James Quandt is Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto and a regular contributor to Artforum. In 2014 he organized The Sun and the Moon, an extensive retrospective of the films of Satyajit Ray. (May 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

Filmmaker by Accident

Montage: Life. Politics. Cinema.

by Mrinal Sen, with photographs by Subhash Nandy
Over almost a century, the Bengali film director Mrinal Sen has witnessed mass famine, the partition of his homeland and the ceding of his birthplace to another country, deadly street battles between Maoist guerrillas and the police, and the rise to power of right-wing nationalists in his traditionally leftist state. Sen responded to historical calamity by cultivating what he called “rough edges,” a rejection of the formal refinement and tonal subtleties of his Calcuttan compatriot and inspiration Satyajit Ray. Humane, intellectual (but, he claims, not at all erudite), religiously agnostic and politically radical, contradictorily inclined to blunt appraisal and cunning ambiguity, Sen gradually transformed from a polemicist to a poet committed to incertitude.