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How Mrinal Sen's depiction of Calcutta made me see my hometown

Sen, who died on December 30 last year, compelled many of us to rub our eyes and take a clearer view of the city

Mrinal Sen
Mrinal Sen | Photo: Twitter (@gautamdebmic)

Dipu (Anjan Dutta) finds himself obsessed with coal-fuelled earthen ovens, once used ubiquitously for cooking in Calcutta, while searching for a feature story he has been commissioned to write by a newspaper. “How many ovens are there in Calcutta?” asks his younger brother Apu as the two of them, standing on the roof of their rented tenement, stare at smoke emanating from thousands in the neighbourhood. Smoke seems to throw a blanket all over the city, making it a little blurry, in Mrinal Sen’s 1981 film Chalchitra. Even the British had passed a law to prevent this ...