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Indian director Mrinal Sen died Sunday in his hometown of Kolkata after a prolonged illness. He was 95.
Sen formed the acclaimed trio of legendary directors Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak from the eastern state of Bengal who pioneered a new wave in Indian cinema which also won international acclaim.
Born in 1925 in Faridpur in undivided India during British rule in what is now Bangladesh, Sen made his directing debut in 1955 with Raat Bhore and went on to gain recognition for his subsequent films, 1959’s Neel Akasher Neechey and 1960’s Baishey Shravana.
His filmography was known for both Bengali and Hindi films. Perhaps one of his most well-known works, 1969’s Bhuvan Shome, is considered a landmark film that revolved around an uncompromising civil servant who undergoes a transformation when he decides to go on a hunt. The Hindi language film starred Utpal Dutt in the lead and also featured a voiceover by Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan. Bhuvan Shome picked up three National Awards, including best film, best director and best actor for Dutt.
Sen’s trilogy of films from the ’70s, Interview, Calcutta 71 and Padatik are considered classics for reflecting the reality of social and political upheaval in Kolkata during that decade.
As his career progressed, Sen went on to win international acclaim, picking up a grand jury prize in Berlin for 1981’s Akaler Sandhane while 1983’s Kharj won him a jury prize at Cannes. His 1989 feature Ek Din Achanak bagged an honorable mention in Venice.
Sen’s last film was Aamaar Bhuvan which released in 2002. He was bestowed India’s highest cinematic honor, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005.
As a tribute to Sen, the 2010 Cannes festival screened his acclaimed 1983 title Kandahar, which was restored by India’s National Film Archives. Last year, Sen was among the record 774 members invited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Tributes for the late icon included a statement from India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, who said, “His penetrating and sensitive portrayal of social realities made him a fine chronicler of our times.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Sen’s work that “is admired across generations.”
Bachchan posted a tweet recalling that he did his first-ever voiceover for Bhuvan Shome and hailed Sen as “a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind.”
Sen is survived by his son Kunal. According to local reports, Sen’s last rites will be performed Wednesday.
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