Mrinal Sen has often been called the “accidental filmmaker”. And cinema lovers thank their stars for such a pleasant “accident” that gave the world of reel the gem that the acclaimed director was.

Sen had no plans to get associated with the silver screen. There is no documentary evidence or otherwise to suggest he ever gave any thought to ‘long shot’, ‘jump cut’, or ‘story board’ at least until his college days. Having come to Kolkata from Bangladesh to study Physics, the meritorious student suddenly started seeing words like life, struggle and revolution from very close quarters. He started understanding them, and began to make others understand them — but not from any political stage but on the silver screen.

While studying in college, Mrinal Sen joined the cultural wing of the Communist Party. He, however, never participated in active politics. In an interview, the legendary filmmaker had called himself a ‘private Marxist’.

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Sen believed in Left ideologies, which is reflected in Padatik and some of his other films. However, this belief was based on idealism. Maybe, that’s why he joined the march taken out by intellectuals in Kolkata against the police firing in Nandigram in 2007. Known to be a Leftist all his life, Mrinal Sen participating in that march had shocked the then Left Front government, though the procession had been publicized as an apolitical one. He, however, also took part in the march organized by Left-leaning intellectuals the very next day.

After Satyajit Ray passed away, the West Bengal government had requested Mrinal Sen to take charge as the chairman of Nandan, the government-sponsored film and cultural centre in Kolkata. He had turned down the offer.

(This report originally appeared in Bengali in Dainik Statesman)