York film grad wins India’s prestigious Golden Lotus Award

In mid-July, York film graduate Mohan Krishna Indraganti (MFA ‘00) found himself under the spotlight of the glowing Indian sun. His debut feature film, Grahanam (The Eclipse), won the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award (Golden Lotus) for the Best First Film by a Director at the 52nd National Awards in India. The Golden Lotus is the Indian equivalent of the Academy Awards’ Oscar or Canada’s Genie Award.

An elated Indraganti sums up his feelings: “I am thrilled to bits because Grahanam was made on a shoestring budget and it was among some of the toughest entries this year.”

Left: Mohan Krishna Indraganti

Grahanam is based on the short story Dosha Gunam (The Disease) by G.V. Chalam, one of the most famous and controversial writers in the Telugu literature of southern India. Indraganti’s adaptation marks the first time Chalam’s writings have been brought to the screen.

“The main character is Raghu, a doctor in his early forties who is well known in his profession. One day, while on his rounds at the hospital, he witnesses one of his patients turning hysterical at the sight of an old woman who claims to be his mother. That evening, Raghu meets his friend, Srinivas, for coffee and tells him a childhood story that is rich in detail of place, character and humanity,” said Indraganti describing a few frames of his award-winning film. Full of dramatic irony and poignancy, the story unfolds towards a startling revelation about Raghu, the patient and the old woman.

Grahanam has been screened at several national and international film festivals, including those in Seattle, Washington, Calcutta and Thiruvananthapuram, India.

Right: A scene from the film Grahanam

Born in India, Indraganti was raised on a rich diet of Telugu culture and literature. Before coming to York, he obtained a master’s in English literature from the University of Hyderabad. “Cinema is his passion, literature a religion,” wrote reporter K.V.S. Madhav in The Hindu, India’s national newspaper, on July 15. 

“If translating literature into cinema is in itself a daunting task, doing complete justice to one of Telugu’s greatest works was all the more difficult,” said Indraganti. “Literature gives one a large canvas on the silver screen and a wealth of emotions that need to be plumbed fully. My ambition is to make as many literary classics as possible into films.”

With an appetite whetted for more, Indraganti’s next project is the film adaptation of another Telugu classic, Buchchi Babu’s Chivaraku Migiledhi.

Grahanam, a 93-minute production in Telugu, is a black and white production with a one-minute sequence in colour.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.