Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (1980)aka Arising From The Surface
Kaul’s film addresses the writings of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh (1917-79), one of the main representatives of the Nai Kavita (New Poetry) movement in Hindi. Muktibodh also wrote several short stories, one of which provides the film with its title, and critical essays. The film integrates episodes from Muktibodh’s writings with material from other source, including a reinvented neo-realism derived from Muktibodh’s literary settings. The narrative is constructed around 3 characters. Ramesh (Gopi) iis one who speaks and enacts Muktibodh’s writings, functioning as the first-person voice of the text; his two friends, , Madhav (Jha) and Keshav (Raina), are Ramesh’s antagonists and interlocuters esp. in the debates about modernity. Kaul gradually minimizes the fictional settings until, in the remarkably shot sequences of the factory, the audience is directly confronted with the written text itself. Kaul had begun his studies of Dhrupad music, the classical North Indian music known mainly for its extreme austerity, and derived a number of cinematic styles from this musical idiom which have continuously influenced his films since, e.g. the continuously mobile camera, the use of changing light patterns and the importance of improvisation.
MANI KAUL: When I made A Day’s Bread, I wanted to completely destroy any semblance of a realistic development, so that I could construct the film almost in the manner of a painter. In fact, I’ve been a painter and a musician. You could make a painting where the brush stroke is completely subservient to the figure, which is what the narrative is, in a film. But you can also make a painting stroke by stroke so that both the figure and the strokes are equal. I constructed A Day’s Bread shot by shot, in this second way, so that the “figure” of the narrative is almost not taking shape in realistic terms. All the cuts are delayed, thought there is a preempting of the generally even rhythm sometimes, when the film is a projection of the woman’s fantasies.
SEMINARIAN: When you were shooting A Day’s Bread, did you mentally picture those shots? Or did the specific shots come along as you rehearsed?
MAIN KAUL: With a A Day’s Bread, it was strange. I had a dream. In the dream, I saw a filmstrip lying on the floor, and on it I saw all the shots. So I had a very strong sense of what I was going to do.
—A Critical Cinema 3: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers