Veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, known for his relatable, light-as-souffle brand of cinema with films such as Rajnigandha and Chitchor, died on Thursday following age-related health issues. He was 93.
Chatterjee, who is survived by his daughters Sonali Bhattacharya and Rupali Guha, died in his sleep at his Santacruz residence.
"He passed away peacefully in his sleep in the morning. He hadn't been keeping well for quite a while due to old age problems and died at his residence. It's a great loss for the film industry," Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film & Television Directors' Association (IFTDA), told PTI.
The last rites of the filmmaker, who blazed a middle-of-the-road trail in the 1970s and 1980s, will be performed at the Santacruz crematorium, Pandit said.
Many people in the film industry and outside condoled the death of the director, who placed the middle class and its everyday joys and struggles at the centre of his cinematic world.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Saddened at the demise of legendary film director and screenwriter Basu Chatterjee. He gave us gems like Chhoti Si Baat, Chitchor, Rajanigandha, Byomkesh Bakshi, Rajni among others. Condolences to his family, friends, fans & the entire film fraternity."
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta said Chatterjee leaves behind a great legacy of cinema gems.
"Basu Chatterjee moves on. For me very few see the lighter side of life like he did. All his films have a smirk on their faces. I'm a big fan. And I have Kahaani 2 to prove it," said Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh said.
Chatterjee began as a cartoonist in a tabloid but changed his career path after assisting Basu Bhattacharya in the Raj Kapoor-Waheeda Rehman starrer Teesri Kasam.
The two Basus along with Hrishikesh Mukherjee formed the Hindi cinema triumvirate whose ethos lay firmly in the middle class and its day-to-day struggles at a time when most of Bollywood was focused on larger-than-life stories of angst and tragedy led by Amitabh Bachchan.
Actors like Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab were the stars that were favoured by Chatterjee to tell aspiring stories of the middle class.
His cinema was progressive for the times, unhurried and a slice of everyday life — about conversations over cups of chai and romances blossoming in public buses, trains and office buildings.
Some of his best known works are Us Paar, Chitchor, Piya Ka Ghar, Khatta Meetha and Baton Baton Mein.
The filmmaker passed away less than a week after the death of lyricist Yogesh Gaur, who penned many popular songs in Chatterjee's films, including Rajinigandha Phool Tumhare and Na Jaane Kyun. Gaur died on May 29.