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Chidananda Das Gupta was a famous Bengali filmmaker, film critic, film historian and pioneer of the film society movement in India. Dasgupta also co-founded the Calcutta Film Society with legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray.
Chidananda lived and worked in Calcutta and Santiniketan. Always dressed up in his trademark cream kurta and pyjama, Chidu da, as he was fondly referred to, was a perfect portrayal of dignity and restraint. His daughter Aparna Sen is a well known actress and filmmaker and his granddaughter is actress Konkona Sen Sharma who is also a talented actress in the Hindi film industry.
Chidananda Das Gupta was born on 20 November 1921 at Shillong, Meghalaya to Shantilata and Manmathanath Dasgupta. Chidananda married Supriya Das in 1944 and the couple was blessed with daughter Aparna Sen, actress and filmmaker. Aparna Sen is the mother of well known film actress Konkona Sen Sharma.
During the course of his professional career Chidananda worked as a teacher at St. Columba's College, Hazaribagh, he was also a personal assistant to PC Mahalanobis at the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, he taught at City College, Kolkata, and later was into a job in advertising. Chidananda Das Gupta directed seven films, namely The Stuff of Steel, The Dance of Shiva , Portrait of a City, Amodini, Zaroorat Ki Purti, Rakhto and Bilet Pherat. In the film Amodini both his grandaughter Konkona Sen Sharma and daughter Aparna Sen played substantial roles.
Chidananda Das Gupta was one of the early pioneers of serious film criticism in India. He is best known as a film critic & historian, and had written over 2000 articles on cinema in different periodicals. Chidananda along with Satyajit Ray and others had set up the Indian Film Quarterly in 1957. The contributions of Chidananda to Sight and Sound have permanent archival importance in the British film magazine. Chidananda was a fan of Satyajit Ray and studied the work of Ray closely. The 1980, book of Chidananda – ‘The Cinema of Satyajit Ray’ is one of the most definitive works on Satyajit Ray today.
One of the greatest achievements of Chidananda was that he along with legendary filmmaker Hari Sadhan Dasgupta and Satyajit Ray, founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947. Due to the initiative of Chidananda Das Gupta, Satyajit Ray, Mrs. Vijaya Mulay and others, the Federation of Film Societies of India was set up in 1959. The Federation has played a pivotal role in spreading the film society movement in India. Filmmaker Mrinal Sen said in an interview, “Chidananda Dasgupta was indispensable to the film society. We would always find him busy either procuring the films or organising screenings. He demonstrated that a film movement is possible here.”
Chidananda Das Gupta was also a well known essayist and translator. He translated works of Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das and Manik Bandopadhyay. Chidananda had a good rapport with poet Jibanananda Das and had unique interests into his poetry. According to filmmaker Mrinal Sen, “He was an extraordinary writer. In his long association with films, he donned many roles; but it was his writing, both in English and Bengali, that was most distinctive.”
Ill Health and Death:
Towards the later part of his life Chidananda got physically impaired due to Parkinson's disease. He had to be supported by a wheel chair and his voice was also barely audible. Nevertheless, the filmmaker was always active and continued with his work. Chidananda breathed his last on 22 May 2011 in Kolkata following bronchopneumonia and Parkinson's disease. His daughter Aparna Sen performed the final rites of Das Gupta.
Words and Wishes:
On the sad demise of Chidananda Das Gupta many members of the film fraternity offered their condolences to this legendary filmmaker and critic. Important among them are:
Actress Konkana Sen: "R.I.P. Chidananda Dasgupta."
Actor Soumitra Chatterjee "Happy that he had lived a very full life.. He will be remembered for his very good work whether at the film society or as a filmmaker and critic.”
Rahul Bose tweeted his condolences to Aparna: "My condolences. Hope you are well."
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee: “His death is a loss for the film and cultural world.”
Film critic Meena Karnik: "Chidananda Dasgupta is no more.Founder of film society in Kkolkata in 1947 alongwth Satyajit Ray, a renownd critic, father of Aparna Sen. RIP"
Awards and Recognition:
Chidananada Das Gupta was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for writing on cinema at the Osian Film Festival in 2004.
Daughter: Aparna Sen
Grandchildren: Konkona Sen Sharma, Kamalini Sen
(FAN OF Mr. CHIDANANDA DAS GUPTA)
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