Remembering Tarun Majumdar

The director was known for making Bengali blockbusters that were also thought-provoking

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Director Tarun Majumdar passed away in a Kolkata hospital on Monday. He was 92. Majumdar was known for making films that weren’t typically formulaic, but did well commercially. While they didn’t always impress critics, Majumdar’s films were entertaining, mostly feelgood and also thought-provoking. He often turned to literature for inspiration and some of his best-known films are adapted from Bengali literary works, like Balika Badhu (1967), which was based on a story by Bimal Kar; and Dadar Kirti (1980), which was adapted from a short story by Saradindu Bandopadhyay. Over the course of his career, Majumdar received four National Awards and was given the Padma Shri in 1990. Here are five of our favourite films from Majumdar’s filmography.

Palatak (1963)

This is one of Majumdar’s earliest films, made at the time he was part of Yatrik, a directors’ collective comprising Majumdar, Dilip Mukherjee and Sachin Mukherjee. Based on a Bengali short story by Manoj Basu, the film is about a man whose curiosity about the world and wanderlust come up against conventional expectations, especially after he gets married. The film starred Anup Kumar and the legendary Bengali actress Sandhya Roy, who was also Majumdar’s wife.

Palatak is available on Zee 5.

Balika Badhu (1967)

This film, which is about the relationship that develops between a couple who are married off as children, marked the debut of Moushumi Chatterjee. Majumdar’s adaptation of the novel by the same name by Bimal Kar was a blockbuster hit and he would go on to direct a Hindi remake, starring Sachin in 1976 (also titled Balika Badhu).

Sansar Seemantey (1975)

Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Sandhya Roy, Bhanu Bandopadhyay and Robi Ghosh, the film stands apart from the light-hearted sweetness that characterised most of Majumdar’s films. In Sansar Seemantey, the love story is between a thief and a sex worker.

Ganadevata (1978)

Based on a novel by Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, the film is set in the 1920s and explores how mob mentality can develop in a community. The village of Shibkalipur sees clashes between feudal traditions and modern ideas. Through the characters of the villagers and their conflicts, Majumdar showed how ‘tradition’ was a tool of oppression. One of the most interesting characters in the film is the sex worker Durga (played by Sandhya Roy), who defies caste and class divisions.

Ganadevata is available on Amazon Prime Video.

Dadar Kirti (1980)

Majumdar’s films often had feisty and fun female protagonists and Saraswati (played by Mahua Roy Choudhury) is a good example. She’s a charming character even though the way her romance with the simpleton Kedar (played by debutant Tapas Paul) is written feels a little dated. The romantic drama is still a fun watch and has a nostalgia-rich soundtrack by Hemanta Mukherjee.

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