Kolkata: Eminent film director Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who had been battling kidney ailments for quite some time, died at his residence here early on Thursday following a cardiac arrest, family members said. He was 77.
The national award-winning director is survived by his wife, and two daughters from a previous marriage.
Extending her condolences to the ace director's friends and family, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee 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."
Dasgupta was found motionless by his wife, Sohini, at his residence in Kalikapur area of the city at 6 am, according to the family members.
He suffered cardiac arrest in his sleep, they added.
Mourning his demise, filmmaker Goutam Ghosh said, "Buddha da continued to make films, write articles and stay active, despite his failing health. He had directed 'Tope' and 'Urojahaz' even when he was unwell. It is a great loss for all of us."
Actor-director Aparna Sen said Dasgupta's films were "soaked in surrealism".
"I am sad that I won't be able to bid a final farewell to Buddhadeb da at the crematorium, like I did in the case of Mrinal da. It is upsetting that we cannot give due recognition to a director of his calibre, due to this COVID pandemic and the lockdown," Sen said.
Actor and theatre personality Kaushik Sen said Dasgupta was in the league of filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, "who took Bengali cinema to global platforms".
"He had often been accused of making cinema in a style that was not easily understood by the masses. But he stuck to that style, never deviated from what he believed in," Sen said.
Born in 1944 in Purulia, Dasgupta began his career as a lecturer in a college before taking a plunge into filmmaking in the 70s, after having enrolled his name as a member of Calcutta Film Society.
He made his first feature film 'Dooratwa' in 1978, leaving his mark as a poet-lyricist-director.
Prior to that, he had made a short 'Samayer Kache'.
Some of the notable films he has helmed include 'Neem Annapurna', 'Grihajuddha', 'Bagh Bahadur', 'Tahader Katha', 'Charachar', 'Lal Darja', 'Uttara', 'Swapner Din', 'Kaalpurush' and 'Janala'.
He had also directed Hindi films -- 'Andhi Gali' and 'Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa'.
Dasgupta -- who bagged 12 national awards in his lifetime -- was liberal in his views, having criticised several political activities in the recent times.
He stood by younger filmmaker Anik Dutta, when anti-establishment 'Bhobisyoter Bhoot' was withdrawn from theatres in the city one week after release.
A recipient of Venice film festival silver lion, Locarno critics' award and Locarno Special Jury award, the auteur, after one of his ventures did not get a commercial release a few years ago, had told PTI, "It hurts me when my film gets recognised internationally but doesn't hit the theatres in Kolkata and the rest of Bengal. But there is a strong distribution lobby at work."
Bengali star Prosenjit Chatterjee, filmmaker Srijit Mukherji and actor Rahul Bose on Thursday paid tributes to celebrated filmmaker.
Chatterjee, who worked with the filmmaker in the 2004 drama "Swapner Din" and "Ami, Yasin Ar Amar Madhubala" in 2007, took to Twitter and posted a heartfelt note.
The actor said he was deeply saddened by Dasgupta's demise and remembered him as a "shining name", not just in the Indian cinema but also in the "international film world".
"Fortunately, I had the opportunity to do two films with him and I went with him to various film festivals to find out how much his other genre of cinema is appreciated internationally... Buddha Da is also incomparable as a human being. Be well, stay with us through your work," Chatterjee wrote in Bengali.
Mukherji said Dasgupta's films have shaped up his cinema memory, leaving a strong impact with his impeccable storytelling.
Mukherji especially remembered Dasgupta's two films -- 1982 drama "Grihajuddha", which had the Naxalite movement in Bengal of the 1970s as the backdrop, and 1989 drama "Bagh Bahadur", about a man who paints himself as a tiger and dances in a village.
"Even his last film 'Urojahaj' bore the stamp of his class and poetry in every frame. Goodbye, Memory-maker," Mukherji wrote.
"Urojahaj", which released in 2019, was the last film Dasgupta directed. The Chand Roy Sanyal-headlined drama had its world premiere at MAMI.
Parno Mitra, who had also featured in the film, took to Twitter and wrote, "It's been an honour to have worked with you in 'Urojahaj."
Actor Sudiptaa Chakraborty said she was fortunate to have collaborated with the filmmaker on two of his projects -- "Mondo Meyer Upakhyan" (2002) and "Kaalpurush" in 2005, which also featured Mithun Chakraborty and Rahul Bose.
"Poet and Filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta is no more. In the post Ray-Ghatak era, he was one of the most celebrated and valued Indian (and Bengali) filmmaker in the international diaspora," she said.
Bose took to Instagram and described "Kaalpurush" as one the most satisfying films of his career.
The actor said Dasgupta was a "part poet, part filmmaker", which was reflected in his cinema, from his storytelling and framing to the sound.
"Working on 'Kaalpurush' was challenging, engrossing. It was a delicate film with tenderness and depth running through it like two best friends. It took time for me to understand Buddhada's style of direction. But once we understood each other the
Bollywood actor Pankaj Tripathi, who worked with Dasgupta on "Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa", said he shared a "very wonderful and loving relation" with the filmmaker.
"I remember I got a call from his team from Kolkata for 'Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa' and Buddha da said he is making a film and he wants me in it and next week I was in Kolkata. It was an important cameo.
"It was a great learning experience working with him. He was a master of cinema. I remember we would chat a lot about cinema, life. Later I met him at a film festival and I have always loved being around him. It is a sad day today for all of us but his cinema will stay alive among us," the actor said.