IN 1969, the Government of India organised the 4th International Film Festival of India.
I was the Member-Secretary of the International Jury with Raj Kapoor as Chairman and R K Narayan along with seven global film celebrities as members. We were to be in touch with Satyanarayan Sinha, Minister for Information and Broadcasting. Apart from his arrogant manners and lack of sensitivity, Sinha also ensured that people stayed at arm’s length from him, thanks to his liberal use of cheap perfume. The jury nicknamed him as Perfumo in that season of the sex scandal involving the British Minister, Profumo.
As Secretary of the Jury, it was important for me to co-ordinate with the minister. But it was tough. There was a saving grace: there was the highly intellectual, artistically inclined gentleman among politicians, who was the Deputy Minister in the same ministry, Inder Kumar Gujral. He had already endeared himself to the world of letters.
He blessed Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi
When I launched the 4-hour documentary, Indus Valley to Indira Gandhi in 1974, I requested Gujral to switch on the camera for the first shot. Interestingly, he mentioned the fact that I was launching my production on my own initiative with attendant financial risk without government funding.
When my film was half way under production, Emergency was declared and Gujral did not get along well with Sanjay Gandhi. He was summarily shifted to the Planning Ministry.