Contemporary Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal has been an important figure in the new wave of Indian directors. The son of a still photographer and one of 10 children, Benegal's love affair with motion pictures began when he made his first home-movie using a hand-cranked camera at age 12. As a young man, he went on to found a film society and get involved in acting while studying at Osmania University where he earned an MA in economics. After graduating, Benegal had been promised a lucrative job in Bombay. He arrived to the city with only a few rupees in his pocket to discover the job didn't exist. He eventually found a job as a copywriter at a large ad agency. Soon he was promoted to writing scripts and directing advertising shorts and commercials. He remained there for over a decade. In 1969 he received a special fellowship to study operations of the Children's Television Workshop in New York. Later he did a brief stint as a TV producer in Boston. Benegal did not direct his first feature film, The Seedling (1974), until he was 40. Since then he has become a popular director in India, noted for creating films sensitive to the role of women in Indian societies. His films are also gaining international recognition and acclaim.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976, and the Padma Bhushan in 1991, the third- and fourth-highest civilian awards in India.
- In 2005 he received Indian cinema's highest award, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
- A six-time winner of the National Film Awards Best Feature Film in Hindi award.
- Won National Film awards for five consecutive years from 1975 to 1979.
- Won the Filmfare Best Director award for Junoon (1978).