Award-winning national actor Suhasini Mulay is best known for his stellar performances in films such as Hu Tu Tu’s Gulzar and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan, and has directed numerous documentary winners. He has also helped well-known filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen in the past, but few are aware of his encounter with the famous French filmmaker Louis Malle. Interestingly, Mulay held the Academy Award for winning a personal camera for the 16 mm filmmakers he recently donated to the Film Heritage Foundation Archive.
This is the same camera that Malle used to shoot his famous seven-part documentary, Phantom India, which was shot between January 1968 and May 1968. Mulay narrated a background story about the camera. Suhasinin said that when Louis arrived in his homeland to shoot Pantom India, which was eventually banned there, he met many people including my mother Mrs. Vijaya Mulay (director, writer, film historian).
He was the Censor Officer at Kolkata at the time and was also one of the founding members of the Federation of Film Societies of India. He said when Louis met his mother, he was very suspicious of her as he believed that government employees especially Censor Officers would not know anything about films and cinema. But he was amazed not only to know so much about international cinema but also to be one of the founding members of the Federation.
He also said that the meeting marked the beginning of a new friendship and that Malle and Vijaya became good friends over the years. Suhasini said that later, when her mother went to Paris to look for work, she stayed with him. There he mentioned that she was making films and at the time buying a camera was not easy, so he gave her mom his camera.
This is a crank beaulieu hand and had it in him all the time. When he found something interesting, he simply shot it and did not know where to use it. She used this camera to make many of her documentaries. Many books have also been exchanged between Vijaya and Malle over the years Suhasini recently donated to the National Archives of India.
The actress-filmmaker admits that it was difficult to convey precious art. He added that technology has completely changed and almost no one but Hollywood short films filmed on celluloid. He said he was happy to give it to the Film Heritage Foundation so it would at least be well maintained, loved and cared for.
One of Suhasini’s most fond memories of Malle is related to Indian cuisine. He also said he loves Indian food so his mother once invited him to lunch. He turned his shotgun on himself when apprehended by a police officer on the porch of the house where the shootings were done. They wanted to learn how to cook Indian food, but they spent more time taking pictures of what was happening than actually learning to cook. And she remembers as soon as her mother put on the red pepper they all ran out of the house, laughing at Suhasini’s favorite Louis Malle films by Goodbye, Children and The 400 Blows.
Film Heritage Foundation Director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur thanks Suhasini for giving them the right to keep this historic film tour. Dungarpur smiles that It is a Beaulieu R 16 mm Camera, which even shows film. As the only nonprofit organization working in the Indian film industry, they are excited about this precious addition to their growing collection of film art and souvenirs.