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‘Iconoclast’ filmmaker Mrinal Sen dead

Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m. after a cardiac arrest, his family physician said.



Mrinal Sen

Kolkata, Dec 30 (IANS) Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen famed for his ability to put searching questions before the society — especially the middle class, died at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday following old age complications, family sources said.

Sen, 95, a widower, is survived by his only son Kunal.

Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m. after a cardiac arrest, his family physician said.

His demise brings the curtains down on one of the most glorious chapters of filmmaking in India, where Sen and late directors Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak are revered as the ‘trinity’ for giving birth to the parallel (or new) cinema movement in the country.

The “trinity” gave a new direction to the idea of filmmaking in India, displaying spontaneity, aesthetic sense and deep knowledge of the medium, that made the world look up in wonder and respect at their creations.

Born on May 14, 1923, at Faridpur (now in Bangladesh), Sen made his first Bengali film “Rat Bhore” (The Dawn) in 1953, but it was his second directorial effort “Neel Akasher Niche” (Under the Blue Sky) that received acclaim in the country for its lyricism and humane qualities.

Sen followed it up with “Baishey Shravan” (Wedding Day), that earned him plaudits from the critics beyond Indian shores.

In 1969, Sen worked on a small budget provided by the Central government to direct “Bhuvan Shome” (Mr. Shome) — a film regarded as an important milestone in the new cinema film movement in India.

A lifelong Leftist, who, however, never took the membership of any communist party in India, Sen has left behind a rich repertoire of 27 feature films, 14 shorts and four documentaries during a career spanning six decades.

Among his other venerated films are “Interview” (1971), “Ek Adhuri Kahani” (An Unfinished Story, 1971), “Calcutta 71” (1972), “Chorus” (1974), “Mrigayaa” (in Hindi – The Royal Hunt, 1976), “Oka Oori Katha” (in Telugu – The Outsiders, 1977), “Ek Din Pratidin” (And Quiet Rolls the Dawn, 1979), “Akaler Sandhane” (In Search of Famine, 1980), “Chalchitra” (The Kaleidoscope, 1981), “Kharij” (The Case Is Closed, 1982), “Khandhar” (The Ruins, 1983), “Genesis” (1986), “Ek Din Achanak” (Suddenly, One Day, 1989).

His last film “Aamaar Bhuvan” (This, My Land) came in 2002.

An intellectual par excellence and a great conversationist, Sen regaled in calling himself an “iconoclast” and “By accident, a maker of films”.

Widely feted, Sen received the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Dadasaheb Phalke — the highest award in Indian cinema — in 2005, the French government’s Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et letters (Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters) in 2001, and Order of Friendship from the Russian government in the same year.

He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003, and president of the International Federation of the Film Societies for some time.

Respected across the globe, Sen served as a member of International Jury at various film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Tehran, Mannheim, Nyon, Chicago, Ghent, Tunis and Oberhausen.

He came out with his autobiography “Always Being Born” in 2004.

Condoling Sen’s death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said “it is an irreparable loss to the world of filmmaking”.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “Mrinal Sen no more… a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind, contemporary of Satyajit Ray and Rithik Ghatak. I did my first ever voiceover in his film ‘Bhuvan Shome’. Prayers and condolences.”

Famous Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta termed Sen’s death as “the end of an era”.

Acclaimed Bengali actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen, who worked in three films made by Sen, said more than a director and a colleague, he was like a family member.

Film and stage actor Kaushik Sen, who debuted in Sen’s film “Ek Din Pratidin” as a child actor, was at a loss for words.

“My relationship with Mrinal Sen was very personal… cannot say much at this point. I learnt a lot of technical things about acting and filmmaking from him. I first acted in front of the camera because of him and my first film was also directed by him. I have also acted in the last film made by him,” Kaushik said.

Veteran actor Ranjit Mullick, who also made his acting debut under Sen, grieved at the “painful news”.

“Mrinal Sen’s name is pronounced with stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak in the same breath. I cannot believe he is no more. It is a painful news. He had a great sense of humour,” Ranjit said.

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“Period. End of Sentence” lands Oscar nomination




Los Angeles, Jan 22 “Period. End of Sentence”, an India set film on the taboos around menstruation and featuring the real ‘Pad Man’, has made it to the Oscar nomination, it was announced here on Tuesday.

The film has made it to the top five nominees of the Documentary Short Subject category. Other nominees include “Black Sheep”, “End Game”, “Lifeboat” and “A Night At The Garden”.

“Period…” is executive produced by Guneet Monga and is co-produced by Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, which has backed films like “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”.

Ecstatic about making the cut, Monga told IANS over phone: “We made it… It is beyond everything we thought.”

The film is about women in India fighting against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation and delving upon the work of real life ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam Muruganathan.

Directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi, the film is created by The Pad Project, an organisation established by an inspired group of students at the Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their teacher, Melissa Berton.

The 26-minute film follows girls and women in Hapur in northern India and their experience with the installation of a pad machine in their village.

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People still get moved by Anuradha Paudwal’s performances, says son Aditya




New Delhi, Jan 22 : It has been a while since singer Anuradha Paudwal lent her voice to Bollywood films. But her son Aditya Paudwal, a music arranger and producer, says the singer, who now focuses more on devotional music, is still able to move people through her performances.

Anuradha has given many hit Bollywood songs like “Dil hai ke manta nahin”, “Jaane jigar jaaneman” and “Mujhe neend na aaye”.

Asked if he misses her singing Bollywood songs, Aditya told IANS in an email interview: “She has made a mark in devotional music. People still get moved by her performances. I have seen people’s lives changing after listening to her devotional ‘aartis’ and ‘mantras’.

“I would like to come up with a composition for my mother,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aditya is currently associated with “Thackeray”. He is the song arranger and producer of “Saheb tu” from the film which is based on the life of Shiv Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray.

“When I was working with (composers) Rohan-Rohan on a Marathi film’s score, they had mentioned to me about this song which they wanted on a epic scale with symphonic kind of an arrangement. This song basically shows the journey of Balasaheb Thackeray,” he said.

“This is the first time that a 72-piece orchestra has recorded in one go in a studio,” he added.

On why the song has an European feel, Aditya shared: “The film is set in the 1950s to the 1960s.”

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Madhavan’s painfully long transformation for ‘Rocketry…’




Mumbai, Jan 22 : Actor R. Madhavan says getting the look of scientist and aerospace engineer S. Nambi Narayanan for “Rocketry – The Nambi Effect” was a “painfully long” process.

“The process took painfully long…about 2 days of sitting on a chair for 14 hours at a stretch,” Madhavan said in a statement.

“Initially it looked easy but later I realised how tough it was on the body,” he added.

The actor says getting the look right is “definitely half the battle won”.

“But the other half was really really tough because the age group I’m playing is around 70-75. Mr. Nambi is a very good-looking man and he has got his own charm and charisma so it took me around two-and-a-half years to actually imbibe him and learn how to walk like him.It wasn’t easy and it’s probably one of the toughest looks and characters I’ve had to pull off”.

The film is based on the life of the scientist. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Narayanan was in-charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 1996 and the Supreme Court declared him not guilty in 1998.

Madhavan has got the look right, and the actor says the biggest encouragement came from Narayanan himself.

“Nambi sir couldn’t stop laughing and getting amused by my look. There are so many pictures on the set that it looks almost eeriely how similar we both look.”

The film is slated for a release later this year.

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