indian cinema heritage foundation

Asit Sen (actor)

  • Born: 13 May, 1917 (Gorakhpur, United Provinces, British India)
  • Died: 18 September, 1993 (Kolkata)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi

Born on 13 May, 1917 in Gorakhpur, actor Asit Sen also known as Asit Kumar Sen, started his career with New Theatres, going on to act in over 200 films in the course of his four decade-long career. Getting off the mark with Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin (1953), some of the films he featured in are Parakh (1960), Bees Saal Baad (1962), Bandini (1963), Teesri Kasam (1966), Do Dooni Char (1968), Buddha Mil Gaya (1971) and Anand (1971). While Sen often portrayed characters with authority such as a landlord or police inspector, the comic element was introduced by his high-pitched voice and long-drawn-out style of dialogue delivery. He also directed two films namely Parivar (1956) and Apradhi Kaun (1957) for his mentor Bimal Roy’s production house. He is not to be confused with Asit Sen, the renowned director, screenwriter and cinematographer who worked in Bengali and Hindi cinema. 

Sen had started his career assisting filmmaker Bimal Roy in Calcutta. When the film industry based in Calcutta was on the decline, Sen also moved to Bombay in 1950 as part of Bimal Roy’s team, which comprised Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Nabendu Ghosh, Kamal Bose and later Salil Chaudhury. Even as he experimented with essaying minor roles in films, Sen worked “step by step, with patient and determined labour,” to become a director. From being a fourth directorial assistant, holding the clapboard before the camera at the start of every new set, keeping notes of the takes to be printed and those to be scrapped, arriving on the sets before anyone else came and leaving it after everyone else had left, he served for 13 years as assistant to Bimal Roy, before he went on to direct Parivar (1956) and Apradhi Kaun (1957) for his mentor’s production house. Parivar was a frothy family drama, containing a positive message namely the importance and contribution of women in a joint family. Sen’s other directorial Apradhi Kaun explored a different genre. A murder mystery, it was based on the Bengali novel Kaalo Chhaya by Premendra Mitra, who incidentally also directed a Bengali film on the subject bearing the same title. The film had music composed by Salil Chowdhury and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The story revolved around a wealthy man, suspected of murder, who is killed before he can be arrested. Everyone in his household is under suspicion. A private investigator looks into the case and finds himself falling in love with one of the suspects. It starred Abhi Bhattacharya, Mala Sinha, Gajanan Jagirdar, and others. 

Opting to focus only on acting, Sen went on to play comic roles in a plethora of films. Fortunately for him, audiences thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed his appearances as an entertaining comedian. He played many types of roles from long, short, comic, serious and important supporting characters. 

Asit Sen passed away on 18 September, 1993.