Hrishikesh Mukherjee is dead
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Hrishikesh Mukherjee is dead

Legendary filmmaker Hrishida, a Dada Saheb Phalke Award recipient, died at Mumbai's Leelavati Hospital. See pics

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 11:34 IST

Eminent filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee, whose depiction of the virtues and foibles of the middle class carved a new genre in Indian cinema and launched Amitabh Bachchan on path to superstardom, died in a hospital on Sunday of renal failure. He was 84.

Mukherjee is survived by three daughters and a son. His wife died more than 30 years ago and he lost another son some years ago.

The filmmaker was admitted to Leelavati Hospital in central Mumbai in critical condition in June following chronic renal failure, pneumonia and spesis, hospital sources said. He had been coming to the hospital regularly for dialysis. The end came at 1630 hours.

Mukherjee's funeral is likely to be held on Tuesday on return of his son from the United States late on Monday, family sources said.

Mukherjee directed many a blockbuster Hindi movie, regaling the audience with his typical 'Hrishida' touch. He won the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1999 and Padmavibhushan.

In a career spanning over half a century, Mukherjee made some memorable films including Anand, starring Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh among others, Abhimaan, featuring Amitabh and Jaya Bhaduri, Chupke Chupke with Amitabh, Jaya Bhaduri and Dharmendra in the cast and Khubsoorat starring Rekha.

Having done apprenticeship under legendary Bimal Roy, Mukherjee started his film career with Musafir in 1957 and his last work was Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate starring Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla, released in 1998.

Mukherjee gave cinema lovers some well-made films like Anand, which brought to the centre stage Bollywood's future superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Anuradha, Chupke Chupke, Bawarchi, Guddiand Rajnigandha. All these films have become milestones in Indian cinema.

Mukherjee also worked as writer for 15 films, including Namak Haram, Abhimaan, Bawarchiand Guddi. He was also involved as editor with 15 films.

Mukherjee's cinematic career started in a film laboratory before he graduated to the editing room with Kolkata-based New Theatres. He came to Mumbai in 1951 as part of Bimal Roy's team before branching out as a director.

His debut as a director -- Musafir-- featured three unrelated stories symbolising marriage, birth and death, with the common link being the house where the protagonists lived as tenants.

Mukherjee's breakthrough commercial success was Anari (1959), which starred Raj Kapoor and Nutan.

Award came to Mukherjee for the first time in 1960 when Anuradha, which dealt with a lively woman becoming frustrated after her idealistic husband neglects her to focus on his work as a doctor in a rural area, won the President's Medal.

In the following decade, Mukherjee made Asli Naqli (1962), Anupama(1966), Ashirwad(1968) and Satyakam(1969).

Anand, which he made in 1970, is regarded as the best film made by Mukherjee. Focussing on a man dying of cancer and featured what is considered one of Rajesh Khanna's best performances, the film for the first time brought to fore the acting talent of Amitabh Bachchan in the role of a doctor who overcomes cynicism after meeting the patient.

In the 1970s, regarded as the filmmaker's most creative phase of his career, Mukherjee directed a string of films that took a close look at the middle-class and human relationships. They included Guddi (1971), Bawarchi (1972), Abhimaan (1973), NamakHaram(1973) and Mili(1975).

He was best remembered also for the rollicking comedies Chupke Chupke(1975) and Golmaal(1979).

Mukherjee also served as chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification and of the National Film Development Corporation.

Mukherjee's death was condoled by the leading lights of Bollywood cutting across segments of filmmaking and President APJ Abdul Kalam and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee describing as a director who had created his own cinematic diction.

Kalam said in his death the film industry has lost a popular film-maker who was known for his simplicity and whose movies would move the audience emotionally.

Chatterjee said Mukherjee was known for his innovation and he took the standards in all areas related to film making to "great heights".

Leader of the Opposition LK Advani said "every single film produced by Mukherjee -- from Guddi and Anand to Bawarchi and Golmaal -- has been a memorable film."

"If the main function of cinema is accepted as healthy entertainment of the masses, Hrishi Da's name has been a synonym for scrupulously clean entertainment". Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said Mukherjee's "uncanny understanding of film and psychology is reflected in his immortal work which provided wholesome family entertainment."

The film industry personalities said Mukherjee left an indelible mark on Indian cinema with his style of direction and view of life.

First Published: Aug 27, 2006 18:26 IST