The director, along with Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, was at the helm of the Bengali Parallel Cinema, a film movement that originated in West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to mainstream commercial Indian cinema of Bollywood. The three great film-makers were ardent admirers of each other’s works
Legendary film-maker Mrinal Sen has died at the age of 95.
Mrinal, who had been suffering from old-age ailments for a long time, breathed his last at 10am on December 30 at Bhawanipore in Kolkata.
The director, along with Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, was at the helm of the Bengali Parallel Cinema, a film movement that originated in West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to mainstream commercial Indian cinema of Bollywood. The three great film-makers were ardent admirers of each other’s works.
Mrinal was born in Faridpur, Bangladesh on May 14, 1923. He moved to Kolkata after completing high school, and studied physics at the Scottish Church College there. He followed up with a postgraduate degree from University of Calcutta. He was awarded many honorary D Litt degrees by various universities.
Mrinal’s first feature film, “Raat Bhore” (1955), starred Uttam Kumar, but it did not do that well. His third film, “Baishey Shravana,” which was about the day Rabindranath Tagore passed away, was the first film to give him international exposure.
Mrinal made “Bhuvan Shome” with a shoestring budget, which was given to him by the Indian government. That film was a major critical success, and initiated the “New Cinema” film movement in India.
Other notable films by Mrinal are “Calcutta 71,” “Akaler Sandhane,” “Khandar,” “Padatik,” “Ek Din Pratidin,” “Mrigayaa,” “Kharij,” “Ek Din Achanak,” “Akash Kusum,” and “Neel Akasher Neechey.”
His films were overtly political, earning him the label of being a Marxist artist. He was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin.
Mrinal Sen also made a series of films where, instead of looking for enemies outside, he looked for the enemy within his own middle-class society. Those films were considered to be the most creative of his works.
In 1981, Mrinal was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. In 2005, he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour given to a film-maker in India.
The maestro came to Bangladesh several times and had a keen interest in Bangladeshi films. Film-maker Aka Reza Ghalib told Showtime: “I met Mrinal Sen in 1996 when he came to the Short Film Festival in Dhaka. He appreciated the films of Morshedul Islam, Tareque Masud, Tanvir Mokammel and so on. He met up with us whenever he was in Bangladesh and we did the same when we went to Kolkata.”
Fondly recalling Mrinal Sen as “Addabaj,” renowned filmmaker Morshedul Islam, shared with Showtime how the master film-maker used to adore them.
“I arranged a screening of ‘Chaka’ for Mrinal Sen at the German Cultural Centre back in 1994 or 1995. He praised the film. He also saw ‘Dukhai’,” he said. “Personally we had a great relationship. He used to discuss good films and film-makers with us. He had a soft side for Bangladeshi film-makers, as he was born in Faridpur. Even when new film-makers wanted his advice, he was there for them.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted about his death, saying: “Saddened at the passing away of Mrinal Sen. A great loss to the film industry. My condolences to his family.”
Saddened at the passing away of Mrinal Sen. A great loss to the film industry. My condolences to his family— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 30, 2018