Star of the week - BIMAL ROY


DOB: July 12, 1909
Star sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Suapar, Dhaka district, British India
Occupation: Producer and director


• Bimal Roy is particularly noted for his realistic and socialistic films such as Parineeta, Biraj Bahu, Sujata, Parakh and Bandini.

• Inspired by Italian neo-realistic cinema, he made Do Bigha Zamin after watching Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948). His work is particularly known for his mise en scène which he employed to portray realism.

• He won a number of awards throughout his career, including 11 Filmfare Awards, two National Film Awards, and the International Prize of the Cannes Film Festival. Madhumati won 9 Filmfare Awards in 1958, a record held for 37 years.

• In 1959, he was a member of the jury at the 1st Moscow International Film Festival.

• The Bimal Roy Memorial Trophy has been awarded every year since 1997, by the Bimal Roy Memorial & Film Society to honour both, experienced artists and contributors from the Indian film industry as well as outstanding new and upcoming filmmakers.

• A postage stamp, bearing his face, was released by India Post to honour him on January 8, 2007.

Interesting facts:

• Bimal Roy was born to a zamindar family in Suapur, Dhaka, which was then part of the Eastern Bengal and Assam province of British India.

• Roy moved to Calcutta and entered the field of cinema as a camera assistant with New Theatres Pvt. Ltd. During this time, he assisted director P.C. Barua as publicity photographer on the hit 1935 film Devdas, starring K.L. Saigal.

• In the 1940s and 1950s Roy was part of the parallel cinema movement in post-war India. He collaborated on Anjangarh (1948), one of the last major films of the New Theatres, however, the Kolkata-based film industry was now on the decline, thus Roy shifted his base to Bombay, along with his team in 1950, which included Hrishikesh Mukherjee (editor), Nabendu Ghosh (screenwriter), Asit Sen (assistant director), Kamal Bose (cinematographer) and later, Salil Chaudhury (music director) although sometimes he used S.D Burman as well. By 1952 he had restarted the second phase of his career with Maa, for Bombay Talkies.

• He was famous for his romantic-realist melodramas that took on important social issues while still being entertaining. He was a filmmaker of great and in-depth understanding of human strengths and weaknesses.

• Bimal Roy's influence was far-reaching both, in Indian cinema and world cinema. In the former, his influence extended to mainstream and commercial Hindi cinema and the emerging Parallel Cinema. His film Do Bigha Zamin (1953) was the first film to successfully straddle art and commercial cinema, as a result, the film's success paved the way for the Indian New Wave.

• In commercial cinema, one of the most influential films he directed was Madhumati (1958), his first and only collaboration with Ritwik Ghatak (who wrote the screenplay), and one of the earliest films to deal with the subject of reincarnation. The film is said to have inspired many films in India and in Hollywood.

• Bimal Roy's films continue to be screened at major national and international film festivals in India, Europe and North America. His films are being restored and digitised by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) at Pune.

• In July 2014, Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai hosted an exhibition; Bimal Roy: Life & Times, organised in collaboration with his children. The exhibits included screening of the films; Madhumati, Sujata and Bandini, besides film posters, costumes and memorabilia, including an Arriflex camera used to shoot Devdas and Sujata.