Films of Yavar Abbas
Khans of Pakistan
FILMS OF YAVAR ABBAS
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.
My India Yavar Abbas and
farm hand at Yavar Abbas's
examining the ripe corn
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.
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
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
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)
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.
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
KHANS OF PAKISTAN (Colour,
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.