Basu Chatterjee, one of the pillars of the Indian New Wave Cinema passed away today. Through his films Basu Da, as he was popularly called, used the ‘common man tales’ to introduce a new twist to Indian Cinema in the seventies and eighties.
He began his career as an Illustrator-Cartoonist for Russi Karanjia’s tabloid ‘Blitz’ in the then Bombay and after 18 years shifted to a film career. After assisting iconic film director Basu Bhattacharya and Govind Saraiyya, Basu Chatterjee went on to direct ‘Sara Akash’ ( Complete Sky) in 1969. The film along with two others, ‘Us Ki Roti’ ushered in the Indian New Wave.
This was a time when Indian popular Cinema was at its peak with stars like Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, The three Kapoors, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, and Manoj Kumar were ruling the box office. In a tough scenario like this, a small film like ‘Sara Akash’ was able to create ripples. In the next three years, Basu Chatterjee came up with mostly family stories like ‘Piya Ka Ghar’ (1972), Rajnigandha (1974), ‘Chitchor’ (1976), ‘Chhoti Si Baat’ (1976), ‘Khatta Meetha’ (1978), ‘Baton Baton Mein’ (1979, ‘Shaukeen’ (1982) and many others. He was so prolific and productive that in the Year 1979 alone, de directed as many as six feature films.
Basu Chatterjee almost single-handedly transformed ‘The Common Man’s’ tales into a genre.
His cinema mostly was about ‘day to day life’, his characters were people on the street, people in the neighborhood, his settings usual, his dialogues conversational, and his dialogue delivery, natural. This was Basu Chatterjee.
Much would be written about his awards and milestones but his biggest gift to Indian Cinema was a ‘Genre’, ‘the man next door.