Dev Benegal is a New York based filmmaker. He is considered the pioneer of the next generation of Indian cinema with his first feature film English, August (1994) acknowledged as a landmark film in contemporary Indian cinema. It won the countries highest award in cinema- The National Award for Best Feature Film (English).
English, August was the first Indian film to be acquired for distribution by the 20th Century Fox. The film broke the stranglehold of Bollywood cinema and discovered a new young audience in India with its box office success.
It also won Silver Montgolfiere (Silver Grand Prix) at the 16th Festival des 3 Continents, Nantes France, 1994 the Gilberto Martinez Solares prize for the Best First Film 16th Festival des 3 Continents, Nantes France, 1994 and the Special Jury Award at the 12th International Festival, Torino, Italy, 1994.
English, August was amongst others an Official Selection at the 26th Annual New Directors New Films series presented by Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, 1997.
The New York Times writes: In “English, August,” his first feature film, Mr. Benegal deftly manages the feat of using the scalpel of humor to lay bare a young man’s painful but edifying immersion in an alien culture within his own land and to deliver potent sociological and political messages. Irreverent humor, frustrated idealism and earnest compassion are blended with a keen sense of character, place and political reality in the auspicious ”English, August.”
His second feature Split Wide Open (1999) premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and won the Grand Prix at the Turnhout International Film Festival in Belgium.
It also won the Special Jury Award and the Best Actor Award at the 14th Singapore International film Festival, 2000.
Distributed once again by 20th Century Fox in a major nationwide release across India the film has become the top three highest grossing new wave films in India.
Both international and national award-winning projects were the first Indian films to be distributed by 20th Century Fox played at more than 30 international festivals worldwide and were box office successes.
His feature film script, Road, Movie was an official selection for the prestigious Atelier de Cannes at the Cannes International Film Festival.
Produced by the renowned American producers Ross Katz (Lost in Translation) and Susan B. Landau (An Ideal Husband) and co-producer Fred Berger (La La Land), it was the first Hindi language filmed to be distributed worldwide by Fortissimo Films (2010) and was one of the first features to be distributed in the US by Robert De Niro & Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Films.
Road, Movie was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival where it premiered and was selected as the Opening Night film at the Generation Plus section at the Berlin International Film Festival.
The screenplay for his next film Dead, End won the Grand Prize at the NAFF/PIFAN International Festival Korea, 2014 and is in development.
He has cowritten and is directing Further to Fly adapted from a story set in New York by author Meera Nair.
He has written and will be directing Bombay Samourai, a neo-noir set in Bombay about an elusive hit-man which begins filming in late 2023.
Dev Benegal’s work represents modern Indian cinema which is distinct from the realist or popular traditions of Indian cinema. The strength of his films has been their humor, his characters and his unique style combining Indian narrative and western genre.
His passion for new voices and new stories in cinema saw the birth of his pioneering production program 24×7 Making Movies where he has produced over 60 short feature films. 24×7 Making Movies invites anyone under 24 years to make a short feature film in 24 hours. Variety and the Cannes International Film Festival have acclaimed the films.
Benegal has served as a longtime script advisor to the eQuinoxe Europe Screenwriting Workshop for Film Professionals. Their latest projects have been realized as several countries’ official submissions to the Oscars 2021.
He is also a photographer and is working on Out of Darkness a new one person show of photographs and timed installations.
Benegal has a long history in Indian cinema. He has apprenticed with India’s legendary Animation guru- Ram Mohan after which he worked with actor Shashi Kapoor’s Filmvalas on their film productions Kalyug (1981) and the English language version of Utsav (1984). He worked with the arthouse filmmaker Shyam Benegal on his feature films Kalyug (1981) Arohan (1983) and Mandi (1983). He was closely involved in the research, making and editing of the definitive documentary on Satyajit Ray- Satyajit Ray, Filmmaker (1984).
In addition to his feature films Dev Benegal has directed award winning short films which have played at leading International Film Festivals. Among them ‘Shabana!’ (2003), on Indian film star Shabana Azmi, and ‘Abhivardhan: Building for a New Life’ (1992) a film on community efforts after the Tehri Garwal earthquake and a series of short films, ‘Kalpavriksha: The Tree of Life’ (1988), ‘Kanakambaram: Cloth: of Gold’ (1987), ‘Anantarupam: The Infinite Forms’ (1987).
He was on the Selection Advisory Committee for the second edition of Mumbai Mantra| Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab 2013. He was also an advisor to the Time-Warner Foundation & Asia Society’s New Voices Screenwriting Fellowship program 2011 & 2013.