On Bimal Roy & His Films: The Journey Of 'The Silent Master' Of Indian Cinema!

By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on January 16, 2016

Golden eras are a tricky concept, as was beautifully made evident by Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. However, if ever there was a period in Indian cinema that deserves that tag, it is the 50's & the 60's.

The period saw legendary filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, Mrinal Sen & Raj Kapoor amongst others making films. Bimal Roy was an integral part of this golden era.

Roy is famous for his deeply realistic films that were imbued with humanism. Amongst the best known of his films are Do Bigha Zamin, Parineeta, Biraj Bahu, Madhumati, Sujata and Bandini. He was deeply impressed by the Italian neo-realist cinema of Vittorio De Sica & decided to make Do Bigha Zameen after watching his Bicycle Thieves. He remains one of the few filmmakers to strike the balance between realist melodramas that took on important social issues while still being entertaining. Not only that, Roy also was a lodestar who attracted & mentored talent that went on to chart their own illustrious careers. This list included those like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, Nabendu Ghosh, Salil Chowdhury & Basu Bhattacharya, all of whom either started or spent a bulk of their early years working under Roy.

The illustrious filmmaker started his career in films as an assistant cameraman in 1932. He worked as an assistant publicity photographer on P.C. Barua’s Devdas. He began directing in 1943 & his feature film was the acclaimed experimental low-budget movie, Udayer Pathey.  Throughout his career he won numerous awards including 11 Filmfare Awards & 2 National Film Awards.

We came across this remarkable documentary by Doordarshan on the filmmaker as a part of their ‘Portrait of the Director’ series. The documentary written by Khalid Mohamed decodes several of Roy's classics. The 40 min long video tells us how Roy’s films were unique blend of arts, commerce and entertainment. The documentary has legends of Hindi cinema talking about the director & what made him great.

Music composer Salil Chowdhury says, “His sense of rhythm, sense of cutting, sense of division, moving from extreme long shots to close-ups, made him the great master”.

Veteran actor Dilip Kumar who acted in several of Roy's films talks about him fondly and says, “He would sit with the entire team and decide the need for the song and how it is to be introduce with least bit of intrude”.

It's a lovely documentary that  gives us an insight into the man behind the legend. Watch it & enjoy. :-)


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