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National award-winning filmmaker Sumitra Bhave dies at 78

The director had been suffering from asthma-related complications for the past few weeks.

Photo: Courtesy of Sumitra Bhave on Facebook

Our Correspondent

National award-winning filmmaker, social scientist and writer Sumitra Bhave died early on 19 April in Pune's Sahyadri hospital. She was 78. The director had been suffering from asthma-related complications for the past few weeks. 

Bhave, along with her longtime co-director Sunil Sukhthankar, changed the face of Marathi cinema with her concise and enlightening works that delved deeply into psychology while bringing to the fore important social and environmental issues. A winner of multiple National awards, she graduated from Pune's famed Fergusson College with a Masters degree.

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She later went on to earn another Master's degree, in Political Science and Sociology, along with a diploma in Rural Welfare from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Bhave first donned the director's cap for the short film, Bai, during her stint as director of research project for Streevani, a women's organization, in 1985. The work, which is centred on a housewife from the slums of Pune who surmounts a host of challenges, won the National award for Best Non-Feature Film. 

Bhave went on to make several short films such as Paani (1987), Mukti (1990), Chakori (1992) and Laaha (1994). In 1995, she collaborated with Sukhthankar for the first time to direct Doghi. The film set off a tremendously fruitful partnership that saw the duo making hard-hitting works of cinema such as Dahavi Fa (2002), Vastupurush (2002), Devrai (2004), Astu (2016), Kaasav (2017) and Dithee (2018). 

Bhave was active behind the camera well into her 70s and won the National award for Best Feature Film for Kaasav in 2018. 

The filmmaker even lent her voice to Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple (2021), which will now be her last cinematic credit. 

Fans and filmmakers mourned the demise of Bhave on social media.