Buddhadeb Dasgupta, one of the greatest directors in Indian cinema, passed away on June 10 in Kolkata. The 77-year-old director was suffering from kidney-related ailments for quite some time. He is survived by wife Sohini Dasgupta, also a film-maker, and two daughters.
Born in Purulia in 1944, Dasgupta was a highly acclaimed film-maker with countless national and international awards. He graduated from Scottish Church College in Kolkata and started his career as a lecturer in economics. He soon turned to film-making and took to making documentaries in the late 1960s.
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His first feature film was Dooratwa (1978). Among his important works are Phera (1988), Bagh Bahadur (1989), Tahader Katha (1992), Charachar (1994), Uttara (2000), Mondo Meyer Upakhyan (2002), Kalpurush (2005) and Tope (2016)
If Bagh Bahadur is a story of a man who paints himself like a tiger and dances in a village in rural Bengal, Charachar deals with a bird catcher’s empathy for birds and how it affects his livelihood.
Kalpurush, which won a national award for Best Feature Film in 2006, is a story of a father and son told in a non-linear format across two timelines. In 2020, he completed his last film The Flight (Urojahaj), which describes the mad dream of a simple man to fly the rusted shell of a downed World War II Japanese fighter plane that he finds in a forest.
A poet at heart, the film-maker won five national awards for Best Film and two for Best Director. The subject and treatment of his films took the audience beyond realism and delved into magic realism and at times surrealism.
The subject of many of his films, drawn from Bengali literature, dealt with rural Bengal, but he took the stories beyond realism, often adding an element of fantasy, magic, realism and the lyricism of poetry to the images on screen.
Despite critical acclaim and success, the film-maker stayed away from the limelight and was shy of award functions, including the Kolkata International Film Festival. In an interview to The Hindu in 2016, Dasgupta said that he did not like the “hype around the awards and why he still suffers from creative unhappiness”.
“Nobody should talk about a film or refer to a film or a director keeping in mind that this film or director has got so many awards. Nobody remembers these awards. Even your wife does not remember how many awards you have got,” he said.
The film-maker said that he took it as an insult when somebody introduced him “as a national award-winning director”.
Dasgupta, who spent his life making films he believed in and did not yield to the pressures of populism or market forces, was also a poet. He made several documentaries and served as the chairman of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed condolences over the death of the maverick film-maker.
“He was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award at Spain International Film Festival and Golden Award in Athens International Film Festival, Golden Bear Award at Berlin International Film Festival and several other honours. His death is an irreparable loss to the film fraternity,” Ms. Banerjee said.
Dasgupta’s works struck chord with all: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish on Thursday at the death of film director Buddhadeb Dasgupta, and noted that his diverse works struck a chord with all sections of society.
Mr. Modi tweeted, “Anguished by the demise of Shri Buddhadeb Dasgupta. His diverse works struck a chord with all sections of society. He was also an eminent thinker and poet. My thoughts are with his family and several admirers in this time of grief. Om Shanti!.”