Merchant and the dancer Jane Mosley appear as human puppets in a short 16mm film that was a warm-up for his Creation of Woman.

The Creation of Woman
1960/U.S., 14 minutes

A year after The Sword and the Flute, Merchant produced his first film, the 14-minute short The Creation of Woman. Made while he was working at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, it was shot on the most meager of budgets, a mere $9,000 advanced by Charles Schwep, an acquaintance of the time, partner in the endeavor, and the film's director. At first Merchant considered starring in the film, but Schwep wanted a seasoned professional, and in something of a coup they engaged the celebrated Indian dancer Bhaskar Roy Chaudhuri for the leading role. The Creation of Woman begins with the story of the Hindu god Brahma, whose role as creator also encompasses the Christian account of Adam and Eve. The brief film is essentially a fable. After Adam calls on God to give him a female partner, Eve is created and Adam finds that he can neither live with nor without her. Photographed in bold colors (with costumes of red and gold set against a dazzling blue backdrop), Merchant's parable is set to music and dance, with Chaudhuri performing his splendidly sensual and athletic Dance of Shiva that in pantomime tells the story of man's beginnings. An arresting tour de force, the film seems relevant to Merchant himself, who selects the creation story for his theme as he creates himself as a filmmaker. The film was nominated in 1961 for an Academy Award for best theatrical short subject.

Director: Charles Schwep.
Producer: Ismail Merchant.
Script: Charles Schwep.
Photography: Wheaton Galentine.
Art director: Jim McIntyre.
Choreography: Bhaskar Roy Chaudhuri.
Narration: Saeed Jaffrey.

Cast: Bhaskar Roy Chaudhuri, Dinu, Anjali Devi.

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