New Delhi: This latest biography explores the life and work of one of the most underrated, yet successful, filmmakers in Hindi cinema, Basu Chatterji. A mild, unobtrusive, media-shy and seemingly common man, Chatterji’s enigmatic film career took the spotlight away from the stars and placed it onto the everyday man.
Published by Penguin India, ‘Basu Chatterji And Middle-of-the-Road Cinema‘ by Anirudha Bhattacharjee will be released on 23 March on Softcover, ThePrint’s online venue to launch non-fiction books.
This biography is filled with anecdotes and explores the enigmatic nature of Chatterji’s films. Often referred to as a “middle-of-the-road” filmmaker, as his films neither fit the box office characteristics nor were they complex art house cinema, Chatterji was instead known as an auteur of the common man. From employment, social and economic inequalities to joint family conflicts and more, his films like Chhoti Si Baat, Rajnigandha, Chitchor among others, portrayed the issues of the common man with charm, warmth and humour.
The author, Anirudha Bhattacharjee, is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and an avid chronicler of music and cinema. His first book, R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music, co-written with Balaji Vittal, won the National Award for best book on cinema in 2012. While he is an SAP consultant by profession, his books on music have won several awards such as the MAMI Award and more. Some of his bestsellers include, Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, S.D. Burman: The Prince-Musician and Kishore Kumar: The Ultimate Biography. ‘Basu Chatterji And Middle-of-the-Road Cinema’ is Bhattacharjee’s first book on a filmmaker.
Through its roughly 300 pages, divided into three parts, the author covers numerous aspects of Chatterji’s life, from his time in Mumbai (then Bombay), how he examines the common man’s problems in his films to the hits and misses of his career and defining a new genre of movies within Bollywood. This biography goes behind the scenes of Chatterji’s work and places it within the changing times, from the emergence of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore Kumar to the decadent phase of Hindi cinema in the 1980s.
Rachel Dwyer, Professor Emerita of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS University of London, called the book “an invaluable resource for fans, scholars and anyone interested in Indian cinema”.
Film producer, director, writer, lyricist and journalist Amit Khanna said, “This is a book which was long overdue. Anirudha Bhattacharjee writes with compassion about India’s most underrated director. The harbinger of new-wave cinema, Basu-da went on to make some of the best cinema of the ’70s and ’80s.”
“There has been a visible void waiting to be captured about the cinema of Basu Chatterji, who gave Hindi cinema its common man and gave me one of my loveliest films, Khatta Meetha. Anirudha Bhattacharjee has done it with his meticulously researched and almost visually narrated book”, says Bindiya Goswami, actress and costume designer.
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