Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen, known for his contribution to Bengali parallel cinema, died today at his residence at the age of 95. He breathed his last at around 10:30 am due to age-related ailments.
He, along with his contemporaries Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, was considered a doyen of regional parallel cinema internationally, reports NDTV.
Along with his contemporaries Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, he was often considered to be one of the greatest ambassadors of Bengali parallel cinema on the global stage.
Like the works of Ray and Ghatak, his cinema was known for its artistic depiction of social reality. Although the three directors shared a healthy rivalry, they were ardent admirers of each other’s work, and in so doing, they charted the independent trajectory of parallel cinema, as a counterpoint to the mainstream fare of Hindi cinema in India. Sen was an ardent follower of Marxist philosophy.
Sen was born on 14 May 1923, in the town of Faridpur, now in Bangladesh in a Hindu family. After finishing high school there, he left home to come to Calcutta as a student. He studied physics at the well-known Scottish Church College, and subsequently earned a postgraduate degree at the University of Calcutta. As a student, he got involved with the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India.
Although he never became a member of the party, his association with the socialist Indian People’s Theatre Association brought him close to a number of like-minded culturally associated people.
Early interest in cinema Sen’s interest in films started after he stumbled upon a book on film aesthetics. However, his interest remained mostly intellectual, and he was forced to take up the job of a medical representative, which took him away from Calcutta. This did not last very long, and he came back to the city and eventually took a job as an audio technician in a Calcutta film studio, which launched his film career.
Mrinal Sen made his first feature film, Raat Bhore, in 1955. It had the iconic Uttam Kumar who was not a star then. The movie was a let-down. His next film, Neel Akasher Neechey (Under the Blue Sky), earned him local recognition, while his third film, Baishey Shravan (the day when Rabindranath Tagore died), was his first film that gave him international exposure.
Apart from winning National Awards, in 2005, he received the country’s highest film honor, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
He was awarded Padma Bhushan – India’s third highest civilian award – in 1983.
Tributes for the icon have started pouring in on social media. President Ram Nath Kovind called his death a loss to world cinema.