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Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Award-Winning Indian Filmmaker, Dead at 77

Revered Indian filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta died in Kolkata on Thursday due to kidney-related ailments. He was 77.

Dasgupta’s work was equally feted globally and domestically. Initially an adherent of the Indian realism form pioneered by Satyajit Ray, he soon evolved his own form that included elements of magic realism.

Dasgupta cut his teeth on several documentaries before making his feature film debut with “Dooratwa” (1979), which was nominated for a Golden Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.

“Grihajuddha” (1982) was nominated for a Golden Lion at Venice, while “Phera” (1988) was nominated for the Golden Bear at Berlin.

“Bagh Bahadur” (1989) won the special jury prize for direction at the Istanbul Film Festival, while “Charachar” (1994) won the special jury award and audience award at Fribourg and was nominated for a Berlin Golden Bear.

Dasgupta’s most lauded film internationally was “The Wrestlers” (Uttara, 2000), which received considerable festival play and won him best director at Venice, the audience award at Nantes and the Netpac award at Brisbane.

“Mondo Meyer Upakhyan” (2002) won the Netpac and best ASEAN film awards at the Bangkok International Film Festival.

Domestically, Dasgupta’s films won India’s National Film Award for best feature film five times — for “Bagh Bahadur,” “Charachar,” “Lal Darja” (1997), “Mondo Meyer Upakhyan” and “Kaalpurush” (2008). He won the National Film Award for best direction twice, for “Uttara” and “Swapner Din” (2005).

His last film was “The Flight” (2020). He was also an accomplished poet and published several volumes of poetry.

Encomiums have been pouring in for the departed filmmaker.

“Anguished by the demise of Shri Buddhadeb Dasgupta,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “His diverse works struck a chord with all sections of society. He was also an eminent thinker and poet. My thoughts are with his family and several admirers in this time of grief. Om Shanti.”

Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is the capital, tweeted: “Saddened at the passing away of eminent filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta. Through his works, he infused lyricism into the language of cinema. His death comes as a great loss for the film fraternity. Condolences to his family, colleagues and admirers.”

“Buddhadeb Dasgupta enriched our arts and culture with his world-renowned films as well as poetry – both animated by a heartfelt lyricism. In his passing away, we have lost an extraordinary artist. My condolences to the bereaved family,” tweeted Ram Nath Kovind, President of India.

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