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Harisadhan Dasgupta (Bengali: হরিসাধন দাশগুপ্ত; born 1923, died August 19, 1996, Santiniketan) is an Indian film director, assistant director and writer and the the doyen of documentary film making in India.
Life and Career:
Tarulata Dasgupta was his mother and his father Dr.Biraj Mohon Dasgupta, was a renowned protozologist-the second Indian to become a director of School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta. They had a sprawling mansion at Southern Avenue in Calcutta.
His father wanted him to be a physicist and sent him to England during the Second World War to for higher studies. But his creative urge propelled him to University of Southern California where he learned filmmaking. He assisted Irving Pichel in one of his films. In late forties and fifties, after returning to Calcutta, he started making documentary films like Tata Steel, Konark, A day in the life of a cigarette ( for ITC). And he was started to be called as “Hari S” by his friends as a result of his penchant for everything American.
Studied film-making first at USC and later at UCLA (1945). Apprenticed to Hollywood film-maker Irving Pichel and present during the making of RKO’s They Won’t Believe Me (1947) and Universal’s Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948). Founder member with Satyajit Ray, Chidananda Dasgupta, Asit Sen et al. of the Calcutta Film Society (1947). Assisted Jean Renoir in making The River (1951) and shot best-known documentary Konarak (1949) with Renoir’s brother Claude. The film was partly remade in a ‘popular version’ by his brother Bulu for Films Division (1958). Début, A Perfect Day, is a featurette promoting cigarettes sponsored by the National Tobacco Co. scripted by Ray, produced by Chdananda Dasgupta and shot by Ajoy Kar. It combined a vérité style with a fictional script, announcing e.g. Ray’s 50s realism. Later made the classic documentary The Story of Steel sponsored by Tata Steel, India’s largest private sector corporation. It was scripted by Ray, shot by Claude Renoir and edited by Hrishikesh Mukherjee with music by Ravi Shankar. It became a model for the type of Nehruite nation-building socialist-realism later associated with Films Division. Best-known films with the Shell Film Unit. Dasgupta and Ray planned to film Tagore’s Ghare Baire, a project realised 30 years later by Ray in 1984. Made two features, Kamallata and the critically acclaimed Eki Ange Eto Rup. He is regarded as Sukhdev’s teacher, later contributing to Nine Months To Freedom (1972).
Sonali Dasgupta (Senroy) was his wife, who married later with Roberto Rossellini. His son Raja Dasgupta is now a documentary director and Chaitali Dasgupta (an actress) is his daughter in law. Birsa Dasgupta and Ribhu Dasgupta are his grandsons. Meghla Dasgupta is his great-granddaughter, also a film actress.
- 1948: A Perfect Day;
- 1949: Konarak: The Sun Temple;
- 1953: Weavers of Maindargi; Shaher Ki Jhalak; Gaon Ki Kahani;
- 1955: Panchthupi: A Village in West Bengal;
- 1956: The Story of Steel;
- 1960: Our Children Will Know Each Other Better;
- 1961: Panorama of West Bengal; Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray;
- 1964: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb;
- 1965: Baba; Malabar Story; Eki Ange Eto Rup; Glimpses of India; Quest for Health;
- 1969: Kamallata; The Automobile Industry in India;
- 1970: Terracotta Temples;
- 1971: The Tale of Two Leaves and a Bud; Port of Calcutta;
- 1973: Engineers (India) Limited;
- 1976: Preservation of Ancient Monuments;
- 1977: Bagha Jatin;
- 1978: Haldia Dock Complex; The Brave Do Not Die;
- 1981: The ITA Story;
- 1982: This Land is Mine; Mizoram;
- 1984: Acharya Nandalal.