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Mrinal Sen (also spelled Mrinal Shen, born 14 May 1923) is a noted Bengali filmmaker based in Kolkata. Along with his contemporaries Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, he is often considered to be one of the greatest ambassadors of Bengali parallel cinema on the global stage.[1] Like the works of Ray and Ghatak, his cinema is known for its artistic depiction of social reality. Although the three directors shared a healthy rivalry, they were ardent admirers of each other's work, and in so doing, they charted the independent trajectory of parallel cinema, as a counterpoint to the mainstream fare of Hindi cinema in India. Mrinal Sen is an ardent follower of Marxist philosophy.

Mrinal Sen
Mrinal Sen
Born (1923-05-14) 14 May 1923 (age 95)
Years active1955–2002
Spouse(s)Gita Shome (1952–2017; her death)
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1983)
Order of Friendship (2000)


Early life and educationEdit

Sen was born on 14 May 1923, in the town of Faridpur, now in Bangladesh in a Hindu family. After finishing high school there, he left home to come to Calcutta as a student. He studied physics at the well-known Scottish Church College, and subsequently earned a postgraduate degree at the University of Calcutta. As a student, he got involved with the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. Although he never became a member of the party, his association with the socialist Indian People's Theatre Association brought him close to a number of like-minded culturally associated people.

Early interest in cinema Sen's interest in films started after he stumbled upon a book on film aesthetics. However, his interest remained mostly intellectual, and he was forced to take up the job of a medical representative, which took him away from Calcutta. This did not last very long, and he came back to the city and eventually took a job as an audio technician in a Calcutta film studio, which launched his film career.

Directorial debutEdit

Mrinal Sen made his first feature film, Raat Bhore, in 1955. It had the iconic Uttam Kumar who was not a star then. The movie was a let-down. His next film, Neel Akasher Neechey (Under the Blue Sky), earned him local recognition, while his third film, Baishey Shravan (the day when Rabindranath Tagore died), was his first film that gave him international exposure.

Sen and new cinema in IndiaEdit

After making five more films, he made a film with a shoe-string budget provided by the Government of India. This film, Bhuvan Shome (Mr. Shome), finally launched him as a major filmmaker, both nationally and internationally. Bhuvan Shome also initiated the "New Cinema" film movement in India.[2]

Social context and its political influenceEdit

The films that he made next were overtly political, and earned him the reputation as a Marxist artist.[3] This was also the time of large-scale political unrest throughout India. Particularly in and around Calcutta, this period underwent what is now known as the Naxalite movement. This phase was immediately followed by a series of films where he shifted his focus, and instead of looking for enemies outside, he looked for the enemy within his own middle class society. This was arguably his most creative phase.

Depiction of KolkataEdit

In many Mrinal Sen movies from Punascha to Mahaprithivi, Kolkata features prominently. He has shown Kolkata as a character, and as an inspiration. He has beautifully woven the people, value system, class difference and the roads of the city into his movies and coming of age for Kolkata, his El-Dorado.[4]

Experimentation, recognition and acclaimEdit

During this period, he won a large number of international awards. It could be argued that although his films show the development of ideas from existentialism, surrealism, Marxism, German expressionism, Postmodernism, Nouvelle Vague and Italian neorealism. Sen's cinema for the most part does not provide a happy ending or a definitive conclusion (unlike many of the films of Sen's better known contemporary Satyajit Ray). In many of Sen's later films, the audience becomes a participant in the process of the development of the plot. The director invites and provokes the audience into a shared process of forming multiple conclusions, that are at the same time unique and different. The director does not play the role of god, his audience does. It is not really surprising that unlike Allen who has a steady niche audience in the Western literati and aficionados, Sen's experimentation with parallel cinema had significantly cost him much of a devoted audience composing of largely the Calcutta-based westernized intelligentsia.

In 1982 he was a member of the jury at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival.[5] In 1983 he was a member of the jury at the 13th Moscow International Film Festival.[6] In 1997 he was a member of the jury at the 20th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

Mrinal Sen never stopped experimenting with his medium. In his later films he tried to move away from the narrative structure and worked with very thin story lines. After a long gap of eight years, at the age of eighty, he made his latest film, Aamaar Bhuvan, in 2002.

During his career, Mrinal Sen's films have received awards from almost all major film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Montreal, Chicago, and Cairo. Retrospectives of his films have been shown in almost all major cities of the world. He was also elected as the president of the International Federation of the Film Societies. He received the Taj Enlighten Tareef Award which is given for a lifetime contribution to the world of cinema in 2008. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 10th edition of the Osian's Cinefest Film Festival 2008.

On July 24, 2012, Mrinal Sen was not invited to the function organised by West Bengal government to felicitate film personalities from the State. As per reports, his political views are believed to be the reason for his omission from the function.[8]


National awardsEdit

National Film Award for Best Feature Film

National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film

National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali

National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu

National Film Award – Special Mention (feature film)

  • 1978: Parashuram

National Film Award for Best Direction

National Film Award for Best Screenplay

Filmfare Awards
Critics Award for Best Film
1976 Mrigayaa
Best Screenplay
1984 Khandhar
Best Director - Bengali
1982 Akaler Shandhaney
Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
2017 Bengali Cinema

International awardsEdit

Moscow International Film Festival - Silver Prize
1975 Chorus[9]
1979 Parashuram[10]
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - Special Jury Prize
1977 Oka Oori Katha
Berlin International Film Festival
Interfilm Award
1979 Parashuram
1981 Akaler Sandhane
Grand Jury Prize[11]
1981 Akaler Sandhane
Cannes Film Festival - Jury Prize
1983 Kharij
Valladolid International Film Festival - Golden Spike
1983 Kharij
Chicago International Film Festival - Gold Hugo
1984 Khandhar
Montreal World Film Festival - Special Prize of the Jury
1984 Khandhar
Venice Film Festival - OCIC Award - Honorable Mention
1989 Ek Din Achanak
Cairo International Film Festival - Silver Pyramid for Best Director
2002 Aamar Bhuban

State and institutional honorsEdit


  • He is a friend of Gabriel García Márquez and had often been invited as a judge in international film festivals.
  • In 2004, Mrinal Sen completed his autobiographical book, Always Being Born.
  • Life Time Achievement Award at 5th Global Film Festival Noida 2012.


Feature filmsEdit

Short filmsEdit

  • Ichhapuran (The Wish Fulfillment) (1970)
  • Tasveer Apni Apni (Portrait of an Average Man) (1984)
  • Aparajit (Unvanquished) (1986–87)
  • Kabhi Door Kabhi Paas (Sometimes Far, Sometimes Near) (1986–87)
  • Swamvar (The Courtship) (1986–87)
  • Aina (The Mirror) (1986–87)
  • Ravivar (Sunday) (1986–87)
  • Aajkaal (These Days) (1986–87)
  • Do Bahene (Two Sisters) (1986–87)
  • Jit (Win) (1986–87)
  • Saalgira (Anniversary) (1986–87)
  • Shawl (1986–87)
  • Ajnabi (The Stranger) (1986–87)
  • Das Saal Baad (Ten Years Later) (1986–87)


  • Moving Perspectives (1967)
  • Tripura Prasanga (1982)
  • City Life — Calcutta My El Dorado (1989)
  • And the Show Goes On — Indian Chapter (1999)

Films on Mrinal SenEdit

  • Ten Days in Calcutta — A Portrait of Mrinal Sen (Directed by Reinhard Hauff) (1984)
  • With Mrinal Sen (Directed by Sanjay Bhattacharya and Rahul Bose) (1989)
  • Portrait of a Filmmaker (Directed by Romesh Sharma) (1999)
  • A man behind the curtain (Directed by Supantho Bhattacharya) (1998)
  • A Documentary Proposal(Directed by R.V. Ramani) (2014)



  1. ^ "Memories from Mrinalda". Rediff. February 1, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  2. ^ Vasudev, Aruna (1986). The New Indian Cinema. Macmillan India. ISBN 0-333-90928-3.
  3. ^ Thorval, Yves (2000). Cinemas of India. Macmillan India. pp. 280–282. ISBN 0-333-93410-5.
  4. ^ "Mrinal Sen movies and Kolkata". Archived from the original on 16 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Berlinale 1982: Juries". Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  6. ^ "13th Moscow International Film Festival (1983)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  7. ^ "20th Moscow International Film Festival (1997)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Omission of Mrinal Sen from West Bengal film awards triggers controversy". 25 July 2012.
  9. ^ "9th Moscow International Film Festival (1975)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  10. ^ "11th Moscow International Film Festival (1979)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Berlinale 1981: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  12. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  13. ^ The International Who's Who 2004
  14. ^ Stellar Publishers
  15. ^ "51st National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  16. ^ "Annual Convocation". University of Calcutta. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Academy invites record 774 new members; 39 percent female, 30 percent people color". Hollywood Reporter. 29 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.

External linksEdit