August 28, 2006

Veteran Bollywood director Mukherjee dies at 83

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Bollywood filmmaker Hrishikesh
Mukherjee, who stood apart with his touching stories about
India's teeming middle class, has died of kidney failure,
hospital authorities said on Monday.

Mukherjee, 83, who started his career in 1948 as an
assistant director, made over 40 Hindi films and was regarded
as a trendsetting Bollywood director.

He was ailing for some weeks and was admitted to a hospital
in Mumbai, where he died late on Sunday.

Mukherjee's films focused on the myriad emotions of
ordinary Indians and mirrored his socialist values -- rare in
an industry known for its song-dance routines and romantic or
violent dramas.

"We were friends and grew up together, but when I thought
about gatecrashing into Indian cinema, Hrishikesh had already
done it," said renowned Indian filmmaker Mrinal Sen.

"We are all shocked today," he added.

Although he worked with a cross-section of Bollywood stars,
Mukherjee is most remembered for 'Mili', 'Anand' and 'Chupke
Chupke', which he made in the 1970s and cast Bollywood icon
Amitabh Bachchan, who had then just broken into mainstream

The films were superhits and became trendsetting celluloid
portraits of middle-class men and women, critics said.

Mukherjee made his last film in 1998 and has since been
living the life of a recluse, mourning the loss of his wife,
brother and his younger son.

"He never spoke much about his work and kept to himself,
but his movies had already revealed his persona to the world,"
Sen added.