'...we are still without a telephone...'

  • December 18, 1965
  • 267 Words

Dear Krishna,

Assumning that you stuck to your plan of leaving Paris on the 12th , you and Jean must already be in Calcutta. Perhaps it is too early to ask you of your plans - especially of visiting Bombay.

Incidentally, Mrs. Datt was given your messages.

So far I haven’t had any communication form Pierre Schaeffer or his colleagues. I really do not know what to make of his silence. Could it be due to the elections? Or, maybe they are still working on the project. Sending a unit out to India is after all a fairly costly affair. I would not mind doing the film on my own if only I knew that French television would buy it. Do you think I could propose this to Schaeffer?

I am sorry I haven’t been able to send Mr.Hashmi the list of films for the Indian retrospective in Paris. The list in fact is ready but I am still checking up the availability of films. And as soon as that is done I shall post a copy each to Mr.Hashmi and Henri Langlois. Did you get the parcel of photographs through our Embassy? I do hope it was not any inconvenience to Jean’s office.

We are still without a telephone, though the wiring of the place was done long before I left for Europe. As soon as it is installed I shall send you the number. My wife joins me in sending you both our affectionate greetings.

Bhagwan Garga

'...this is quite the routine with most people...'

  • January 10, 1966
  • 486 Words

Dear Garga,

I hope that the wine reached you. Its purpose was to make you ‘aware’ that we had arrived in India in due time and that your letter was awaiting me in Calcutta.

It's almost two weeks that I am here, Jean having returned to Paris last week. I am absorbing at quite a speed all the theatre and films that I can. A whole new crop
of work has come up since I was last here and some of it exceedingly expressive and forceful.

Utpal Dutt’s Kallol is a brilliant production jammed with people at every show. Even Harisadan Das Gupta’s film carries an inner impact which left me feeling far from indifferent. Most people are judging it from the visual point of view, and in this, it’s true that Dasgupta has much to acquire in the sense of craftsmanship and restraint. But nevertheless the film carries a point.

I have just had a talk with Mrinal Sen on the phone- he is going to show me his Akash Kusum over so much controversy had occurred. People here (meaning people involved in work which has to be expressive - the rest of the middle-class bourgoeoise is entrenched in conformism and security) are so terribly alive to ideas, so aware that search means taking tremendous risks. This aspect is very stimulating for me.

This I had also felt in Paris lately. I had telephoned twice to Scharffer - once in regard to an invitation for an emission for ‘couverte musique’, and once again to invite him to our house when Ravi Shankar played. On both occasions he was extremely nice and direct but neither of us mentioned the question of your films. I feel that the initiative should come from them. I was a little apprehensive that they might not send you the letter when they said - this is quite the routine with most people in France. And, then again, one day you might suddenly get a letter asking you to do the work right away.

Jean and I saw Satyajit. Had a wonderful evening with him.

Garga I feel it is most important to do the Indian Film Festival at the Cinematheque this year. Much is getting expressed in this domain. Certain people in France must get to know about it. I will be in Calcutta until Jan 31 st - then to Delhi around Feb 5th or 6th till the end of Feb. If we can’t meet in either of these two places and you feel we should draw up a plan of some kind, then I shall stop at Bombay for a couple of days on my way to Paris. Please write me your plans.

My love to your wife, daughter and yourself.


'...artificially created war psychosis...'

  • January 22, 1966
  • 433 Words

Dear Krishna,

I meant to write earlier but one project or the other has kept be busy or rather enticed. I was all set to go to Benares for the film I talked to you about when I had an offer from the Khadi commission to do a film for them. With Mr.Shastri’s tragic death, that also has been delayed, at least by a month.

Enclosed alongwith you will find a letter from Georges Sadoul which speaks for itself. However I have written to him to say that it is very difficult to suggest a film from Bombay. For quite some time now Bombay film industry has been a grip of an artificially created war psychosis. Over fifty films had either been produced on in process of production on Indo-Pak conflict. And you know why? Because one film had been such a smash hit at the box office. Now how can you produce good cinema in such a pathetic state of affairs?

I do fervently hope that Bengal has retained some sanity. What about Harisadan Das Gupta’s film. Do you think that film can stand the test of French critic scrutiny? But then Hari is not a new filmmaker. As Georges Sadoul points out that it’s a shame, that no Indian film has ever been shown in the Critic’s Festival. Please search hard and send a film from Calcutta. Consult Satyajit.

Krishna, I do not really know if would be possible for me to meet you either in Calcutta or Delhi. But I think it is necessary that we meet somewhere to finalise the list of films for the Paris retrospective. I too think that this sort of projection of India is absolutely necessary. Unless my programme undergoes a sudden change, I expect to be in Bombay most part of March. It would be a good idea if you could stop in Bombay for two days before you proceed to Paris. Meantime you could perhaps make a selection of Bengali films, altogether around seven- two old and five new ones. In this, the Calcutta Film Society should assist you.

I had several letters from Anil regarding the ‘Twenty Years’ project but I really cannot think of a way of realizing it. I rang up Bachubhai a few times but he is hardly ever in Bombay. Anil suggested that we go to Ahmedabad to see him. But that hardly appears wise. What do you think?

With love from my wife and myself.


'...as fruitful as you hoped for...'

  • October 18, 1966
  • 97 Words

Dear Bhagwan,

I am sorry I missed you while you were in Paris. It was really unfortunate I had to go both to Brussels and to London. However I did not realize that your stay was so short.

Anyway we will see each other in Bombay, as the three of us are planning to go to India around Christmas time.

I do hope your stay in Europe has been fruitful as you hoped for.

With my best personal regards,

Jean Riboud

'... there happened nothing spectacularly new'

  • April 1, 1968
  • 270 Words

Dear Garga,

I was wondering about your silence but this morning I was very unhappy to learn of your wife’s illness. Anyhow its good to know that she is well on the way to recovery and I hope that each day will bring her more strength.

I have not been able to inform you on the Cinematheque in the last two weeks because there happened nothing spectacularly new.

Negotiations between the two Committees, that is the Government’s and the Langlois Committee, are still in progress and it is very difficult to predict exactly what will occur before the meeting of the General Assembly on April 22.

I am reaching Delhi around April 10 and expecting to spend four weeks there. This in on account of my project at the National Museum which has been at last accepted and which I will now have to establish. I will have so much work to do that really do not know whether I can spend any time in any other place. I will be staying at the International Center, 40 Lodi State, for about four weeks.

I will of course get in touch with you on the telephone and it would be nice if we could plan to meet. Inspite of our respective over-crowded schedules, please see what you can do, and I on my part will see if I can possibly make a stop at Bombay on my way back.

This is all for now. My very best wishes to your wife and to you.


'...in the same post as your letter...'

  • April 6, 1968
  • 240 Words

Dear Krishna,

Many thanks for your letter and your kind concern about my wife’s health. She is improving steadily and I guess in about a month’s time she should be able to go about normally.

I thought that I should inform you that I have to go to Budapest towards the last week of this month. This is in connection with the shooting of my film on Amrita Sher-Gil, which has at last been sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Some shooting has to also be done in Paris. I propose to leave for Paris around the 20th of April, so that I am well in time for the General Assembly meeting on April 22. Incidentally, in the same post as your letter, I received a notice from Comite de Defense De la Cinematheque Francaise, to assign my proxy, since it appears that I, as a member, have a voting right.

I am of course most anxious to meet you or at least talk to you on the ‘phone’. Unless of course you must fly to Delhi directly, is there any possibility of brief stopover in Bombay - even a few hours between the flights - so that I can see you before I leave for Paris. Alternatively, kindly do ring me up any morning or evening on your arrival in Delhi.

Kindest regards, 

'...temporary lull forever...'

  • March 1968
  • 83 Words


Airmailed Yesterday 4 registered envelope with photographs please inform Illustrated Weekly

Many thanks for cuttings sending further cuttings and photographs stop I will keep you
informed on any major decision best wishes.


Please thank Subroto for excellent article stop continuing sending press cuttings stop temporary lull however cinematheque still closed more news to follow in ten days best wishes

'...brother is in love with her and wants to marry her'

  • July 23, 2000
  • 550 Words

Dear Dileep

Your moving tribute to Krishna brought back a flood of memories, some of which I thought I’d share with you. I first met the Ribouds not in Paris but at La Carelle in the summer of 1964. One morning Henri Langlois picked me up from my hotel to show me the caves where he had hidden Cinematheque’s most precious treasures during the Nazi occupation. Truffaut had loaned his car and driver (the young Guy. Who did all kinds of chores for Henri). It was around tea time that we ended up at La Carelle. On the way, Henri had told me about Jean and Krishna and that we would be staying the night with them. I am a bit shy when meeting new people and it takes me a while to get used to them. Not with Krishna and Jean; they had that marvelous quality to make one feel at home instantly. Their natural grace and warmth told me that I had been ‘accepted’.

After dinner Krishna took me aside and said, “Garga, you being a film historian, must know something about Indian actors and actresses?. Before I could answer, she pulled out a photograph from somewhere and showed it to me. I told her I knew the lady. ‘Any scandals? I said ‘not that I know of’. ‘My brother is in love with her and wants to marry her', she confided. Next morning, Jean took me out for a walk through the woods which opened out on to the lake, where Krishna had kept several exotic birds from India.

Back in Paris I had developed an eye infection. It was well-nigh impossible to find a doctor in July. When Jean came to know of it, he arranged for one through his office. This was the beginning of a long friendship. And when in Paris I would spend a great deal of time at the Riboud residence.

On another occasion around 65-66, I had come to Paris at the invitation of Pierre Scheffler (ORTF). I rang up Krishna who asked me over to dinner. It was a joyous evening with excellent food and wine. After dinner I decided to walk back to my hotel not far from Ave. du Bretieul. It was well past midnight when I woke up in a sweat, my heart beating furiously. It was an unearthly hour to wake up anyone.

Finally I rang up Anil de Silva (who was at the dinner) who in turn informed Krishna. Less than an hour, a friend of the Riboud’s whom I had met earlier arrived with a doctor. Their mere presence calmed my nerves. A day later, Jean’s physician examined me. Timely help had averted a possible heart attack. Krishna insisted that I move in with them for a few days before returning back to Bombay.

I could go on and on. Krishna’s passing away has snapped another link with Paris which started with Sadoul, Henri, Lotte, Mary, Anil and Fulchignoni. All that is left are memories of shared moments of warmth and happiness.

Hope we will meet soon either in Goa, Delhi or Paris next year.

All the very best

'...not come merely to see films...'

  • January 2nd
  • 209 Words

Garga introduces Mrs. Jha, the Ambassador's wife, to the various exhibits


Dear Mr. Garga,

My friend Mrs. Riboud, when she was here, talked to me of the Cinematheque Francaise, and to getting some of their films.

We have a film club here called ‘Darshita’, and so far I have been showing rare films to its members. But I would like to put it on a more interesting basis, so that the members, learn about films, various techniques and so on, and not come merely to see films, as a pastime.

I hear that some rare films are coming to Bombay from the Cinematheque and wondered if we could show them in Ahmedabad, whenever convenient. If someone like you, could come with the films, it would be far more exciting.

Do let me know your programme and whether we can meet sometime to discuss this.

With kind regards,

Mrinalini  Sarabhai