Mrinal Sen: Wikis


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Mrinal Sen
মৃনাল সেন
Born May 14, 1923 (1923-05-14) (age 86)
Faridpur, East Bengal, British India

Mrinal Sen (Bengali: মৃনাল সেন, also spelled Mrinal Shen) is a famous Bengali Indian filmmaker. He was born on 14 May 1923, in the town of Faridpur, now in Bangladesh in a Hindu Kulin Kayasth family. After finishing his high school there, he left home to come to Calcutta as a student and studied physics at the well-known Scottish Church College and at the University of Calcutta. As a student, he got involved with the cultural wing of the Communist party . Although he never became a member of the party, his association with the socialist Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA ) brought him close to a number of like-minded culturally associated people.


Early life

His interest in films started after he stumbled upon a book on film aesthetics. However his interest remained mostly intellectual, and he was forced to take up the job of a medical representative, which took him away from Calcutta. This did not last very long, and he came back to the city and eventually took a job of an audio technician in a Calcutta film studio, which eventually launched his film career.

His directorial debut

Mrinal Sen made his first feature film, Raatbhor, in 1955. His next film, Neel Akasher Neechey (Under the Blue Sky), earned him local recognition, while his third film, Baishey Shravan (Wedding Day) was his first film that gave him international exposure.

Sen and New Cinema in India

After making five more films, he made a film with a shoe-string budget provided by the Government of India. This film, Bhuvan Shome (Mr. Shome), finally launched him as a major filmmaker, both nationally and internationally. Bhuvan Shome also initiated the “New Cinema” film movement in India.


Social context and its political influence

The films that he made next were overtly political, and earned him the reputation as a Marxist artist. This was also the time of large-scale political unrest throughout India. Particularly in and around Calcutta, this period underwent what is now known as the Naxalite movement. This phase was immediately followed by a series of films where he shifted his focus, and instead of looking for enemies outside, he looked for the enemy within his own middle class society. This was arguably his most creative phase.

Depiction of Kolkata

In many Mrinal Sen movies from Punascha to Mahaprithibi, Kolkata features prominently. He has shown Kolkata as a character, and as an inspiration. He has beautifully woven the people, value system, class difference and the roads of the city into his movies and coming of age for Kolkata, his El-Dorado.[1]

Experimentation, recognition and acclaim

During this period, he won a large number of international awards. It could be argued that although his films show the development of ideas from existentialism, surrealism, Marxism, German expressionism , French Nouvelle Vague and Italian neorealism, in their stylistic nuances, these films often parallel the cinema of Woody Allen. Like Allen's cinema, Sen's cinema for the most, do not provide a happy ending or a definitive conclusion (unlike many of the films of Sen's better known contemporary Satyajit Ray). In many of Sen's later films, the audience becomes a participant in the process of the development of the plot. The director invites and provokes the audience into a shared process of forming multiple conclusions, that are at the same time unique and different. The director does not play the role of god, his audience does. It is not really surprising that unlike Allen who has a steady niche audience in the Western literati and aficionados, Sen's experimentation with parallel cinema had significantly cost him much of a devoted audience composing of largely the Calcutta based westernized intelligentsia.

Mrinal Sen never stopped experimenting with his medium. In his later films he tried to move away from the narrative structure and worked with very thin story lines. After a long gap of eight years, at the age of eighty, he made his latest film, Aamaar Bhuvan, in 2002.

During his career, Mrinal Sen’s film have received awards from almost all major film festivals, including (Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Montreal, Chicago, and Cairo). Retrospectives of his films have been shown in almost all major cities of the world. He has also received a number of honorary doctorate degrees (D.Litt Honoris Causa) from various universities, both in India and abroad. Mrinal Sen was also elected as the president of the International Federation of the Film Societies. He received the Taj Enlighten Tareef Award which is given for a lifetime contribution to the world of cinema in 2008. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 10th edition of the Osian's Cinefest Film Festival 2008.


National awards

National Film Awards

Best Director
1969 Bhuvan Shome
1980 Ek Din Pratidin
1984 Akaler Sandhane
Best Screenplay
1974 Padatik
1983 Akaler Sandhane
1984 Kharij

Filmfare Awards

Critics Award for Best Film
1976 Mrigayaa
Best Screenplay
1984 Khandhar

International awards

Moscow International Film Festival - Silver Prize
1975 Chorus
1979 Parashuram

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
1977 Oka Oori Katha

Berlin International Film Festival
Interfilm Award
1979 Parashuram
1981 Akaler Sandhane
Grand Jury Prize
1981 Akaler Sandhane

Cannes Film Festival - Jury Prize
1983 Kharij

Valladolid International Film Festival - Golden Spike
1983 Kharij

Chicago International Film Festival - Gold Hugo
1984 Khandhar

Montreal World Film Festival - Special Prize of the Jury
1984 Khandhar

Venice Film Festival - Honorable Mention
1989 Ek Din Achanak

Cairo International Film Festival - Silver Pyramid for Best Director
2002 Aamaar Bhuvan

State honours

He is also the recipient of many state-awarded honors.


  • He is a friend of Gabriel García Márquez and had often been invited as a judge in international film festivals.
  • In 2004, Mrinal Sen completed his autobiographical book, Always Being Born.


Feature Films

Short Films

  • Ichhapuran (The Wish Fulfillment) (1970)
  • Tasveer Apni Apni (Portrait of an Average Man) (1984)
  • Aparajit (Unvanquished) (1986-87)
  • Kabhi Door Kabhi Paas (Sometimes Far, Sometimes Near) (1986-87)
  • Swamvar (The Courtship) (1986-87)
  • Aina (The Mirror) (1986-87)
  • Ravivar (Sunday) (1986-87)
  • Aajkaal (These Days) (1986-87)
  • Do Bahene (Two Sisters) (1986-87)
  • Jit (Win) (1986-87)
  • Saalgira (Anniversary) (1986-87)
  • Shawl (1986-87)
  • Ajnabi (The Stranger) (1986-87)
  • Das Saal Baad (Ten Years Later) (1986-87)


  • Moving Perspectives (1967)
  • Tripura Prasanga (1982)
  • City Life - Calcutta My El Dorado (1989)
  • And the Show Goes On - Indian Chapter (1999)

Films on Mrinal Sen

  • Ten Days in Calcutta - A Portrait of Mrinal Sen (Directed by Reinhard Hauff) (1984)
  • With Mrinal Sen (Directed by Sanjay Bhattacharya and Rahul Bose) (1989)
  • Portrait of a Filmmaker (Directed by Romesh Sharma) (1999)


External links


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