One of the pioneers of Indian cinema, Mrinal Sen passed away on Sunday morning due to age-related ailments. He reportedly died of heart-attack at around 10:30 am at his Bhowanipore, Kolkata residence.
Mrinal, 95, a renowned name in the Bengali film industry, was born on May 14th, 1923, in Faridpur, now a part of Bangladesh. He moved to Kolkata to study physics but was drawn to film-making after reading a book on film aesthetics.
Mrinal made his directorial debut in 1955 with a feature film, Raat Bhore which starred Uttam Kumar. He is known for his acclaimed films like Neel Akasher Neechey, Baishey Sravan, Bhuvan Shome, Akaler Sandhane among others.
Here is a list of his top 10 best films:
1. Bhuvan Shome (1969)
Legendary actor Uttpal Dutt played the role of a bureaucrat who goes on a trip to Gujarat to find a girl, who helps him see things beyond his job. He won two National Film Awards for Best Director and Best Film for Bhuvan Shome.
2. Mrigayaa (1976)
Mrigaaya is based on a short story by Bhagbati Charan Panigrahi, titled Inaam. It featured Mithun Chakraborty who essayed the role of a tribal man. The film portrayed the relationship between the British colonialists and native villagers. This film received a National Award for Best Film.
3. Akash Kusum (1965)
Soumitra Chatterjee plays the role of a young man who dreams of moving up in life. He becomes wealthy by getting involved in a dangerous business deal. To maintain his status, he borrows a car and an apartment from his rich friend, that was played by Subhendu Chatterjee. He falls in love with a woman from a wealthy family and fails in telling her the truth and later suffers for his own deception.
4. Khandahar (1984)
This 1984 Bengali classic is also based on a Bengali short story, Telenapota Abishkar that revolves around a group of friends who go for a picnic in some rural ruins and find a mother-daughter duo that lives there. Starring Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Pankaj Kapur, the film won Mrinal Sen a National Film Award for Best Director.
5. Ek Din Pratidin (1979)
This Mrinal Sen directorial raised some vital questions on gender norms since the story revolves around the eldest daughter of a family who earns for the family and the males are dependent on her. Ek Din Pratidin won a National Award for Best Direction and also entered into the 1980 Cannes Film Festival.
6. Interview (1970)
Interview is considered to be the first instalment of Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta Trilogy that turned out to be a great commercially successful film. The other two are Calcutta 71 and Padatik. Ranjit Mullick plays a smart young man in this film. According to Mrinal, the film dealt with the colonial hangover, but it also touched upon the diverse issue of anti-establishment, middle class cowardice, unemployment.
7. Calcutta 71 (1972)
Calcutta 71, believed to be the second instalment of Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta Trilogy, is based on four short stories by renowned writers. All the stories are interlinked and leave strong messages. It took five years to make the film and was finally released in 1972.
8. Padatik (1973)
Padatik, believed to be the third from Mrinal’s Calcutta Trilogy collection, is set in the backdrop of the early 1970s, Kolkata. Mrinal highlighted the salient issues amid a period of political turmoil. The film is about a young political activist (Dhritiman Chatterjee) who escapes a prison van and takes shelter in a posh apartment that is owned by a sensitive young woman who is a divorcee (Simi Garewal).
Apart from winning National Awards, Mrinal also received the country’s highest film honour, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005. Prior to that, he was awarded Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in 1983. Sen was also honoured with the Order of Friendship by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2000.