Siddheshwari (1990)

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their
content. You can create a Siddheshwari Devi page, and/ or send
photographs to the Facebook page,
All information used will be duly acknowledged.
Mita Vasishth in Mani Kaul’s Siddheshwari When Vasishth begins her swim, she has a black sari loosely wrapped around her naked body. Here we see her back.
For another picture, see Adult content in Hindi-Urdu cinema
Mita Vasishth in Mani Kaul’s Siddheshwari The sari has flown down the river
Vasishth turns over to give us another view of herself. Mani Kaul thus assures us that Mita Vasishth swam fully naked in Siddheshwari, though he wouldn’t let us see it all. This 'turn of events' was later repeated in Kaul's The Cloud Door/ Baadal Dwar
That ugly yellow patch (lower right) is the Films Division logo.

The film

Siddheshwari is a 90-minute biopic about Siddheshwari Devi (8 August 1908-18 March 1977), one of the greatest Indian classical singers of the 20th century. The film is an enacted-documentary, made for Films Division, the Government of India’s official maker of documentary films. The entire ‘beautiful and erotic film, far ahead of its time’ has been posted on YouTube by Satyen K. Bordoloi.

As far as the ‘erotic’ bit is concerned it has no relevance to the film—except to the extent that the thumri legend and her associates must surely have bathed in the Ganges. The makers of India’s so-called art films snootily deride ‘commercial’ filmmakers for repeating themselves (and others). Most of Mr Mani Kaul’s films were comprehensible only to him, which, at least in his own view, made him India’s own Goddard. However, he had no qualms about repeating the bath-in-a-public-water-body scene in film after film, e.g. The Cloud Door/ Baadal Dwar

Helpful notes

75husted informs us, ‘ in a 90 min film devoted to one of the two finest thumri [a north India classical singing style] singers ever to inhabit india there is about 20-25 minutes of her music here.most of it is well known. go to approx 4:30 for a beautifully sung tappa, to 16:00 for a thumri, to 33:15 for one of gauhar jan's well known 78 rpm recordings ( nahak laaye gavanwa) , 57:25 for another thumri (jaao, jaao, jaaoji), to 1:17:15 for a less well known "hamse najariya pheri"--a real treasure!--but alas just an excerpt. Go to 1:21:30 for her doordarshan recording -- the superb saiyaan re kaise ke aaoon tere dhigwa. mani kaul, quite incongruously, superimposed her late recordings on an actress portraying her as a young lady.’

Ambindia adds ‘the thumri in question was recorded for the Akashvani Sangeet Sammelan 1972. this is a doordarshan recording.’

Indpaedia adds: Mita Vasishth’s naked bath in the Ganges begins at 24:00

Cast and crew

Written and directed by Mani Kaul


Mita Vasishth

Pandit Narayan Misra as Siyaji Maharaj

Ranjana Srivastava as Rajeshwari Devi

Shrabani Mukherji as Kamala

Malviya as Siddeshwari ?

Anoop Mishra

Raman Shankar Pandya

Manmohan Chibber

Mohar Biswas as the child Siddeshwari—

Cinematography Piyush Shah

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