Saint and the Peasant, And Miles to Go, India ‘67, After the Eclipse, Nine Month to Freedom; these are a few of legendary film maker S. Sukhdev’s noteworthy films. Sukhdev’s name was synonymous with the new wave of documentary film-making in India. His contribution and accomplishment is illustrated by the fact that he was awarded the Padma Shri for his outstanding contribution to documentary film making and a young age of 35.
However, while he was an accomplished filmmaker in the public eye, his family had another story to tell. Sukhdev, who died suddenly at the age of 46, leaving behind a huge body of work and an unresolved relationship with his daughter.
On Saturday, May 31, Gyaan Adab screened this year's winner of the National Award for the best biographical reconstruction, ‘The Last Adieu’. The film, which is a personal quest of a filmmaker daughter to unravel the past and make a connection with her filmmaker father, S. Sukhdev touched an emotional chord with the audience.
Before the screening, the filmmaker, Shabnam Sukhdev introduced ‘The Last Adieu’, which is her endeavor to construct a picture of her father as she struggles to love and respect him for who he was. She mentioned how the film has been an introspective and investigative journey for her that started in the year 2005.
The film is an important record of a phase in documentary history that inspired and paved the way for the new wave in non-fiction narratives, and pays homage to Sukhdev, who revolutionized Documentary filmmaking in India in the mid 60’s, right through the 70’s.
Present at the screening were two important voices in the film; the eminent journalist Mr. Dilip Padgaokar and Mr. Prem Vaidya, retired cinematographer, Films Division. Both have contributed significantly to the film by sharing their respective memories of Sukhdev.
The screening was followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. The audience had a lot of positive feedback to share with Shabnam. Mrs. Kusum Gokarn, one of the members of the audience said, “I liked Shabnam's documentary a lot. It is created with a subjective emotion concerning her and her mother’s traumas experienced in their personal lives besides an objective intellectual critical assessment of her father's professional career, a rare combination. A fine tribute to a great creative genius who tragically died young.”