Mrinal Sen – Walking Down Alone
Interview by Triptayan Chatterjee
[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust that was the second half of the twentieth century. In the world of parallel cinema, a new wave was seen in the ocean. From Bengali language film, it turned into the film language of international and global cinema. Choosing the most considerable aspect of the different foundations of cinema, the new films made its way. Surrealism, existentialism, Marxism was the center point, post-modernism, new wave, and Italian Neorealism were the branches of thoughts. Just like a compact thought containing all these ideas and concepts, that new ocean wave started to express itself in every image, shot and conclusion of the film. And all these great films were created by legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen, which has been the permanent page of the history of cinema. No doubt he had to go across the narrative style of cinema. But in the next phase of life, Mrinal Sen made it abandoned and assimilated the experimental and postmodernism and went through the nonlinear structure of cinema, which brought him the global acceptance in parallel indie cinema. Mrinal Sen has done the masterstroke where other two Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Roy were walking down their way and far away from Sen’s cinema. Mrinal Sen is a bright star in twentieth-century cinema. Starting for the film NIL AKASHER NICHE to MAHAPRITHIBI everywhere it is seen.
In the early phase, Mrinal Sen went with the linear narrative style. The films of those time were though liner but different from the stream. In the next phases, he made the theme of his films started revolving around two basic streams. First one is the class-enemies within the mediocre urban society and the second one is sociological values and decaying structure of the mediocre urban family particularly depicting the city of Kolkata. But both these stream had and outer fabrication, that is a beauty. Mrinal Sen’s film is still considered as the message of social conflicts under beauty because he believed in the great words, ‘Truth is beauty and beauty is the truth.’ All these abstract figures of the theme were based upon Postmodernism, Marxism, Neo-realism, new wave, existentialism and surrealism. But most considerable factor is that his world of cinema came as his thoughts with a stream of consciousness, but not in the crude form, but in a little bit diverted form where conscious and sub-conscious resides with each other. BHUBAN SOM reflects these all feature.
Sociopolitical life of the mediocre society and in urban life has been the most important aspect of his film. It had a vast background. A movement, which wanted the establishment of equalism in all aspects of the society arose around the globe. Sen’s films depict the reality of life. Marxist theory of class struggle and the class enemy was brighter in his creation. Like another literary worker of the time, he also found the real foes of the society is hidden within the mediocre society itself. They had to be identified in every aspect of society. With wide openness, he expressed those characters nakedly in his films. The analytical depth of his characters is a new episode in the history of the cinema. His characters were built on different cinematic theoretical background, but all this state of mind and structure reflected the theme, plot, and character through the lens of the class struggle and social sense of humanism. His humanism has never been an outline of ethical structure, practically it has been the crude figure against the class enemy.
OKA URI KATHA is one of his wonderful and critically acclaimed films. The second aspect of Mrinal Sen’s film is the mediocre urban society, particularly of Kolkata. Kolkata was his favorite. So all the goods and evils of the Kolkata society were woven with his film everywhere. A cluster of his films is woven with the mentality and lifestyles of the decaying mediocre family. But it should be remembered those are not the sentimental lifeline of the society. Those are the delicate portrayal of the inner and outer conflict of society. A different aspect of the values of the society has been depicted in his film. The decaying moral and social values of the mediocre individual and social entity concerning contemporary society has been uniquely drawn in his films.
The most attractive part of his film making is his conclusion. The climax and conclusion of his film are extremely nonlinear. Rather it can be said is directly thrown upon the viewers. He made his films from the first image to the last image is with the viewers. Normally the trends of the other directors seem to say the last word. Starting from a certain point, the director used to go with the theme and then used to conclude his own. But Sen’s film is something different. Mrinal Sen concluded all his films with different non ended branches of questions. So viewers had to bring a thought of his own after watching the complete movie. What can be the solution to the problem?….this question gets a permanent place in the mind of the viewer. Here Mrinal Sen is unique.
The films of Mrinal Sen didn’t get modern technology to be much more enriched. But what we see in his films are still unique. His camera never tells extra word than the screenplay. Sen is new that the theme and the plots are the backbones of a good film. The camera would have to do according to the direction of the script and screenplay. The camera is not the last word. So we watch his films narrated only by the camera. No extravagant usage of the camera in his film made it meaningless. The same words are applicable in his editing. Most of the shots he took in such a way so that editing can’t take many words to tell. Editing was mostly for adding shot to shot by the screenplay. The acting was extremely theatrical. Many group theater personalities played in his films. Lights in indoor and outdoor were apt and appropriate as required. The gimmick of camera, light, editing and sound never covered the core value of his film. Mrinal Sen taught us what cinema is. Somewhere it is being said that his films are forgotten classics. What has been depicted in Sen’s film is the valuable words of cinema.
Triptayan is a filmmaker looking for a different horizon. Earlier a journalist Triptayan has done intensive research on film language and made different documentaries so far. He is now concentrating upon feature film in a vast landscape. Professionally a teacher, Triptayan has also passion for making films threaded with the international and universal thoughts.