An American in Madras


(Karan Bali, 2013, India, 80min)

An American in Madras primarily traces American-born filmmaker Ellis R. Dungan’s years in India. Dungan made India his home from 1935-50 and became a celebrated director in the Tamil Film Industry based in South India. Born in 1909 and hailing from Barton, Ohio, Dungan reached India on February 25th, 1935 intending to stay for 6 months but ended up staying for 15 years making 13 feature films, 11 in Tamil and one each in Telugu and Hindi. During this period, he brought many technical innovations to the developing Tamil Film Industry of the 1930s and ’40s, and infused a sense of professionalism into its filmmaking. All this, without understanding a word of the language! Dungan also served the Madras Government in World War II. He directed photo features, newsreels and wartime propaganda films and recorded historic events in India’s history around the period of her Independence.

Director’s Bio
Karan Bali (Lawrence School, Lovedale, 1986, St. Xavier’s College, 1989) graduated from the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, with specialization in Direction in 1993. With Mumbai as his base, he has been making mainly documentaries besides being first assistant director on two feature films, Everybody Says I’m Fine and Matrubhoomi – A Nation Without Women. He teaches filmmaking and is also the co-founder and content-in-charge of, an analytical portal on cinema of the sub-continent. An American in Madras is his first feature length documentary.

Sunday, June 29, 2014, 12 PM