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The Vinci Da of Bengali universe
Raja, ek je chilo o thakchhen! - The maestro of the Bengali Film industry whose art films are viewed by an audience ranging from the youth to the 70s, from national to international lining of seats, sculpting some of the promising actors/actresses of today - taking our readers back to the beginning of this journey, when one of the most successful directors in the virtual world today, took a start.
The Bengali maestro. Image Source: Times of India.

Born on 23rd September 1977

Cinema is a queen regnant of the current entertainment industry. Be it watching them in square boxes of our smart phones to the bigger rectangle of movie theatres, cinema has never failed to give us a much needed break from our hectic, tiring lives. Mostly, our eyes roll to a commercial movie for its wide setting of dance, music, a range of exotic foreign locations and groovy soundtracks. One or two special ‘item numbers’ elevates the success of these movies in the box office. Often the sparkle and glamour shadows the art films, films which are usually devoid of such party numbers. What they have, is an intact storyline, a dynamic script and a bunch of outstanding actors delivering their best. Do I need to mention the mastermind behind these exceptional paragons? The director.

Srijit Mukherji, a man with a tour de force, a director towing these art films out of a limited audience's watch, and attracting the visions of the new generation, hunting our minds with thrillers, mysteries and quirky dramas.

Our virtuoso didn’t start with a flicker of directorship from the childhood. His life deviated from an economist to a statistician till he finally left his job to follow his passion. Amidst all of it, he always found himself entangled with the English professional theatre circuit in Delhi and Bangalore. In an eccentric way, he commenced his propitious journey by acting in some of the precious gems of the theatre world – Madness, adapted from Paulo Coelho’s Vernonica Decides to Die, The Orchard of Banchharam, The Other Side of History, Sunil Gangopadhay’s *Pratidwandi- The Adversary, and *Lucknow 76.

He brought his own ensemble, Pandora’s Act, inaugurated by Feluda Pherot! –considered as the first non canonical dramatized hit of Satyajit Ray’s prized detective, Pradosh Mitter (Or, our beloved Feluda). The production housed Parambrata Chatterjee, rising from Topshe (nephew of Feluda) to numerous successful roles. He embraced assistant directorship for Anjan Dutta’s Madly Bengalee and Aprna Sen’s Iti Mrinalini alongwith being the lyricist and actor in both in 2009.

The sculptor, Srijit Mukherji, with the very talented Parambrata Chatterjee. Image Source: Telegraph India
2010 proved to be a remarkable year for Srijit. His debut feature film as a director, Autograph, grabbed 41 awards and was selected in MIAAC Film Festival in New York in 2010, Abu Dhabi International Film Festival in 2010, Glasgow International Film Festival in 2011, and London Indian Film Festival in the same year.
The first sign of success. Image Source: IMDb

From there, another gift that Srijit received, was a sturdy bond between him, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Anupam Roy (tollywood’s favourite musician), which later became a Srijit factor!

His second directorial feature in 2011, Baishe Srabon, impacted the audience massively with the powerful cast of Prosenjit Chatterjee, Parambrata Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee, Raima Sen and Gautam Ghose, whose returned to acting after 29 years. It sticked to the box office for 105 days, and was acclaimed as the biggest blockbuster of the year. Baishe Srabon won 41 awards. His next was a quirky drama, Hemlock Society, depicting a school monitored by Parambrata Chatterjee, teaching how to commit suicide to a miserably vulnerable Koel Mallick, winning 21 awards.

After Mishwar Rawhashyo and Kakababu, he striked the box office again with another blockbuster, Jaatishwar, a musical reincarnation drama. It is ticked as the best in his career. Jaatishwar bagged 4 prestigious awards in the categories of Music Direction, Playback Singing, Costume and Makeup in the 61st National Awards 2014. It was the second highest collection for a Bengali film, and the highest for a film in India that year.
Following the success of Jaatishwar, Chotushkone brought Srijit the award for the Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography in the 62nd National Awards 2015.
He was honoured with the Young Achiever Award from Rotary International, the Shoilojanando Mukhopadhyay Memorial Award in 2012, the Uttam Kumar Memorial Award from the Government of West Bengal in 2013 and the *BFJA award*s for his benefaction to the Bengali cinema.

He swayed away from the mainstream drama releases with Nirbaak and Rajkahini. In 2018, he released Uma and Ek Je Chhilo Raja. Ek Je Chhilo Raja won 23 awards and voyaged to 7 film festivals all over the world, while Uma brought in 6 awards.

2019 marked the release of Shah Jahan Regency, Vinci Da and Gumnami, which were critically acclaimed and in 2020, Dwitiyo Purush. His brilliance can be found in Ray, a series of short movies in Netflix, in 2021.

With Kay Kay Menon on the sets of Ray. Image Source: News18
In these dark days of coronavirus threatening our existence, he constantly worked for the welfare of the common men by updating information about the availability of hospital beds, medicines-totally submitting his social media handles to bring out a network of young helping hands. We are thankful to have him as a humble example of moving out of their comfort seats, taking down the blindfold of privilege and stardom and working as a simple man, aiding those in need. Let's close the diary of his success and praise with an eagerness for his future releases, by sending warm regards on this auspicious occasion.
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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