Page last updated at 09:24 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Top Indian filmmaker Sinha dies

Poster of a Tapan Sinha film
Sinha's films straddled a range of themes

Leading Indian filmmaker Tapan Sinha has died in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta (Kolkata) at the age of 84.

Sinha, who suffered breathlessness and a chest infection late last year, died in a city hospital.

Last year, he was awarded the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award - the highest national cinema honour - for his contribution to Indian cinema.

Sinha, who made some 40 films - mostly in Bengali - was a versatile filmmaker who straddled a range of themes.

Born in the eastern state of West Bengal - which was home to some of India's most-acclaimed directors like the Oscar-winning Satyajit Ray - Tapan Sinha carved out a niche for himself as an intelligent and popular filmmaker.

Making films in Bengali and later in Hindi, he took on a wide variety of subjects.

'Unassuming gentleman'

Some of his films like Kabuliwalla, Harmonium and Jhinder Bandi became box office hits in Bengal. Ek Doctor Ki Maut (A doctor's death), made in Hindi, gained him nationwide recognition.

"He was an unassuming gentleman who had a strong ear for music and great command over adaptation of famous literary works," film critic Shoma A Chatterji told Reuters news agency.

Sinha began his career as a sound engineer and shot into the limelight with his 1956 feature Kabuliwalla, based on the story of a relationship between a girl and an Afghan dry fruit-seller by Nobel Prize-winning author Rabindranath Tagore.

He then took up several political and social themes - Adalat O Ekti Meye (The Law and a Lady), for example, dealt with a rape victim ostracised by society.

Sinha won more than a dozen film awards in India for his work.

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