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aka Festival of Fire 1983 116’(120’) col Hindi d/co-sc/co-lyr Ketan Mehta pc Film Unit, Neo Film Associates st/co-sc/co-dial Mahesh Elkunchwar based on his play co-dial/co-lyr Hriday Lani c Jehangir Choudhury m Rajat Dholakia lp Sanjeev Gandhi, Manoj Pandya, Rahul Ranade, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Amole Gupte, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval, Shriram Lagoo, Aamir Khan, Mohan Gokhale

Mehta’s first Hindi film addresses the increasing lumpenisation of university students featuring scenes of victimisation reminiscent of Volker Schloendorff’s Der junge Toerless (1966). Forced to attend a lecture on India’s cultural heritage while on holiday, the boys rebel. The violence gradually escalates into a major battle with the authorities as the colourful and anarchistic pre-Vedic spring festival, Holi, turns into a menacing festival of fire with burning school furniture. The college principal induces a boy to denounce the leaders of the rebellion. The informer is publicly humiliated and is forced to commit suicide. Mehta decided to shoot almost all the scenes in sequence shots, often using a crab-dolly or a steadycam, and using synch sound rather than playback or post-synched sound (in spite of the complicated songs and the musical accompaniment). The film’s enthusiastic and hallucinatory participation in student violence (of which it is supposedly critical) allows it to move away from its original political thrust, conveying existential despair instead. The film enjoyed a cult audience in New Delhi for a short period.