UNPARALLELED

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Jan 2019 10:17:39

THE unparalleled colossus of parallel cinema in India is no more, though his legend will live forever. Such was the contribution of Mr. Mrinal Sen to world cinema. Such was the place he carved for himself in countless millions of sensitive minds across the world through his films that could not be framed in any particular school, so much so that Mr. Mrinal Sen became an undeclared school by himself. Generations of film-makers moulded their thought and action on how Mr. Mrinal Sen handled the medium of cinema and gave it unprecedented dimensions. Let alone a few of his earliest films, Mr. Mrinal Sen’s subsequent creations led to revolutionary ideas sweeping across the cinematic landscape not just of India but also of the world.

All that leadership of ideas in as complex a medium as cinema immortalised him even as he lived to the ripe old age of 96 years. Age did take its toll and Mrinal da remained confined to his home for some years. The world worried about his health, and kept paying him rich tributes by featuring his films at every possible forum and discussing his ideas and ideals in phenomenal depth. Almost every school that taught films across the world considered it its privilege to learn lessons from Mr. Mrinal Sen’s terrific sense of experimentation and innovation. There is little doubt that that process would continue forever.

There were two other icons that worked as Mrinal da’s contemporaries -- Mr. Satyajit Ray and Mr. Ritwik Ghatak. This threesome made all the difference to the world of cinema. They made experiments not just with the theme but also with the method of handling it, even though technology was only in its early stages of evolution. Mrinal da believed that technology was only a tool that could be made to bend the way a film-maker desired. “In a very few cases, technology could limit certain experimentation, but the real limitation of a film-maker is his thought and ideas. If he has a message to share with the society, then technology paves the right way almost automatically”, Mrinal da had said in an interview in the 1970s.

And he proved his words as very right. His Bhuvan Shome, his Calcutta triology, his Khandahar, his Mrigayaa, his Ek Din Achanak, his only Telugu film Oka Oori Katha took Mrinal da to great height not just as a film-maker but also as a person who had a message for the larger society. True, many people considered him to be a person with Leftist leanings, but Mrinal da was not a person who could be restricted by ideological frame. That was why his interpretation of various social issues of the time appealed to people beyond the ideological confinement. Most importantly, Mrinal da was an artist first and an artist last, beyond technology, beyond ideology. This stance endeared generations of film-goers but at times hurt the sensibilities of some who could not see without the ideological spects. On a few occasions when such a thing happened, Mrinal da only smiled, removed his thick-rimmed spects, wiped the glasses, and put them back on. That done, he was ready to move on.

Actually, that was the real message Mrinal da gave to the people. This dynamic approach not just to film-making but also to life made all the difference. As a human being, he was personable and absolutely open to new ideas that might militate against his grain. He had a disarming smile and warm and inviting eyes, contrary to a presumptuous impression some carried before meeting him. That impression came from their comprehension of the persona of a serious film-maker. But Mr. Mrinal Sen was a man who defied most presumptions. That free-spirited living made Mrinal da the unparalleled colossus of the parallel cinema -- and cinema as a whole!