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Vijaya Mulay

vijaya mulayam, vijaya mulaya
Vijaya Mulay born 16 May 1921 is a documentary filmmaker, film historian, writer, educationist and researcher

Her close friendships with Satyajit Ray, Louis Malle, Mrinal Sen and other film personalities have given her a unique perspective into Indian cinema and influenced her work Her body of work has shaped how India is viewed by Indian and non-Indian filmmakers She is the mother of National Award winning actor Suhasini Mulay and noted high energy physicist Atul Gurtu is her son-in-law Vijaya Mulay is remembered for her animation film Ek Anek Aur Ekta which won the National Film Award for Best Educational Film


  • 1 Life and career
    • 11 Bombay, Patna, Bihar
    • 12 Patna to Leeds, UK
    • 13 1959: Satyajit Ray and India's first Film Society
    • 14 Film Censor Board of India, Louis Malle and The Tidal Bore
    • 15 Multimedia, UNICEF and CET/NCERT
    • 16 From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond: images of India in International Films of the 20th century
  • 2 Awards and milestones
  • 3 References

Life and career

Vijaya Mulay was born in Bombay, India

Bombay, Patna, Bihar

Vijaya Mulay on location – Hampi, Karnataka

In 1940, Vijaya accompanied her husband when he was transferred to Patna, Bihar Compared to the cosmopolitan Bombay the pre-independence Patna seemed to her like a place from another universe But Patna University allowed women to study privately and Vijaya enrolled for a bachelor's degree

English films were shown half price on Sunday mornings at the city theatres known as Bioscopes Vijaya began her love affair with the medium and started grasping the idiom of cinema

Patna to Leeds, UK

Vijaya Mulay with the late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi

In 1946 she won a state scholarship to study in University of Leeds, UK for master's degree in Education

While there, Vijaya realised that the ordinary Britisher was hardly like the English "Burra Saabs" Great Masters back in India

From an interview with Vijaya Mulay on her days in the UK – I had gone to Britain, with an anti-colonial distaste for the British people and with the sole purpose of studying for my degree I was on my guard, ready to take offence at the slightest insult or remark derogatory to me or to India, whether imagined or real But I soon found out that the ordinary English people were hardly like the 'Burra Sahibs' that one saw back home

On post-war cinema in UK – The Workers’ Unity Theatre played to full houses Films from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe ran often I saw film classics, experimental films, and socialist cinema I also gained a better perspective and understanding of the cinematic art by joining the university film society Film viewing, once a casual pastime, became my serious passion

1959: Satyajit Ray and India's first Film Society

Vijaya returned to Patna in 1949 and actively worked in the local film society In 1954, she moved to New Delhi when Government of India appointed her as an Education Officer Vijaya also found time to open Delhi Film Society and in 1959, eight film societies came together to form Federation of Film Societies of India with Satyajit Ray as the founding president and Vijaya Mulay and the critic Chidanand Das Gupta as joint secretaries

After the passing away of Satyajit Ray, Vijaya was appointed as the President of FFSI

Film Censor Board of India, Louis Malle and The Tidal Bore

Vijaya Mulay on location with the Indian musician Gangubai Hangal

In 1962 Vijaya was deputed to Bombay to work at the Central Board of Film Certification

From an interview with Vijaya Mulay – For five years I sat as the presiding officer with other four members from an approved panel that judged Indian and foreign films It gave me an insight into the biases of panellists that coloured their judgement of a film's suitability for public viewing My work with the Film Censor Board proved a mixed blessing I had to see films that ordinarily I would have walked out of in sheer boredom

In 1966 Vijaya was transferred to Calcutta and the following year Louis Malle came to the city with a French film delegation When they met Malle had an instant dislike towards the woman censor officer The dislike blossomed into a close friendship that lasted till Louis Malle's passing away in 1995

Both Satyajit Ray and Louis Malle helped Vijaya in making her first film – 'The Tidal Bore' about the 15 feet tidal bore coming from Bay of Bengal like a wall of water on the Hooghly River Malle sent negative stock from France and Ray voiced the commentary

Government of India selected 'The Tidal Bore' as the official entry to the Mannheim Film Festival Later Film Federation of India screened the film in theatres across the country

Multimedia, UNICEF and CET/NCERT

When US loaned India its ATS-6 satellite ATS-6 had one video and two audio channels UNICEF hired Vijaya to produce test modules for children in the 6 to 9 age group In 1975, Vijaya was asked to head the CET – Center for Educational Technology to prepare educational films for broadcast to over 2400 villages in rural districts and programming in 4 languages

Ek Anek Aur Ekta, the 1974 animation film Scripted and Directed by Vijaya Mulay and Produced by Center for Educational Technology is very popular amongst the many generations of Indians

The CET, NCERT projects equipped her to later continue research on the field of education and on using media for development

After her retirement from NCERT, Vijay took up a benchmark survey of distance education in Indian universities and collected data from 23 out of the 25 universities that were then providing such education This work was finished in 1983

The next 3 years, Vijaya worked as the Project Coordinator at the University Grants Commission and was responsible for the program Countrywide Classroom for undergraduates

From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond: images of India in International Films of the 20th century

While going through some of Louis Malle's letters Vijaya realised how India had changed him Similar experiences of Jean Renoir while making The River, and Roberto Rossellini prompted her to find out what about India excites and motivates the non-Indians, especially the filmmakers

From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond: India in International Cinema was released by Seagull books in August 2008 and by the University of Chicago Press the same year

Excerpt from the first chapter of 'From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi'

The little Gangotri, from where the river Ganga the Ganges emerges is a small rill; it becomes the majestic river Ganga as more rivers join it to expand its basin and flow My project too has followed a similar path and has become bigger and bigger though unlike Ganga, it is neither majestic nor holy I look upon this study as a personal journey of a film buff to understand what India meant to different people at different points of time as expressed in films

Awards and milestones

  • The Government of India honoured Vijaya Mulay with the V Shantaram Award for Lifetime Achievement for documentaries at the Mumbai International Film Festival – MIFF, 2002
  • Vikram Sarabhai Life Time Achievement award for educational communication in 1999
  • President of the Federation of Film Societies of India
  • Led the Indian Educational Technology Mission to the USA in 1975
  • Member Secretary of the Education commission for Goa and other former Portuguese territories in 1962
  • Developed a multimedia package through SITE Satellite Instructional Television Experimentfor training of more than 48000 primary school teachers Widely considered to be a path-breaking program in the area of educational technology
  • Several of her films received National awards and awards at International Film Festivals including Delhi, New York, Teheran


  1. ^ http://wwwawardsandshowscom/features/best-educational-film-545html
  2. ^ "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 1 February 2011 Retrieved 14 July 2010  FFSI website
  3. ^ Mulay, Vijaya "From Rajahs and Yogis to Gandhi and Beyond: Images of India in International Films of the 20th Century" Univ of Chicago Press 

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