Booming Indian cinema plays starring role in Sachs scholar's research
By Ruth Stevens
Princeton senior Rafil Kroll-Zaidi has been named the recipient of the 2003 Daniel Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship.
The award, one of the highest honors given to Princeton undergraduates, was established in 1970 to provide a senior with the opportunity to study, work or travel abroad after graduation. It will fund Kroll-Zaidi's tuition and living expenses for the next year as he pursues postgraduate study in photographic technique at Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design in London and an internship in motion picture production in India.
Kroll-Zaidi spent his early childhood in India with his father, a native of that country, and his mother, an American. He moved to the United States and graduated from St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin, Texas. At Princeton, he received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in 2001.
"I am interested in the relationship between images and memory not only as it pertains to me, but also in questioning how communal memory is constructed and maintained," Kroll-Zaidi wrote in his application for the Sachs scholarship. "American and Western European culture has become extraordinarily visual, and it is vital to understand the significance of photography and film in this culture. How is individual memory disseminated throughout the community, and how does collective memory influence the individual? What role might cinematic and photographic images play in that complex interpenetration?"
He intends to complete a postgraduate certificate in photography in London, as well as to enroll in classes related to cinematic practice. After studying for four months in England, he plans to return to India for a six- to eight-month film production internship with several leading Indian filmmakers who have offered him the opportunity to work on set.
"The Indian cinema is (by production volume) the single largest national film industry in the world, and yet America has little exposure to and knowledge of it," he said. "In working with these directors, I hope to achieve a deeper understanding of the history and directions of Indian cinema, and to participate in increasing its exposure while also creating something that is my own contribution."
Kroll-Zaidi plans to document his experiences through photographs, videotape and writing.
"As a person whose parentage and cultural identity is both Indian and American, I have both intense nostalgia for my childhood in India and an outsider's perspective from those times when I have returned there," he said. "I believe that this background will enable me to produce a document on Indian cinema that will be informative to a variety of audiences while being reflective of my vision and experience."
Classmates and friends established the scholarship in memory of Daniel Sachs, who starred in football and lacrosse at Princeton before attending Worcester College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He died of cancer at age 28. The award is given to the senior who best exemplifies Sachs' character, intelligence and commitment, and whose scholarship is most likely to benefit the public.
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Editor: Ruth Stevens
Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller
Staff writers: Jennifer Greenstein Altmann, Steven Schultz
Contributing writers: Karin Dienst, Eric Quinones, Cynthia Yoder
Photographer: Denise Applewhite
Design: Mahlon Lovett, Laurel Masten Cantor, Margaret Westergaard
Web edition: Mahlon Lovett