Mrinal Sen turned 89 on 14th May, 2012. In 2006, he completed the 50th year of his film career. In 1956, he made his first film 'Raat Bhor'. Interestingly, the film featured Chhabi Biswas, Uttam Kumar and Sabitri Chatterjee. In one of his interview for 'Raat Bhor', he said that he "should not have made it at all".
Mrinal Sen is turning 85 on 14th May, 2008. In 2006 he has completed 50th year of his film career. In 1956 he made his first film Raat Bhor. Interestingly the film has a cast of Chhabi Biswas, Uttam Kumar and Sabitri Chatterjee. In one of his interview of Raat Bhor he said should not have made it at all. Raat Bhor proved one thing that very big directors sometimes start in not so impressive manner.
But then what makes him big? Even after Raat Bhor his second film Neel Aakasher Neeche (1959) was a big cliché which according to him was a half success.
His film career started shaping up with Baishe Shraban (1960). And after that in every decade he broke himself, he remodeled his craft and a new Mrinal Sen emerged in the beginning of every subsequent decades. He made Bhuban Shome and Interview back-to-back in 1969-70. Then came Ekdin Pratidin and Akaler Sandhane in 1979-80. And again Ekdin Achanak in 1989-90. They were all of different styles.
In the beginning of ever decade we saw a new Mrinal Sen. He kept on changing his style of film making. This changing of his films made him unique.
He always used to say that his latest film is an extension of his earlier film. In one sense it is absolutely true. Though he always tried to evolve new styles, in almost every decade his principal concern remained the same.
His principal concern was to study human beings in different conditions of life. They may be urban people, they may be rural people and even they may be tribal people as in Mrigaya (1976). Once he said,
“...the flashpoint of my creative work has always been man in the particular situation… I have tried to throw a man in a situation and tried to see his reactions and in doing so Ive always tried to imagine myself in a situation like this…”
This Chaplinesque attitude of him gradually made him big from being just another director.
Satyajit Rays main concern was also a man in a particular situation. But their study was of different nature. If we were to analyze about their individual study of a man in a particular situation we will find a distinct difference between the two.
For example we will choose two films of the two directors. Pratidwandi by Satyajit Ray and Interview by Mrinal Sen.
In both the films the protagonists had to face an interview board for a job. In both the films the protagonists faced typical nonsense questions from the board members and in the both cases the protagonists ultimately didnt get the job. So the two protagonists were in the same situation.
But at the end they took two different ways to protest. The Rays protagonist left the violent city of the 70s and took a smaller job of a medical representative in a distant rural area where he found his lost childhood. Ray took us to a different sublime level if a humanity. Audience felt an elevation of understanding.
In contrast, Mrinal Sens protagonist did not leave the city. He instead broke the glass planes of a shop with a stone and then tore the outfits of the mannequin. Actually he raised his voice against the colonial culture prevailing in the 70s.
Rays protest was silent, whereas Mrinal Sens was very loud. Two different styles no doubt - but Sens personal attitude made him of a different class. Throughout his career, Sen never deviated from personalizing his protagonist. In Ekdin Pratidin (1979) he never made it clear to the audience where the female protagonist spent her night where as every one was worried about the absence. Even Ray had commented that, Sens duty as a film maker was to convey the message to the audience that the protagonists reaction was clearly the personal feeling about the incident of Mrinal Sen. Sen didnt agree to Rays comment, and there lies the difference between Ray and Sens attitude towards the protagonists reaction to a particular situation. This difference has made him a director to remember, to reckon with.