The iconic director and one of the pioneers of parallel cinema, Mrinal Sen passed away on Sunday in Kolkata, aged 95. Sen has acclaimed recognition worldwide, winning awards at both National and International platforms. Through his heart set to experiment, he pushed a new wave into the Indian cinema through films entrenched with social, political and humanistic messages.
Let's look upon the magic he spread into the Indian Film industry with his rebellious stories and widely recognised direction.
Bhuvan Shome (1969)
Bhuvan Shome (1969), that won Mrinal Sen 'National Film Award For Best Director', set a new wave in Indian Cinema. The film incited the rigid urban-rural divide with the protagonist, Bhuvan Shome played by Utpal Dutt who entered a world that seemed new to him. The widower was shown to be a disciplined "big officer" in the Indian Railways. On one of his travels to hunt birds in rural Gujarat, he encountered a young girl Gauri, played by Suhasini Mulay. Narrated by Amitabh Bachchan, the film unraveled a love story where Gouri taught Shome the tricks to a successful hunt amid which he realised the depth of his loneliness and a world he created for himself that barred him an exit from it.
Bhuvan Shome also won the 'National Award for Best Film' and Protagonist Utpal Dutt won 'National Award for Best Actor'.
The Calcutta Trilogy (1971-1973)
Interview (1971), the Bengali art film touched upon the sundry issues of unemployment and cowardice. The film, known for its innovations and cinema techniques won the Critics Award at Sri Lanka Film Festival. The protagonist was played by Ranjit Mallick as a man hoping to get through a job interview at a renowned Indo-British firm. The priority of the interview lies in appearance. With the only best suit owned by the protagonist in the laundry and a luckless day where laundry shops were on a strike, what should be done? On a surge to find "The Suit", the haphazard and mishaps finally landed him at the interview. The film ends with a disappointing interview with an unseen spectator watching him throughout the film.
Calcutta 71 (1972)
Calcutta 71(1972), the second film from the Calcutta Trilogy, barged the issues of poverty, misery, and death through a compilation of four stories that projected the Seventies into the art film. Though the short stories revolved around the circumstances of poverty and degradation, every story differed in mindset and socio-economical backgrounds. An attempt to survive through starvation, succumbing to prostitution and hypocrisy built up to the end of the film with a 20-year-old youth's death.
Calcutta 71 won the "National Award for Best Cinematography" to K.K Mahajan.
Padatik (1973) voiced political disgruntlement at a time when it was highly discouraged. The third film from the Calcutta Trilogy shows the escape of a political activist from a prison van. He found shelter in the posh apartment of a sensitive young woman who happened to be a social activist. Both the characters' activism stemmed from a common disappointment with the government. His, from lack of leadership and hers, due to social injustices. Upon mistaking the woman's kindness for something more, the film ended with the Political activist returning home to take care of his ill mother.
Written for the screen by Mrinal Sen and Ashish Burman, Padatik won the "National Award for Best Screenplay".
Ek Din Pratidin (1979)
Ek Din Pratidin (1979), directed by Mrinal Sen was based on the plot of profound hidden strength. One night, the only bread-winner of the house, the daughter belonging to an economically middle-class family failed to return home from work. Amid the family panic, erratic searches at midnight and crisis that arose out of economic and moral constraints in the prevalent society, the film still instigated a sense hope in despair.
Ek Din Pratidin won the National Awards for - Best Film in Bengali, Best Director, and Best Editing.
Amaar Bhuvan (2002)
Amaar Bhuvan (2002), was the last film that Mrinal Sen directed. The script of the film was based on a novel 'Dhanjyotsna' written by Afsar Ahmed. It is based in a place in India that engulfs peace and love amid the hatred surrounded elsewhere. A tale of marriage and remarriage while maintaining prior bonds is depicted in the story with protagonists Sakhina played by Nandita Das and Nur played by Saswata Chatterjee. Sakhina gets remarried to Nur's cousin who is unable to look after her and their three children, economically. Nur, however, upon returning from the middle-east as a wealthy man provides for his cousin and former wife.
Amaar Bhuvan won a couple of awards the Cairo International Film Festival where Nandita Das won the Best Actress and Mrinal Sen for Best Direction.
Some other award-winning films by Mrinal Sen include Mrigayaa(1976), Kharij (1982), and Khandaar (1984).