Norwegian actor and filmmaker Liv Ullmann once said, “Mrinal Sen’s films convey a cinematic protest against tyranny so effectively.” And, actor Naseeruddin Shah added: “Initially I thought Khandhar (a film by Sen released in 1984) was a boring film. Later, I understood, it was a cinematic journey — sheer poetry on celluloid.”
Mrinal Sen is the only living filmmaker of India who brought international laurels similar to Satyajit Ray, and, the icon turns 94 today. Though not physically well, he is mentally alert. Here, Mrinal Sen goes down memory lane recollecting three of his memorable creations.
Neel Akasher Niche (1956):
“I do not consider it a directional masterpiece. Yet, even today, viewers go nostalgic about Hemanta Mukherjee’s baritone rendering, “Neel Akhasher Niche Ei Prithibi” in the background. The affection and pathos of the Chinese (Wang Chu) performed to the hill by Kali Banerjee remains the highlight of Neel Akasher Niche.”
Bhuvan Shome, 1969: “Many consider Bhuvan Shome to be my best cinematic creation. A celluloid study of the decaying feudal system, it had Utpal Dutt and Suhasini Mulay, at their altruistic bests. In fact, Ashok Kumar was too keen to perform Utpal Dutt’s character. I deeply regretted as I had already signed Utpal Dutt. Dr. V. Shantaram was too keen to distribute it. Amitabh Bachhan gave his maiden voice over for Bhuvan Shome.”
Calcutta 71, 1971: “I was deeply moved by the political turbulence of the 70s. My Kolkata trilogy depicted those troubled days. In Calcutta 71, there were three stories woven into a single film. The narration was in poignant manner with socio-political questions. The climax reached epic proportions with Late Geeta’s (Sen) heart wrenching cry, ‘Gaurango, Gaurangore’. A mother’s guest for her son. Geeta rose to the occasion, even above my directional views.”