New Delhi: Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, known for his ‘common man’ sensibilities that were reflected in films such as Rajnigandha, Baaton Baaton Mein, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and Chitchor, has died at the age of 90. The news was confirmed by film guild IFTDA, reported PTI.
Filmmaker and Indian Film & TV Directors’ Association president Ashoke Pandit tweeted, “I am extremely grieved to inform you all the demise of Legendary Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee ji . His last rites will be performed today at Santacruz creamation at 2 pm. It’s a great loss to the industry. Will miss you Sir. #RIPBasuChaterjee.”
Starting his career as an illustrator and cartoonist, the Ajmer-born Basu Chatterjee knew how to find humour in the commonplace. He changed his career path after assisting Basu Bhattacharya in the Raj Kapoor-Waheeda Rehman starrer Teesri Kasam and made his debut with Sara Akash (1969) and soon earned the tag of ‘balcony class director’.
Associated with what came to be called the middle-of-the-road cinema, Basuda — as he was fondly called –celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary. He focussed his lens on the middle class and largely urban settings.
His heroes travelled to work in buses, romanced women they met at office canteens and local trains, and had everyday concerns. Whether it was Rajnigandha, Piya Ka Ghar, Choti Si Baat, Chitchor or Khatta Meetha or Shaukeen, his characters were seeped in reality. “I belonged to a middle class family. That’s the life I know. That’s why there was nothing larger-than-life about my films,” he had once said.
The two Basus along with Hrishikesh Mukherjee formed the Hindi cinema triumvirate whose ethos lay firmly in the middle class and its day-to-day struggles at a time when most of Bollywood was focused on larger-than-life stories of angst and tragedy led by Amitabh Bachchan. Actors like Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab were the stars that were favoured by Chatterjee to tell aspiring stories of the middle class.
His cinema was progressive for the times, unhurried and a slice of everyday life. He also directed few episodes of TV shows Byomkesh Bakshi, and Rajani for Doordarshan. He was also influenced by films such as Bicycle Thief and Billy Wilder’s socio-romantic comedies.