Kamlabai

Reena Mohan

Synopsis

Kamlabai Gokhale was one of the first actors of India, and the first lady of Indian film. She is ninety-two years old now and lives by herself in a flat. Family members come to visit her now and then. She is an invalid, confined to her bed. But her personality is unwavering and she beams forth power when she recalls her former parts in pieces by Shakespeare and in Indian epics, or when she talks of the poverty she had to fight against. The basis of the documentary are conversations with Kamlabai Gokhale. Her present and past are discussed through photographs, parts from a play Kamlabai acts out again, and music from the beginning of this century. However, the film is not purely nostalgic. It gives an impression of the history and the changes, particularly the history of Indian film and theatre as it was experienced by a woman who struggled against the social structures of her times.

More Info

Reena Mohan is an award winning independent documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked out of Dubai, India, Kathmandu and London.

A graduate from the Film & Television Institute of India, she has edited several features, television serials and over 50 documentaries. She produced and directed her first award-winning documentary Kamlabai in 1991 and since then has directed more than 10 documentaries, many of which have received international recognition.

She has researched extensively on the silent cinema of India and published a paper Of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women on the contributions of pioneering women to early cinema. She has conducted workshops on documentary practice for over two decades and has also served as jury member of several international film festivals.

She has been the Managing Trustee of the India Chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) and also Co-Director of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival, New Delhi.