Buddhadeb Dasgupta, one of the most original icons of cinema, who helped put Indian cinema on the global stage, passed away in Kolkata on Thursday. The 77-year-old director had been suffering from kidney-related ailments for some time. He is survived by his wife, filmmaker Sohini Dasgupta, and two daughters.
Born in Purulia in 1944, Mr. Dasgupta graduated from the Scottish Church College in Kolkata and started his career as a lecturer in economics. However, he switched to making documentaries in the late 1960s. His first feature film was Dooratwa (1978). Feted with several national and international awards, his seminal works across languages include Phera (1988), Bagh Bahadur (1989), Tahader Katha (1992), Charachar (1994), Uttara (2000), Mondo Meyer Upakhyan (2002), Kalpurush (2005) and Tope (2016). He will be remembered among the greats of Indian cinema that Bengal has produced, including the legendary Ritwick Ghatak and Mrinal Sen.
Mr. Dasgupta brought Indian cinema back on the international stage after the death of Satyajit Ray in 1992, winning several international accolades. He won 12 national awards and was twice nominated for the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Phera i n 1988 and Charachar in 1994. In 2007, he was given the Golden Athena Award at the Athens International Film Festival. A year later, he was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Spain International Film Festival in Madrid.
The filmmaker, however, never liked comparison with legends like Ray and Sen, and preferred to be thought of alongside his great contemporary Govindan Aravindan (1935-1991). In his interviews, Mr. Dasgupta considered himself from the generation of filmmakers like Govindan Aravindan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal.
The subject and treatment of his films took the audience beyond realism and delved into magic realism, and at times, surrealism. Drawn from Bengali literature, his use of images, and at times non-linear narrative, added an element of fantasy, amalgamating magic realism and lyricism of poetry in films.
An acclaimed poet, too, Mr. Dasgupta emphasised that the most important aspect of a film was not its story but the “image”.