Harbinger of New Wave Cinema | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 26, 2011

Harbinger of New Wave Cinema

Chidananda Dasgupta passes away


Noted film critic and a pioneer of the film society movement in India, Chidananda Dasgupta died in Kolkata on Sunday night, following a brief illness.
The 89-year-old father of eminent actress-director Aparna Sen was suffering from acute broncho pneumonia and Parkinson's disease, doctors attending on him said. Aparna was away in the United States when her father died.
Born in Shillong in 1922, Dasgupta, along with close associate and master director Satyajit Ray and Hari Sadhan Dasgupta, founded the Calcutta Film Society soon after India's independence in 1947 with the screening of legendary Russian director Sergei Eisenstein's classic film “Battleship Potemkin”. The organisation was the harbinger of new wave cinema in the country, playing an important role in making world cinema accessible to Indian viewers.
Dasgupta played a leading role in setting up the Federation of Film Societies of India, which also contributed to enhancing cinematic sense among budding directors, actors and filmgoers. Although he donned many roles -- of a lecturer, adman and writer, it was as a film critic that Chidananda Dasgupta is best known, as he was one of those who made a niche as a serious commentator on cinema. He wrote over 2,000 articles on cinema in several periodicals and magazines and in 1980 authored “The Cinema of Satyajit Ray”, regarded as one of the most authentic research works on the master director. Among his other books are “Talking about Films” and “Unpopular Cinema”. The hallmark of his analysis of films was that they were scholarly and yet easily understood by even lay readers.
Dasgupta directed seven films: “The Stuff Of Steel” (1969); “The Dance of Shiva” (1968); “Portrait of a City” (1961); “Amodini” (1994), which featured his daughter Aparna Sen and granddaughter Konkona; “Zaroorat Ki Purti” (1979); “Rakhto” (1973) and “Bilet Pherat” (1972). He was given the lifetime achievement award at the Osian Film Festival in Delhi 2004.
Dasgupta's writings in English and Bengali were confined to not just cinema but extended to literature. Related to poet Jibanananda Das, Chidananda Dasgupta had translated several of the former's poems. Paying tributes to Dasgupta, ace director Mrinal Sen said, “Chidananda Dasgupta had a key role in the film society movement. We would always find him getting hold of films and organising their screenings.”

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