|Chidananda Das Gupta|
20 November 1921|
Shillong, British India
22 May 2011 (aged 89)|
Chidananda Das Gupta (20 November 1921 - 22 May 2011) (family name sometimes spelled 'Dashgupta' and 'Dasgupta') (Bengali: ) was a Bengali Indian filmmaker, a leading film critic, a film historian and one of the founders of Calcutta Film Society with Satyajit Ray in 1947. He lived and worked in Calcutta and Santiniketan.
Son of Shantilata and Manmathanath Dasgupta, a Brahmo missionary and social worker, he was born at Shillong, Assam, India in 1921. In 1944 he married, Supriya Das, a daughter of Brahmananda Dashgupta, brother of poet Jibanananda Das. His daughter Aparna Sen is a well known actress and filmmaker. Actress Konkona Sen Sharma is his granddaughter.
Das Gupta had a flick with politics during the anti-British Quit India movement days of the 1940s. This forced him on to jobs - teaching at St. Columba's College, Hazaribagh, personal assistant to Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis at the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, teaching at City College, Kolkata, journalism, and then a plush job in advertising with Imperial Tobacco.
In 1947, Das Gupta, along with Satyajit Ray and Hari Sadhan Dasgupta, founded the Calcutta Film Society. The opportunity to see the best of world cinema had a decisive impact on Ray as well as others like Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak.
In 1959, the Federation of Film Societies of India was set up at the initiative of Das Gupta, Satyajit Ray, Mrs. Vijaya Mulay, Mrs. Ammu Swaminathan, Robert Hawkins, Diptendu Pramanick, Abul Hassan and A. Roychowdhury. The Federation has played a major role in the spread of the film society movement in India.
Das Gupta is well known for his essays and translations of Rabindranath Tagore, Manik Bandopadhyay and Jibanananda Das. He had a close association with poet Jibanananda Das during the latter's lifetime which gave him unique insights into the poetry of Jibanananda Das that is often alleged to be obscure and unintelligible.
Chidananda Das Gupta is best known as a film historian and film critic. He has written over 2000 articles on cinema in various periodicals. In 1957 he, along with Ray and others, started the Indian Film Quarterly. His contributions to the British film magazine Sight and Sound have permanent archival value. He has studied closely the work of his friend Satyajit Ray, and his 1980 book The Cinema of Satyajit Ray remains one of the definitive works on Ray.
Das Gupta directed as many as seven films, namely The Stuff of Steel (1969), The Dance of Shiva (1968), Portrait of a City (1961), Amodini (1994), Zaroorat Ki Purti (1979), Rakhto (1973) and Bilet Pherat (1972) Of these he composed only two. These are Bilet Pherat and Amodini, the latter starring both his daughter Aparna Sen and his granddaughter Konkona Sen Sharma.
Amodini was made in 1996. It was a one-hour forty five minutes family comedy. Casting included Aparna Sen, Rachana Banerjee, Anusree Das and Pijush Ganguly, among others. A satirical Indian fairy tale, it is set in the perspective of 18th century, when traditional social customs were strictly enforced and complied. The storyline is about the exploits of a pretty and spoiled daughter of a rajah (king) who is forced to become the bride of her 15-year-old Brahmin houseboy after the man she was supposed to marry jilts her on her wedding day. If she does not marry before sunset, something horrible will happen to her; therefore she must marry the servant boy. After the ceremony, the boy is exiled and the union remains unconsummated. Years pass and tragedy befalls the rajah who loses all his wealth. Suddenly the servant boy returns, only he is no longer a servant. Now he has become wealthy and powerful enough to take the rajah's position from him. Even though by then he has married another, his former bride begs him to take her in.
As an elderly man, Das Gupta was physically impaired from Parkinson's disease. He used wheel chair to move and his voice was barely audible. However he remained active. He always dressed up in trademark cream kurta-pyjama. His white stubble around the cheeks well passed for a French beard. It has been said that Chidananda Das Gupta was a picture of 'restraint' and 'dignity'. He died on 22 May 2011 in Kolkata after catching bronchopneumonia brought on by Parkinson's disease.