Sailen Bose, the cinematographer turned actor, has left an indelible mark on early Indian cinema. He worked in the British Dominion Films studio that was based in Dumdum, Calcutta in 1929 during the silent era. The board of directors of the studio included P C Barua and the financial aspect of the studio was overlooked by Dhiren Ganguly. Unfortunately, the studio that was set up in 1929 could only make eight films and shut down in 1930 due to the transition to sound. He started out as a cinematographer in Debaki Bose’s Sonar Sansar/ Sunehra Sansar (1936). He worked in the capacity of a cinematographer in films such as Milap (1937), Seva Sadan (1938), Raithu Bidda (1939), and Dard (1947). He worked as the cinematographer in the Tamil film Malaikallan (1954), which was directed by S M Sriramulu Naidu.
He later took up the opportunity to act on screen. In 1949, he started his acting career with Namoona, starring Dev Anand, Kamini Kaushal, and Leela Chitnis. He was part of Bimal Roy’s Parineeta (1953) which starred Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. Bose worked with other major filmmakers as an actor such as Subodh Mukherjee in Paying Guest (1957), Gyan Mukherjee in Sardar (1955), Asit Sen in Apradhi Kaun? (1957), Raj Khosla in Bombai Ka Babu (1960) and Shakti Samanta in Howrah Bridge (1958).
He believed in projects that had a message for society and often chose to act in socials such as Sardar, Sitaron Se Aagey (1958), etc. In his career, he acted alongside stars such as Mala Sinha, Madhubala, Nutan, Sunil Dutt, Leela Naidu, and Balraj Sahni. His last film Half Ticket (1962) was released posthumously.