London: Legendary Bengali filmmaker Mrinal Sen has left us today. He will be remembered along with his contemporaries Oscar-winning Bengali director Satyajit Roy and legendary Ritwik Ghatak. His humanistic approach in Indian cinema made him one of the pioneers of parallel cinema.

Mrinal Sen

Courtesy Riyaz Ahamed

Mrinal Sen was born on 14th May 1923 in Faridpur, Bengal presidency, now in Bangladesh. After finishing school, he came to Calcutta (now Kolkata) to study physics at Scottish Church College. During this time, he got involved with the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India, but he never took membership of the party. Later he associated himself with the socialist Indian People’s Theatre Association.

His interest in film started when he first stumbled upon a book on film aesthetics. He made his directorial debut with the movie Raat Bhore (The Dawn),1955, which had legendary actor Uttam Kumar but the movie was a flop. His second movie Neel Akasher Neechey (Under the Blue Sky), in 1958, was banned by the Government Of India, making it the first film to be banned in Independent India but earned him respect and recognition from locals. His third film Baishey Shravana, 1960 (based on the day Kabiguru Rabindranath Thakur’s died ), gave him international exposure.

In a career spanning almost five decades, Sen witnessed deadly close-quarter combat between Maoists guerilla’s and Police, the fall of Leftists, and the rise of right-wing nationalists in his beloved states. All these incidents left unerasable stains in his memory which we witness through his works. Calcutta Trilogy written by Sen – Interview, Calcutta 71 and Padatik is considered to be a masterpiece.

Throughout his career, Mrinal sen has made numerous films in various languages. Movies such as Mrigaya (The Royal Hunt), KandaharParashuram won national and international awards. He won many awards and Honours. In 1981, he was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. The government of France in 1985 awarded him the highest civilian honour of France Ordre des Arts et des Lettres ( Orders of Arts and Letters ). In 2000, Vladimir Putin honoured him Order of Friendship. In 2005, he was awarded Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour given to an Indian filmmaker for 2003.

He was also an honorary member of Rajya Sabha, Indian Parliament, between 1998 and 2003.

Sen was suffering from an age-related illness for a long time. According to a Bengali newspaper, he died of a heart attack. Condolences have been pouring from all section of society as the news of his departure spread.

PM Modi said, “Our country is grateful to Shri Mrinal Sen for giving us some of the most memorable films. The dexterity and sensitivity with which he made films is noteworthy. His rich work is admired across generations. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and admirers.”

PM Modi on Mrinal Sen

“Saddened at the passing away of Mrinal Sen. A great loss to the film industry. My condolences to his family”, tweeted Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

Mamata Banerjee on Mrinal Sen

Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, “T 3043 – Mrinal Sen no more .. a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind, contemporary of Satyajit Ray and Rithik Ghatak.. I did my first ever voice over in his film BHUVAN SHOME .. prayers and condolences.”

Amitabh Bachchan on Mrinal Sen

Today we have lost the last of three triumvirates of directing legends. He will be remembered as one of very few who dared to swim against the tide. A creative genius whose magisterial works will continue to remind us of a golden era of Indian cinema.

Image Courtesy : Zee news 


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