Kolkata: India mourned for the auteur, Mrinal Sen, on Sunday, as prominent personalities, from politicians to celebrities, paid glowing tributes to the genius filmmaker who died here following age-related ailments.
Sen, 95, the Dadasaheb Phalke award-winning film director, who was famed for his ability to put searching questions before the society – especially the middle class, died at around 10 a.m. at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday.
Leading the nation in the mourning were President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kovind lauded Sen for his “penetrating and sensitive portrayal of social realities”.
“Sad to learn of the passing of acclaimed film-maker Mrinal Sen. From ‘Bhuvan Shome’ to the ‘Calcutta’ trilogy, his penetrating and sensitive portrayal of social realities made him a fine chronicler of our times. A loss to Bengal, to India and to the world of cinema,” the President said on his official Twitter handle.
Modi said India is grateful to Sen for making some of the most memorable films.
“Our country is grateful to Shri Mrinal Sen for giving us some of the most memorable films. The dexterity and sensitivity with which he made films is noteworthy. His rich work is admired across generations. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and admirers,” Modi said on Twitter.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Sen’s demise was an “irreparable loss to the world of filmmaking.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “Mrinal Sen no more… a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind, contemporary of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. I did my first ever voiceover in his film ‘Bhuvan Shome’. Prayers and condolences.”
A number of prominent actors, filmmakers and technicians from Bengal, who had the privilege of working with the Padma Bhushan awardee filmmaker, called him a guiding light.
“I became speechless upon hearing the news. I had a word with him 12 days ago. He was like a banyan tree in the world cinema. For us, he was more like a guardian and guide. He always encouraged us to make good films, not worrying about fame or box office collections. We have tried to follow his footsteps as filmmakers,” Bengali filmmaker Goutam Ghose said of Sen, one of the greatest ambassadors of India’s parallel cinema on the global stage.
“We have a relationship for almost 60 years. I am deeply grieved at his demise. His passing away is the fall of the last banyan tree of the Bengali film industry,” said thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, who worked in four of Sen’s films including ‘Punascha’ (1962), ‘Akash Kusum’ (1965) and ‘Mahaprithibi’ (1991).
Veteran actor Dhritiman Chatterjee said, “For most of the actors of my generation, Sen was a guiding light. I knew him from much before I started acting. So his death is like losing someone I grew up idolising. I have so many fond memories of him on the sets. The experience of staying with him in rural Bengal while shooting for ‘Akaler Sandhane’ (In search of femine – 1980) is still fresh in my memory. It is disheartening but true that all the persons we grew up idolising are leaving us one by one. Their demise is making our lives emptier,” he said.
Bengali film and stage actor Kaushik Sen, who debuted in Sen’s film ‘Ak Din Pratidin’ as a child actor, said he did not have words to express the director’s influence on his career.
“My relationship with Sen was very personal, cannot say much at this point. I learnt a lot of technical things about acting and filmmaking from him. I first acted in front of the camera because of him and my first film was also directed by him. I have also acted in the last film made by him,” he said.
Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta expressed his grief and termed Sen’s death as “the end of an era”, while actor turned filmmaker Aparna Sen said more than a director and a colleague, Sen was like a family member.
Sen, a widower, is survived by his only son Kunal Sen.