Last of three iconic Bengali filmmakers of the 20th century along with Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, who died in December 2018 at the age of 95, would have celebrated his birthday today.
Sen was the pioneer who brought experimental cinema to India. He was the first director to use unusual camera movements, episodic storytelling and newsreel type editing in his cinema. His experimental cinema and his youth earned him the nickname “Maverick Maestro”.
As the world celebrates his birthday, we take a look at some lesser-known facts about the parallel cinema pioneer:
- Sen’s film career started at ‘Studio Para’ in Tollygunge, Kolkata. He was introduced to the world of cinema when he started reading Film as Art, a book by famous German film theorist Rudolf Arnheim, at the National Library.
- His first film was the 1955 release Raat Bhor. Interestingly, this also marked the debut of Uttam Kumar, but the film did not do well at the box office.
- It was Sen’s second film, Neel Akasher Neechey (1959), which first brought him recognition. His film Baishe Srabon (1960) was based on the tragic death of a child in a stampede at the cremation of Rabindranath Tagore. This film brought Sen international fame.
- The 1961 film Punascha won Sen his first award. The film received the National Award for Best Film in Bengali and starred Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner Soumitra Chatterjee.
- Calcutta-71, a 1972 film by Sen depicts the social and political turmoil Bengal has gone through from pre-independence to contemporary times.
- The 1980 film Akaler Sandhane had won the most national awards for Sen. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing. It also won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the 31st Berlin International Film Festival.
- Besides Uttam Kumar, Sen also introduced Mithun Chakrabarty to Indian cinema with the 1976 film Mrigaya.
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