Mrinal Sen Birth Anniversary: 8 lesser known facts about the iconic filmmaker

Mrinal Sen, one of the pioneers of parallel cinema in India, left an indelible mark on the world of filmmaking with his thought-provoking and socially relevant films. While his contributions to cinema are well-documented, there are some lesser-known facts about this iconic director that are worth exploring. 

  • Mrinal Sen’s career in cinema began in the ‘Studio Para’ at Tollygunge, Kolkata. He was introduced to the world of filmmaking when he started reading `Film as Art`, a book by famous German film theorist Rudolf Arnheim, at the National Library.
  • His first film, `Raat Bhor` was released in 1955. Interestingly, it also marked the debut of legendary Bengali actor Uttam Kumar. Unfortunately, `Raat Bhor` didn`t perform well at the box office. 
  • It was Mrinal Sen’s sophomore project, `Neel Akasher Neechey` (1959), which earned him recognition. His film `Baishe Srabon` (1960) was based on the tragic death of a child in a stampede during the cremation of Rabindranath Tagore. This film earned Sen International acclaim.
  • The 1961 film `Punascha` earned Sen his first award. The film received the National Award for the Best Film in Bengali and starred Dadasaheb Phalke award winner Soumitra Chatterjee.
  • `Calcutta-71`, a 1972 film by Sen depicted the social and political turmoil that Bengal had been going through from pre-Independence to contemporary times.
  • The 1980 film, `Akaler Sandhane` had won the most National Awards for Sen. It got the National Film Award for Best Feature Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Editing. It also won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the 31st Berlin International Film Festival.
  • Apart from Uttam Kumar, Sen also introduced Bollywood actor Mithun Chakrabarty to Indian cinema with the 1976 film `Mrigaya`.
  • Mrinal Sen was one of the few Indian filmmakers to have won awards at major international film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.

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