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The Films of Yavar Abbas
India! My India!
Faces of India
India Called Them
Mother Ganges
Cricket in India!
The Khans of Pakistan

Yavar Abbas - the Satyajit Ray of Indian documentary cinema - is a London-based writer, broadcaster and film-maker. Born in India, he studied English and Persian literature and Indian and European history at University. He is fluent not only in English but also in Urdu and Hindi.

His film career began with an apprenticeship under the Oscar-winning American director Frank Capra. He then went on to establish an international reputation, collecting on the way a series of prestigious awards - among them: Gold and Silver in New York; 'Outstanding Merit' in Chicago; 'Best Colour Programme' in Hollywood; and the Marconi Award at MIFED in Milan. He has been honoured in Paris by the Cinematheque Francaise with a special retrospective and has worked with the United Nations as their Films Consultant.

India! My India Yavar Abbas and farm hand at Yavar Abbas's family farm
examining the ripe corn

India! My India
A roadside vendor, contented with her hashish filled hookah

His first film India, My India! had a major impact when it was shown on BBC television in 1966. Since then he has made many other films, among them two series for the BBC: Faces of India and India Called Them. Also shown on the BBC a documentary called Mother Ganges. These have all been distributed world-wide - as have Cricket in India, The Khans of Pakistan, and Mosque in the Park. He continues to work and travel between his home in London and his birthplace, the Indian sub-continent.

INDIA! MY INDIA! (B/W, 1966. In four parts)
When India gained her independence in 1947, and was partitioned into India and Pakistan, Yavar Abbas saw his dreams for a united, free India confounded overnight. Rather than live in an unnaturally divided homeland, he brought his wife, an Englishwoman, and infant son to live in England. In 1964 he went back to India and made this film. It covers the reunion with his family in Charkari, and the places of his past: Lucknow, Allahbad University, the Indian Military Academy, to his brother's Army home in Jhansi; to his long-lost sister in Patna.

FACES OF INDIA (Colour, 1968 In 7 parts)
The object of Yavar Abbas's "Face" films is to introduce us to a variety of characters of India. All too often, the outsider looks upon India as a land of countless, anonymous people - a population too vast to allow of any distinct individuality. In these seven films Abbas has set out to draw more sharply the features of a number of personalities from that 'amorphous mass'.
1. A Tongwallah from Delhi
2. A 9 year old tourist guide from Rishikesh
3. A Yogi from Rishikesh
4. The Jet Age Yogi
5. A Yogi eye surgeon from Madras
6. The ex-Revolutionary
7. A Sikh farmer from the Punjab

INDIA CALLED THEM (Colour, 1968 In 6 parts)
These films are a study of some of the people, all Westerners, who submitted to the peculiar pull of India.
1. Headmaster Gibson (from England)
2. Swami Sevananda (from England)
3. Jocelyn Basson (from South Africa)
4. Swami Karunanda (from Australia)
5. Bill Watters (from Scotland)
6. Judy and Dayananda (from Israel and England)

MOTHER GANGES (Colour, 1970)
India from the inside, an authentic and intimate look at life as it is lived in the modern-ancient land that is India.

Mother Ganges

CRICKET IN INDIA (Colour, 1982)
"What do they of cricket know who only cricket know?"
Once the pastime of the Pukka Sahibs and the Maharajas, this legacy of the Raj is now the most popular spectator sport in India. Why have Indians, who profess to shun imperialism, been bowled over by this imperial legacy? Yavar Abbas returns to his native India to explore the phenomenon. In his search he goes to Chandigarh, Patiala, Bombay, Lucknow, Rajkot , Delhi, Lahore and Jamnagar.

This film tells the story of a remarkable dynasty of sportsmen who have dominated world squash for 35 years. From the time Hashim Khan stunned the world by winning the 1950 British Open (the Wimbledon of squash), the Khan family have broken one squash record after another. And in the 1980s they produced Jahangir Khan, who would come to be regarded as the greatest player in history, and who remained undefeated for more than five years. In this film Yavar Abbas journeys with Jahangir to the Khyber Pass, home of the Khans, to find out more about the family and why they have towered over this fiercely competitive sport.


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