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Indie Birds – The Lesser Acclaimed Film Directors of Bengali Cinema

Bengali cinema has seen many bright directors since its inception. The great Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha are a few who established themselves globally as great directors. However, besides these top few names, there are also some directors who gained fame by presenting some valued films, although they were branded as commercial film makers. Ajoy Kar, Asit Sen and Tarun Majumdar are a few names that come first to the mind, in this category. There are some more directors namely Rajen Tarafdar, Barin Saha and Arabinda Mukhopadhyay also, but they made very few films. There was also a time when a group of directors made films for good entertainment. The groups Agradoot & Yatrik belonged to this category.

Film Director Mrinal Sen. Express archive photo by RL Chopra

Ajoy Kar started his career as a cameraman and later started directing films with great settings. He made Jighangsha a film in the early 1950s based on the famous Hound of the Baskervilles, and it became an instant sensation. Harano Sur, an Uttam Kumar – Suchitra Sen starrer, made him famous in the late 1950s and after that he became an established director with a number of hits in his kitty. Saptapadi, another blockbuster, was also made by him. Then came Atal Jaler Ahwan, Kanchkata Heere, Parineeta etc. with Soumitra Chatterjee as the leading hero. His Saat Pake Bandha, another huge hit, fetched laurels for the leading actress, Suchitra Sen, across film festivals. Being a superb cameraman, himself, he knew what would be the perfect angles, for the picturisation of a scene in a good film.

Asit Sen was also a good director and his many films were re-made in Hindi Cinema at a later stage. The most famous of his films was Deep Jwele Jai. Suchitra Sen played the lead actress in the film, and received several awards for this role. Later this film was re-made in Hindi as Khamoshi, with Waheeda Rehman in the lead, which also received much appreciation by the audience. Another of his films, Uttar Phalguni was produced by Uttam Kumar, and became a big hit. The lead actress was again, Suchitra Sen and her acting with the emotional storyline made the film unique in itself. This film was also re-made as Mamta, with Suchitra Sen herself in the Hindi version as well. Mr. Sens another, though lesser known, film Swaralipi was made with Soumitra Chatterjee and Supriya Choudhury as in the lead. The storyline was based on the struggle of a refugee girl from partitioned Bengal, aspiring to become a lead singer in the commercial world, who loses her voice and then regains it later in the film. Geeta Dutt was the key playback singer in the film, which was among the last of her career.

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