Mrinal Sen

Mrinal Sen entered the world of arts through the Indian Peoples Theatre Association (IPTA) in 1943. He made his first film Raat Bhor in 1956. Deeply influenced by the leftist ideology, most of his films dealt with social and political themes. His second film Neel Akasher Neechey was banned by the Government for two months in 1958. In most of his films, he has discussed in depth, the complexities of the middle-class urban life in Bengal. He has also made films in Oriya, Telugu and Hindi.

Mrinal Sen won the National award for Best Film four times. His films were screened in a number of International film festivals and also won several awards. He has served as a jury member at the Cannes International Film Festival.





Notable Films:

Neel Akasher Neechey - 1958 - Bengali
(Under the Blue Sky)

Set in 1930s, the film tells the story of an honest Chinese hawker, Wang Lu, who sells silk in Calcutta's streets while refusing to get involved in the opium trade run by his fellow countrymen. He feels a sisterly affection towards Basanti engaged in a political group, the wife of a lawyer. Basanti is arrested and imprisoned causing Wang Lu to get involved with her political group. He later returns to China to join the resistance movement against the Japanese invasion of China in 1931.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Kali Bannerjee, Manju Dey, Bikash Roy, Smriti Biswas
Cinematography: Sailaja Chatterjee
Music: Hemanta Mukherjee



Akash Kusum - 1965 - Bengali
(Up in the Clouds)

Ajay Sarkar, a lower middle-class man pretends to be a successful businessman in order to win the hand of Monica, a girl from an affluent family. Finally, he is exposed as a con man. His business goes wrong and his romance comes to an end.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Aparna Sen, Soumitra Chatterjee
Cinematography: Sailaja Chatterjee
Music: Sudhin Dasgupta



Bhuvan Shome - 1969 - Hindi

Bhuvan Shome is a lonely widower, a proud old man and a strict disciplinarian. Thoroughly unenchanted in life, he seeks escape in a holiday. While duck-shooting in Gujarat, Bhuvan Shome realises that the rejuvenation adventure would hurl him into a world so apart that he would find it the most joyful experience in his life. His new world consists of simple & uninitiated village folks, a bullock-cart drive, a marauding buffalo and Gouri. In Gouri, Bhuvan Shome finds a fresh, throbbing pulse in a dying world. And suddenly everything lights up, perhaps heightening his sense of isolation, in his newfound joy.

The success of Bhuvan Shome in Hindi triggered a new movement in the New Wave cinema in Hindi.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Utpal Dutt, Suhasini Mulay, Sadhu Meher
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: Vijaya Raghava Rao



Interview - 1970 - Bengali

The first of Mrinal Sen's Calcutta trilogy, speaks more explicitly about politics. Even after the colonial rule in India ended, the colonial symbols remained as status symbols. Ranjit cannot get a middle-class job just because he cannot get hold of a suit. Frustrated, he destroys a Western looking mannequin in a shop window, the symbol of aspirations and out-of-reach for the middle-class reality. The narrative is in a humorous way, as the mishaps and his frustration accumulate over a single day.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Ranjit Mullick, Karuna Bannerjee, Shekhar Chatterjee
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: Vijay Raghava Rao



Calcutta '71 - 1972 - Bengali

The second of Mrinal Sen's Calcutta trilogy, Calcutta '71 recounts three famous Bengali stories by three Bengali authors. Together with two contemporary episodes, each presents an aspect of poverty and exploitation: an angry young man on trial in 1971, a rainstorm in a slum in 1933, a lower-middle-class family during the 1943 famine, teenage smugglers in 1953 and a middle-class group in a posh hotel in 1971. The events are linked by an imaginary figure who, by 1971, has gained an insight into the dynamics of history and urges action for change.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Ranjith Mullick, Utpal Dutt, Geeta Sen, Madhabi Mukherjee
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: Ananda Shankar



Padatik - 1973 - Bengali
(The Guerrilla Fighter)

The final of the Calcutta trilogy, Padatik is set during the 1960s, after the Moscow-Beijing split and the Naxalite rising in India. A political activist, escaped from police custody is sheltered by an upper-class woman who stays alone in a comfortable flat after leaving her husband. This isolated life gives him an opportunity to re-asses the political situation in Bengal. Eventually he leaves the flat to meet his ailing mother.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Simi Garewal, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Bijon Bhattacharya
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: Ananda Shankar



Ek Din Pratidin - 1979 - Bengali
(And Quiet Rolls the Day)

Hrishikesh Sen Gupta, with his wife and five children, lives on his eldest daughter Chinu's earnings. Chinu also pays for the education of the four younger children. One evening she does not return from the office. The family grows increasingly worried as the time passes and realises how dependent they are on her labour.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Satya Bannerjee, Geeta Sen, Mamata Shankar
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: B V Karanth



Khandhar - 1983 - Hindi
(The Ruins)

Khandahar was Mrinal Sen's major departure from his political cinema of 1970s. Three friends take a couple of days off and run away from the mad hurry of city life to enjoy themselves in the silence of the ruins, which once was a huge mansion of a feudal estate. In the midst of desolation lives a family of two, a mother and her daughter, heirs to a portion of the derelict mansion. The mother is sick, paralysed, and blind, surviving on a hope that a distant nephew of hers will one day come and, as promised, marry the daughter. But the fact is otherwise: the young man is now with his wife and a child living, perhaps, a settled life in the city. The daughter knows the truth but keeps it to herself. Two days and a half are enough to build a cruel story when, having been thrown into a peculiar situation, the visitors and the daughter are forced to go through a nerve breaking exercise, acting a dreadful play and giving an impression to the ailing and blind mother that the photographer among the visitors is the one who once promised to come and marry the daughter.

After two days and a half, the three friends prepare to leave the ruins and go back to the city. Just before they leave, the photographer and the girl have a short meeting which excites a brief dialog and a mute understanding. Soon after the photographer is back at his post in his studio and the girl is left to terrifying loneliness and to her mother who now will know the whole truth. And life goes on.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Gita Sen, Pankaj Kapoor, Sreela Mazumder, Rajen Tarafdar, Annu Kapoor
Cinematographer: K K Mahajan
Music: Bhaskar Chandavharkar



Ek Din Achanak - 1988 - Hindi
(Suddenly One Day)

A retired professor suddenly disappears one day. The film develops as the memories of a wife, children and friends, who wait for him for months.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Shriram Lagoo, Uttara Baokar, Shabana Azmi, Aparna Sen
Cinematography: K K Mahajan
Music: Jyotishka Dasgupta





Antareen - 1993 - Bengali

A love story about a young writer in search of inspiration in an old country mansion, Antareen is a cinematic adoption of Sadat Hassan Manto's story. The young writer strikes up a telephonic relationship with an anonymous female caller. These conversations provide the writer with material for his fiction. In the end, the two protagonists meet each other in a train compartment.

Direction & Screenplay: Mrinal Sen
Cast: Anjan Dutt, Dimple Kapadia, Deepti Roy
Cinematography: Shashi Anand
Music: Shashi Anand

Filmography:

  • Raatbhor (1955)
  • Neel Akasher Neechey (1959)
  • Baishey Sravan (1960)
  • Punascha (1961)
  • Abasheshe (1963)
  • Pratinidhi (1964)
  • Akash Kusum (1965)
  • Matira Manisa (1966 - Oriya)
  • Bhuvan Shome (1969 - Hindi)
  • Ichhapuran (1970)
  • Interview (1970)
  • Ek Adhuri Kahani (1971- Hindi)
  • Kolkata 71 (1972)
  • Padatik (1973)
  • Chorus (1974)
  • Mrigaya (1976)
  • Oka Uri Katha (1977 - Telegu)
  • Parasuram (1978)
  • Ek Din Pratidin (1979)
  • Akaler Sandhane (1980)
  • Chalchitra (1981)
  • Kharij (1982)
  • Khandahar(1983 - Hindi)
  • Genesis (1986 - Hindi)
  • Ek din Achanak(1989 - Hindi)
  • Mahaprithibi (1991)
  • Antareen (1993 - Hindi)



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