MUMBAI: Veteran film-maker Shakti Samanta passed away at his residence in Mumbai on Thursday following a prolonged illness. He was 83. Samanta has given some of Bollywood's evergreen hits like Aradhana, Amar Prem, Kati Patang, Amanush, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (Anusandhan in Bengali), The Great Gambler, Howrah Bridge, Chinatown and Kashmir Ki Kali.
His son Aushim Samanta said, "My father suffered a stroke about two months ago and was recovering from it. On Thursday evening, while he was undergoing physiotherapy, he suffered a cardiac arrest. He left us at 6 pm.''
Born in Burdwan, West Bengal, Samanta wanted to be a Bollywood actor
. He moved to Mumbai, but his first job here was of a teacher (in a Dapoli school). It was in 1948 that he got his first break and went on to work as an assistant director with the likes of Gyan Mukherjee, Satish Nigam and Phani Mazumdar at Bombay Talkies.
His first directorial venture was Bahu (1954) and he turned producer with Howrah Bridge (1957). Samanta never looked back thence, as he went on to give hits after hits. Sharmila Tagore, introduced to Hindi films by Samanta, said, "It is the end of an era. Music was always an integral part of his cinema. He is gone, but his music will live with us forever.''
Samanta also started the trend of bilingual films. He directed 43 films, 37 in Hindi and six in Bengali, and brought the best out of stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh and Tagore. Parekh, who worked with him in Kati Patang and Pagla Kahin Kaa, said, "I wanted to see him while he was in hospital, but was told his condition was critical and nobody was allowed to meet him. I feel miserable.''
Samanta's funeral will take place at the Santa Cruz crematorium on Friday at 11 am.