The curtains got here down on an period in Bengali cinema as Soumitra Chatterjee, 85, probably the most illustrious protégé of legendary director Satyajit Ray, died at a non-public hospital in south Kolkata at 12.15 pm on Sunday. He was affected by Covid encephalopathy.
With the Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner’s loss of life, a 61-year-long journey in motion pictures and theatre that have been influenced by Bengal’s historical past, creation of Bangladesh, the Emergency and rise of Marxism and formed by the works of immortal writers, got here to an finish.
Most of the good actors with whom Chatterjee shared display house – Chhabi Biswas, Uttam Kumar, Utpal Dutta and Subhendu Chatterjee to call only a few — handed away over the a long time. Chatterjee was the final male face of what the veterans also known as the golden age. The chronicle of his life, which gave the viewers round 300 motion pictures in monochrome and color, stands as testimony.
When Mohit Kumar Chatterjee and his spouse, Asha, had their second son on January 19, 1935, no one in the household probably thought that the title Soumitra would contact a chord with tens of millions sometime.
Fondly known as Pulu, a nickname the Chatterjees discovered apt for the naughty boy who would run across the household’s residence at Krishnanagar in Nadia district, Soumitra confirmed the primary indicators of a performer among the many 4 siblings at a quite younger age.
“Our family moved to Howrah when I was around ten. I was the high jump champion at the Howrah Zilla School. My parents had great influence on me. My father inspired me to be an actor while my mother guided me into the world of poetry,” Chatterjee stated throughout a tv present in 2010, six years after he had been awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award given by the Government of India.
The veteran was already 75 in 2010, however actual recognition for the performer inside him had not but come.
Unlike no different actor in Indian cinema, Chatterjee performed key roles in as many as 14 motion pictures Ray made between 1959 and 1990. Most of these obtained nationwide and worldwide acclaim however Chatterjee, regardless of his excellent efficiency in some, by no means obtained the nationwide award for performing. These motion pictures included Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), the third in Ray’s internationally acclaimed Apu Trilogy, in which Chatterjee made his debut in 1959 because the husband of one other debutant, 15-year-old Sharmila Tagore.
Ray grew to become Chatterjee’s mentor. Their partnership lasted until Ray’s second final film, Shakha Proshakha (Branches of the Tree), launched in 1990. Their 31-year-long journey grew to become distinctive as Ray made Chatterjee stroll in and out of various characters comparable to personal detective Pradosh Mitra or, a village instructor (Hirak Rajar Deshe or The Kingdom of Diamonds, 1980) who led individuals right into a revolt in opposition to an autocratic king performed by one other doyen of Bengali cinema and theatre Utpal Dutta.
The different motion pictures of Ray in which Chatterjee stood out are Abhijan (The Expedition, 1962), Charulata (The Lonely Wife, 1964), Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest, 1969), Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder, 1973), Ghare Baire (The Home and The World, 1984) and Ganashatru (Enemy of the People, 1989).
Director Shyam Benegal, whereas commenting on Chatterjee throughout an interview, stated, “He has worked particularly for Satyajit Ray. All the films he has made for Ray are so extraordinary. He fits into the role in a way that he becomes the person you would know immediately. That’s a brilliant quality in an actor and he has that.”
Chatterjee, who graduated from City College and obtained his grasp’s diploma in Bengali literature from the Calcutta University, was immensely impressed by thespian Sisir Kumar Bhaduri, an icon in his time. Chatterjee joined theatre after faculty and obtained a job as an announcer on the All India Radio (AIR) the place he labored for about two years.
“I was closely associated with the great Sisir Kumar Bhaduri. It was almost predestined that I should be an actor. I made up my mind when I was doing my graduation. But I never thought that I would be a famous film star. Before witnessing a revolutionary change in India with Pather Panchali (the first part of the Apu Trilogy and released in 1955) I had a snobbish kind of an idea about cinema. I didn’t like Bengali cinema in those days,” Chatterjee candidly stated throughout an interview a long time after his debut.
Although he shared display house with acclaimed performers comparable to Uttam Kumar, Utpal Dutt, Suchitra Sen, Tanuja and Sharmila Tagore, Chatterjee, not like these co-actors, was at all times reluctant to attempt his luck in the Mumbai movie business. He appeared in solely two full-length Hindi motion pictures; Nirupama (1986), which was a telefilm, and Hindustani Sipahi (2002). Both have been made by Bengali administrators who had solid native actors. Some of the flicks Chatterjee labored in have been, nonetheless, later remade in Mumbai.
Often described by critics and followers because the hero of mental moviegoers and never the plenty, Chatterjee additionally labored for nationally acclaimed Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.
He performed the lead in Sen’s Akash Kusum (Up In the Clouds, 1965) reverse Aparna Sen, his life-long buddy and co-actor in many initiatives. The film was remade in Hindi 10 years later by one other legendary director, Basu Chatterjee. Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee, Manzil (vacation spot) did average enterprise however its music composed by R D Burman stays a chartbuster.
With Sinha, Chatterjee labored in Khudita Pashan (Hungry Stones, 1960), Jhinder Bandi (the Prisoner of Jhind, 1961) and Atonko (Fear, 1984).
Based on a novel by Sharadindu Bandopadhyay who was impressed by Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel, The Prisoner of Zenda, Jhinder Bandi noticed Chatterjee taking part in a ruthless villain for the primary time, and that too in opposition to Uttam Kumar who was then the star of Bengali cinema.
Chatterjee obtained the very best awards from the Government of India quite late in life. He even refused the Padma Shree twice as he felt that his prowess had not been acknowledged.
“I have long since lost all interest in these awards because they have so often been awarded to someone who didn’t deserve them. It is not an ego problem. It is just reasonable thinking. I have acted in 14 of Ray’s films and I have not been considered to be the best actor in any of them,” Chatterjee as soon as stated throughout an interview.
Chatterjee obtained the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 and 2011, the Padma Bhusan in 2004 and the National Film Award for performing in Podokkhep (footsteps) in 2006 though two of his extra well-known motion pictures obtained the National Film Award in 1991 and 2000.
Finally, in 2012, Chatterjee obtained the distinguished Dadasaheb Phalke award and, in 2018, the federal government of France honoured him with the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, (Legion of Honour) the very best civilian award in France. But right here too, Chatterjee adopted his mentor. Ray obtained the award from the French authorities in 1987.
Chatterjee gave an emotional speech after accepting the Dadasaheb Phalke Award from Hamid Ansari, the Vice-President of India.
“I am really not in a frame of mind to say anything about this. All my life I am have been plagued with a doubt about my work and always thought that maybe this business of entertainment is not really worthwhile. And I have always thought that if I could instead do something like Albert Schweitzer and go away to a distant leper colony and serve people, my life would have been worthwhile. But time and again for the last more than 50 years, I have been accepted, loved and made to feel as one of their own by my countrymen. I love them. I respect them. They are the reason I have come this far…. I salute them that they have supplied me with the energy and the determination to continue with what I believe in and what I think to be good art..,” stated Chatterjee.
The recognition moved some of the stalwarts in the Indian movie business.
“Mr Chatterjee getting the Phalke award is eminently deserved. I think he is one of those actors who would be counted as one the best in the world,” director Govind Nihalni stated in an interview.
An ardent follower of literature, a author and a poet, Chatterjee liked drawing sketches as effectively. But he by no means left theatre, his first ardour. He introduced his first play throughout his faculty days and directed or acted in a dozen extra over the subsequent few a long time.
In November 2010, Chatterjee put on make-up and Celtic costumes to look on stage on the age of 75 as Raja Lear (Kind Lear), a play primarily based on the tragedy by William Shakespeare and directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay. As he received accolades for the function, Chatterjee stated at a literary competition that he want to do Macbeth however was unsure if his well being would allow it.
A press release Chatterjee made throughout his final interview to a Bengali information channel a couple of months in the past confirmed the world his indomitable spirit and maybe his vulnerability as effectively.
“I feel alive because I am still acting,” he stated.
Nothing could possibly be extra true for a person who stunned the YouTube technology in 2015 by taking part in the husband of Radhika Apte, an actor a 3rd his age, in Sujoy Ghosh’s 14-minute movie, Ahalya.
Some of the films iconic actor Soumitra Chatterjee will be remembered for:
Apur Sansar, 1959
Khudita Pashan, 1960
Jhinder Bandi, 1961
Teen Kanya, 1961
Akash Kusum, 1965
Aranyer Din Ratri, 1969
Teen Bhubaner Paare, 1969
Prathom Kadam Phool, 1969
Baksho Badal, 1970
Ashani Sanket, 1973
Basanta Bilap, 1973
Sonar Kella, 1974
Hirak Rajar Deshe, 1980
Ghare Baire, 1984
Shakha Proshakha, 1990
Bela Seshe, 2015