Hrishikesh Mukherjee was a famous Indian film director. Hrishikesh Mukherjee was born in Calcutta, he studied science and graduated in chemistry from the University of Calcutta. He taught mathematics and science for some time.
Mukherjee chose to begin working, initially as a cameraman, and then film editor, in B. N. Sircar's New Theatres in Calcutta in the late 1940s, where he learned his skills from Subodh Mitter ('Kenchida'), a well known editor of his times. He then worked with Bimal Roy in Mumbai as film editor and assistant director from 1951, participating in the landmark Roy films 'Do Bigha Zameen' and 'Devdas'.
His debut directorial venture, 'Musafir' (1957), was not a success but he persisted and received acclaim for his second film 'Anari' in 1959. The film, crew and cast won five Filmfare Awards, with Mukherjee only losing the Best Director Award to his mentor, Bimal Roy. His string of hits with Dharmendra and Amitabh made him one of the golden directors. In the following years he made numerous films. Some of his most notable films include: 'Anuradha' (1960), 'Asli-Naqli' (1962), 'Anupama' (1966), 'Aashirwad' (1968), 'Satyakam' (1969), 'Guddi' (1971), Bawarchi (1972), 'Mili' (1975), 'Chupke Chupke' (1975), 'Khoobsurat' (1980) and 'Bemisal' (1982).
He was the first to introduce Dharmendra in comedy roles, through Chupke Chupke, and gave Amitabh Bachchan his big break with Anand in 1970, along with Rajesh Khanna, he also introduced Jaya Bhaduri to Hindi cinema in his film Guddi. Having worked with his mentor, Bimal Roy as an editor, in films like Madhumati, he was much sought after as an editor as well.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award by the Government of India, in 1999. Mukherjee was chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification and of the National Film Development Corporation. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award for his contribution to Indian cinema by government of India in 2001 . The International Film Festival of India honoured him with a retrospective of his films in November 2005. He holds the distinction of working with almost all the top Indian stars since independence of India in 1947.
The films were realistic and unlike the other Bollywood films do not have crime, violence. The simple plots contain deeper meaning, but are generally straightforward in form, theme and treatment. He directed around 50 films most of which were valued by audiences and critics alike because of their middle-of-the-road accessibility, heart-warming irony and literary sensibilities. His characters inhabited a middle-class, urban, educated milieu. One more characteristic of his films was that it had a character engrossed in music.
His last film was 'Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate'. Since his original hero Amol Palekar had grown old he had to choose Anil Kapoor. He has also directed TV serials like 'Talaash'. Another director making films akin to him is Basu Chatterjee.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee was suffering from chronic renal failure and would go to Lilavati Hospital for dialysis. He was admitted to Leelavati Hospital in Mumbai early on Tuesday, 6 June 2006 after he complained of uneasiness. Mukherjee died ten weeks later on 27th August 2006.