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Basu Chatterjee, master of realistic films (not art movies), dies at 93

Basu Chatterjee, master of realistic films (not art movies), dies at 93

At a time when Hindi cinema was all about larger than life heroes and often improbable stories, filmmaker Basu Chatterjee came up with real life and simple yet touching and warm stories as they came to be known as middle cinema.

Chatterjee—who celebrated simple, everyday life in his cinema and produced such hits as Rajnigandha, Khatta Meetha, Chitchor, Manzil, and Choti Si Baat—died today in Mumbai. He was 93.

His films through the 1970s and 1980s came as welcome drift from unrealistic mainstream Hindi movies. Through his movies, he celebrated everyday life of common men and women. His stories were relatable and real. Yet, these movies were lively and entertaining—quite unlike the dull, drab fare served by art film directors.

In many of his movies, he cast the talented Amol Palekar and the late Vidya Sinha who portrayed different characters with comfort and elan.

What was striking was that Chatterjee also cast superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who was known for his “angry young man” image at that time.

Chatterjee’s contemporaries included another iconic director Hrishikesh Mukerjee.

Chatterjee, in the initial phase of his career, worked as an illustrator in the weekly tabloid Blitz.

He also brought his real life stories to the small screen with super hit serials like ‘Rajani’ in 1985. The serial was about a conscious homemaker who is into doing good for others. Rajani was about woman activism and role was portrayed by the late Priya Tendulkar.

Later, Chatterjee directed ‘Kakkaji Kahin’ starring the late Om Puri. The serial, based on ‘Netaji Kahin,’ written by Manohar Shyam Joshi, was a satire on Indian politics. Besides, Chatterjee created ‘Darpan’ and ‘Bheem Bhavani.’ In 1993, he directed the detective serial ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ starring Rajit Kapoor.

Chatterjee also directed Ek Ruka Hua Faisla, a television film, which received great appreciation.

“Prayers and condolences on the passing of Basu Chatterjee… a quiet, soft spoken, gentle human… his films reflected the lives of middle India… did Manzil with him… a sad loss,” Bachchan tweeted.

The movie gave India one of its all-time favorite songs Rim Jhim Gire Saawan. Moushumi Chatterjee acted opposite Bachchan in this super hit..