Bollywood legend began directing in 1955

Bollywood director Shakti Samanta, who helmed such hits as “Aradhana,” “Kati patang,” and “Howrah Bridge” died April 9 following a short illness in Mumbai.

Samanta, who had served as head of the Indian Motion Pictures Assn., was 83.

Born in the state of Bengal, Samanta was a schoolteacher before entering Bombay cinema as an assistant director in 1948. He worked at the famous Bombay Talkies studios with helmers such as Phani Majumdar, another Bengali.

He started out directing film in 1955 with the black and white “Bahu.” But the thriller “Howrah Bridge,” which he apparently conceived while recovering from a car accident, made him a name.

Over a five-decade career his films were famous for the songs, some of which resonate even with today’s generation like “Mera naam Chin Chin Choo” from 1958′s “Howrah Bridge.” He collaborated with composer S.D. Burman on many of those films and later with his son R.D. Burman.

His 1967 pic “An Evening in Paris” created a stir for an image of actress Sharmila Tagore in a bathing suit. The scene was cut from the movie at the censor board’s insistence but did make the pic’s ads.

Among the stars that Samanta launched were Rajesh Khanna, whose career took off after “Aradhana.”

His last outing was 2002′s “Devdas.”

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