Mrinal Sen, born on this day at Faridpur in 1923 is one of the stalwarts of Bangla film. He is regarded as one of the three directors along with Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak to take Bangla cinema into a new height and hoisted its flag in the global arena. Mrinal, a philosophical film maker, not only portrays the aberration of the society but also enters deep into it. Mrinal, a lifelong revolutionary also takes different approach to communicate with his audience. His films repeatedly ask questions, shake the mind of the viewer and expose the maladies of the society. His technique is sublime. He often breaks the barrier between reality and virtual world- sort of method often used in Drama so that the viewers are not only engrossed but also at the same time can distinguish the difference between in and off the screen scenario. During the current era, an epoch of turbulence, inequality and intolerance we must see more and more of Mrinal to find out the causes and keep our thinking going. Mrinal, endowed with relentless awards, does not make film for entertainment but to provoke thinking. Here are five of his films:
Bhuvan Shome (1969)
In modern Indian film it set a landmark. The storyline of the film is taken by famous short story writer Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay(pen name Banaphul). The film shows how an elite, upper class, urbane individual gets back in touch with nature and its tranquility. It shows how nature soothes the restlessness and toxicity of the urban mind.
Calcutta 71 (1972)
The movie is the second part of his trilogy whose other two films are Interview and Padatik. The trilogy deals with the tumultuous time of 70 in Calcutta and this very film depicted the agony of the refuges those flew from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) following the heinous act of Pakistan army.
This is a Hindi film that depicts the woes of the Indian poor people in the rural area during 1920. Mrinal, a lifelong humanist, shows how those people were exploited both by British rulers and Indian landlords. The movie got numerous national awards.
Akaler Shandhaney (1980)
The famine of 1943 in Bengal killed five million people and that manmade disaster is one of the most shambolic ones in human history. Mrinal choose the famine as the theme of the film but the maestro did not just depict the disaster but he also linked that past with the present and depicted how the human greed still creates those famines till date and how actually ‘famine-seekers’ get profit from the woes of others. The film was awarded in the Berlin International Film Festival in 1981.
The film is based on an apparently simple story as a child servant was found dead in the kitchen of a ‘kind’ middle class family out of suffocation. Mrinal shows with his tactile method that despite the apparent naivety of the urban middle class the class difference exists acrimoniously and leaves us with many questions. The film was adjudged for the Jury Prize of the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.