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The Soaring Pioneer
"Indian cinema wouldn't have been as beautiful if it weren't for Debaki Bose", as opined by an epitome of excellence, Tapan Sinha. The genius who had so much in praise for himself in the budding age of Bengali cinema, how was it to build his name into a brand and one of the greatest examples of today?
The Boss Man; Image Source: Cinemaazi

Born on 25th November 1898

Bose, quite an enigmatic surname, isn’t it? Baffling in a way that could shake the strongest and the most stable shoes, without any earthquake. It radiates vigour and solidity and enlists itself as an inception that the Bengalis are proud of. The Bose, as he can be witnessed to be marching like a boss over the snow cold Tibet, also marches on the red carpet of Cine. The Bose who had bagged an enormous briefcase of praise from every successful director of that time; the writer, the actor and most certainly, the architect of a new horizon of sounds and music in Bengali cinema, was a brand in its own name- Debaki Bose.

As we all can see, Indian cinema is branched out into various regional divisions. We have the empirical Bollywood. And then comes the emperor of action sequences- the South Indian kingdom. Though the reference of the Bengali cinema is still smaller compared to them, one can’t deny the impact of some of the big names it carries. Right from Satyajit Ray to today’s Srijit Mukherji, the Bengali film industry has always been blessed with outwardly directors, actors, actresses and most importantly, films that would hypnotize you in awe. Debaki Bose, in his generation, added to the charm.

Born on November 25, 1898, in the interiors of Bengal, the director wasn’t a blessed son, he chartered his own path- one that surpassed the academic genius of his family. His father was a prospering advocate of Burdwan (Bengal). He studied in a renowned college of Bengal, Vidyasagar College. But being born in British trapped India, a student can’t be expected to be devoid of an inner revolutionary. As soon as he became aware of Gandhiji’s Non-Cooperation Movement, he left college- the British driven institution of study and walked on a path of creating his own identity.

But an educated and elite family of Bengal can’t stand such unforeseen quit. His father named him ‘kulangar’ i.e, the family’s black sheep. But, an agitated and determined Debaki Bose roared back, “This kulangar will one day be your kul-prodeep (Lantern of pride)”. He then set his foot on the borders of Dhiren Ganguly, one of the finest directors and entrepreneurs who had set up a number of production companies around the time.

Under Dhiren Ganguly’s banner of British Dominion Films, he started working as a scenarist and actor. He had his breakthrough by composing his first outstanding script of Kamonar Agun (1930), where he acted as well. The next debut he gained as a director with his Pachasar (1930)- the same year, presenting himself and Dhiren Ganguly.

For a change of flow, he proceeded to work with Pramathesh Barua (Barua Pictures). His ultimate destination was destined in 1932 at New Theatres. New Theatres was a talent hub sheltering some of the emerging glowing names in the industry- Prithviraj Kapoor, K. L. Saigal, Bikash Roy, Chhabi Biswas, Pahari Sanyal, Kanan Devi. Debaki Bose crafted the first big hit of the studio Chandidas in 1934, in association with Barua. It was a classic and was stored as an antique portrayal in that stage genre. Bose’s works were regarded as the prime in generating and developing mythological and saint subjects in movies.

1934 pushed him to join hands with East India Films. He produced Seeta, a lyrical film that introduced the star chemistry Prithviraj Kapoor and Durga Khote. Coming back to New Theatres in 1937, he fabricated Vidyapati (1937) launching the glimmering faces of Pahari Sanyal, Kanan Devi, Prithviraj Kapoor, Leela Desia, Chhaya Devi, Kidar Sharma and K. C. Dey. The songs of the film grabbed the spotlight, and the lyrics were hummed by the audience. From those lyrics, the boldness of Bose was carried in 1945, when he started his own production company inviting Hindi and Marathi stars.

The successful filmmaker however wasn’t an egoist or hungry to retain his status still in a paradigm. He invited newer talents and praised the works which, he knew, could be equal to his own creations. The most popular instance was when he said, ‘That defeat can be so sweet, I did not know until now!’ after accepting and acknowledging Satyajit Ray’s excellence in Pather Panchali (1955). He was a disciplinarian and stayed away from controversies. He led a simple life dressed in whites, and kept his record clean. No alcoholism, no addictions. If one was there, it was for producing and leaving behind a ‘cult’. The winner of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award unfortunately passed away in November 17, 1971. He is remembered as the highest-paid director of the country, who not only fueled the success of Bengali cinema but the Indian film industry as a whole.

Ipshita Sur Author
I know you won't believe this but the ghosts speak to me, narrate their epic moments and life histories- the concoction I work on here

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