'Mrinalda, the world, and for sure my world won't be the same without you,' Nandita Das tells Subhash K Jha.
Mrinal Sen who passed away on Sunday was not only a brilliant auteur, he was also very prolific until his health began to fail and his pace of film-making slackened.
Mrinalda's last film as a director was Aamar Bhuvan in 2002, which according to its leading lady is nowhere to be found.
Says Nandita Das, "I had known Mrinalda for over 20 years, but it was 2002, when I finally got to work with him in his last film, Aamar Bhuvan. After premiering at the festival in Kolkata, we both went to the Cairo Film Festival and won awards, then the film vanished without a trace."
"Ever since I have been trying to find it, but to no avail."
"This is how we respect our great masters!"
Editor's note: 'After reading Nandita's interview, Rediff.com's long-time Contributor Aseem Chhabra informed us that Aamar Bhuvan can be watched on Amazon Prime.'
'Aseem helpfully sent us a screen shot, which you can see, so Nandita and Mrinalda's many, many, admirers can savour Aamar Bhuvan and other Sen films.'
Recalling her last meeting with Mrinalda when she took her son Vivaan along for the Maestro's blessing, Nandita says, "I met him last on November 11 when I was in Kolkata for the Kolkata Film Festival."
"No trip to the city was ever complete without meeting him."
"I cherish every meeting with him."
"He would not leave my hand even when he was too frail to talk."
"It was heartbreaking to leave him and even more to see him fade away into silence."
Mrinalda, says Nandita was a voluble, vibrant, film-maker.
"A man of many words, and even more actions. Today, there is a vacuum that no one can fill... not in Indian cinema, not in the world of artists."
"Mrinalda's conscience made sure there was no dissonance between his life and work," says Nandita. "Not in the lives that he had touched."
Mrinalda, Nandita reveals, was a dear friend to many, though not to all.
"Bondhu (friend), which is what his son Kunal Sen called him, was a bondhu to many. Though not all."
"He had little patience for the bigoted and hypocrites."
"He was my friend, philosopher and guide, in the true sense of the word."
"Mrinalda, the world, and for sure my world won't be the same without you. You meant a lot to me."
Though in his later years Mrinalda was known not to recognise friends, he was at his lucid best when Nandita met him on November 11.
"We spoke. He held my hand and refused to leave it. He blessed Vihaan."
"Even his son and doctor were surprised that he responded so much. They said on occasions he gets animated when close ones come to visit."
"I was very close to him. It feels strange that one has to mourn in public today with hashtags!!"