Mrinal Sen's letters to son donated to University of Chicago

·3-min read

Kolkata, Apr 9 (PTI) Letters penned by legendary Bengali filmmaker Mrinal Sen to his only son Kunal Sen are among the archival materials of the Dada Saheb Phalke awardee that were donated to the University of Chicago.

Sixty-six-year-old Kunal Sen, based in Illinois, US where Chicago is located, said that he donated the archival materials, which also includes some photographs and awards, to the American university as he felt uncomfortable holding on to the items due to his advancing age.

His announcement in a Facebook post on Friday triggered sadness among film buffs in Kolkata who lamented that the maestro's own city could not preserve the documents.

Responding to a friend's suggestion that he could have given the items to a museum in Kolkata, Sen said that he could not find such an establishment in the Indian city.

Sen said his father did not take care of his documents either because of his 'deep distrust for nostalgia or simply due to laziness'.

'He has thrown away all his letters, screenplays, manuscripts,' Sen said.

The filmmaker's son, a software professional, said he has doubts whether people would be interested in Mrinal Sen's life or works in another hundred years.

'But I just wanted to make sure that if anyone does, then they can still find them in the state that I found them.

Therefore, I was extremely happy when the University of Chicago approached me with the desire to preserve these documents for posterity.

'I have seen their special archives, and I know of their long heritage, and I feel confident that they are capable of preserving them for a very long time,' Sen said.

The memorabilia could be fitted into three cardboard boxes, which were handed over to the university.

'A man's eventful life in just three boxes...what was sitting in our personal drawers is now part of an institution.

'I know it will feel even stranger when, in the future, if I need to take a look at one of these documents, perhaps a letter written to me, I will be sitting inside the cold rooms of the library's vault, and touch them through white cotton gloves,' Sen said.

Mrinal Sen, who along with Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray formed the legendary filmmaker triumvirate of Bengali cinema, died on December 30, 2018 at the age of 95.

He was a recipient of Padma Bhushan and 18 national awards.

Debuting in the world of filmmaking with his 1955 flick 'Raat Bhore', Sen went on to become one of the trailblazers of New Wave cinema in India with classics such as 'Chorus', 'Akaler Sandhane', 'Calcutta 71', 'Kharij', 'Parashuram', 'Ek Din Pratidin', 'Khandahar' and 'Padatik', to name a few.

Kunal Sen said many of his father's films could not be retrieved and may have been lost forever.

The development triggered mixed reactions from residents of Kolkata.

'It is sad that his loved city remained silent, anyway this is the best solution for the time being,' filmmaker Sekhar Das said.

'Being part of a culture-conscious community, feel ashamed,' netizen Rita Chatterjee said. PTI SUS ACD ACD