[Reader-list] Subrata Mitra

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Mon Dec 10 19:51:29 IST 2001

Subrata Mitra, who photographed the Apu Trilogy (1955-1959) and worked with Satyajit Ray till Charulata (1964) passed away in Kolkata last Friday, 7 December. A friend tells me that the film industry there didn't stop work that day and in Chennai, where I live, I haven't seen a public obituary notice as yet.

For the past few years, Subrata was doing something that he always loved, teaching and working with young filmmakers at the Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute in Kolkata.

Subrata is credited with having  pioneered techniques - born out of necessity - that were later used by people like Raoul Coutard in the French New Wave period. He was greatly respected both internationally and here and had a large number of disciples. He didn't do...or perhaps get...that much work though, partly because he had a reputation for being difficult, like insisting that Indira Gandhi herself stand in while he took a light reading for a shot of her. 

Subrata belonged to a band of people, working from the 40-s to the 80-s, whose aesthetics, sensiblities and techniques absorbed the spirit of the public spaces they inhabited - in this case, the street corners, coffee houses and middleclass dwellings of Kolkata. Now that these spaces themselves are being dismantled, I don't suppose there is any possibility of the reverse happening.

Dhritiman Chaterji

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