to the Films Division, where he produced more films. His film Homi Bhabha - A Scientist in Action won the National Film Award in the Experimental Category in 1973. Another film from this period, Lost Child, based on the story by the well-known Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand, also won recognition.[citation needed]

In 1973, he established the Film Festival Directorate, where he hosted international film festivals as well as the National Film Awards program. He went back to the Film Institute in 1976 and retired three years later. After that, he returned to documentary filmmaking, working as a producer, director and scriptwriter. He made 10 films in those years, some for the Films Division, some for other organisations. He was still behind the camera at the age of 70. He continued to be involved in the film field as an advisor until shortly before his death.[citation needed]

Murari died on 13 April 2007 at the age of 85 after battling cancer. He is survived by his wife Lakshmi Murari, three sons, Ashok, Anoop and Vivek, and a daughter, Radha Chadha.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Award Organization
1951 Story of Steel Director & Script 1951: Certificate of Merit at Second International Festival of Scientific & Documentary Films, Venice, Italy

1952: Official Selection for In Competition Short Films at Cannes Festival

Films Division
1952 Mahabalipuram Director & Script 1954: President's Gold Medal for the Best Documentary Film at the 1st National Film Award, India

1952: Diploma of participation at International Film Festival, Berlin

1952: Selected for showing at Second International Art Film Festival in New York

1953: Selected for Edinburgh Film Festival

1955: Shown at Festival Of Indian Films in China

Films Division
1953 Our Original Inhabitants Director & Script 1953: Diploma of participation, International Film Festival, Venice Films Division
1955 National Library Director & Script 1956: Diploma of participation at International film Festival, Berlin Films Division
1955 Wonder of Work Director & Script 1955: Certificate of Merit, National Film Awards

1957: First Prize at International Congress on Occupation Health in Helsinki

1957: High Commendation Certificate at the Seventh World Congress of the International Society for the Welfare of Cripples at London

Films Division
1956 Bharata Natyam Director & Script 1956: Diploma of participation at International film Festival, Berlin

1956: Selected for exhibition, International Film Festival, Edinburgh

Films Division
1956 Madurai of the Naiks Director & Script 1958: Diploma of participation at International Film Festival, Bergamo Films Division
1956 A Holiday in South India Director & Script 1960: Diploma of Honour, International Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland Films Division
1957 Jhelum Director & Script 1958: Diploma of participation, International Film Festival, Cork, Ireland

1958: Selected for exhibition, International Film Festival, Edinburgh, UK

Films Division
1958 Story of Energy Director & Script 1966: Gran Premio Cup and Diploma of Merit at XIII International Electronic, Nuclear and Teleradio Cinematographic Review, Rome Films Division
1960 Half of Mankind Director 1965: Shown at Third International Film Festival of India, New Delhi UN
1964 One Day Producer 1965: Golden Gate Award at San Francisco International Film Festival

1965: All India Certificate of Merit in documentary category of National Film Awards

1965: Certificate of participation at Edinburgh Festival

1965: Selected for Exhibition in Sydney Festival

1973 Homi Bhabha - A Scientist in Action Producer 1973: National Film Award, Experimental Category

1974: Diploma of participation, International Scientific Film Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Films Division
1974 Lost Child Producer 1977: Diploma of participation, XVth International Cinema Contest for children & teenagers, Gijon, Spain, 1977 Films Division
1980 Conquest of Cancer Producer & Director & Script 1980: Diploma of participation, XVIIIInternational Festival of Films on Scientific and Technical Progress, TECHFILM80, Pardubice, Czechoslovakia

1981: Certificate of participation, 8th International Film Festival of India, New Delhi

Jagat Murari Productions for Films Division
1982 Jewel of Manipur (Part 1) Producer & Director & Script 1990: Certificate of Participation in the First Bombay International Film Festival for Documentary & Short Films, India Jagat Murari Productions for Films Division


He won the first President's Gold Medal in 1954 for his 1952 documentary film Mahabalipuram. He also won several other national awards and international acclaim at festivals in Berlin, Venice, Edinburgh, San Francisco and Cannes.[9]


  1. ^ 1952 Asian Film Directory and Who's who, p. 372
  2. ^ Who's who in India 1986, Guide Publications., p. 289
  3. ^ India Who's who, INFA Publications, 2003, p. 387
  4. ^ "How I joined the Film Institute". 18 November 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  5. ^ TNN (17 April 2007). "FTII ex-chief passes away". The Times of India. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  6. ^ "Zoo Manners". CFS India. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  7. ^ a b "South and South-East Asia Documentary Film Research Website". digital.lib.hkbu.edu.hk. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Tribute to Jagat Murari - Livemint". www.livemint.com. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "Filmmaker Jagat Murrari no more". Shabana Ansari. DNA News. 17 April 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2012.