The curtains got here down on an period in Bengali cinema as Soumitra Chatterjee, 85, essentially the most illustrious protégé of the legendary director Satyajit Ray, died at a personal hospital in south Kolkata at 12.15 pm on Sunday. He was affected by Covid encephalopathy.
With the Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner’s departure, a 61-year-long journey in films and performs that had 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.
A lot of the nice actors with whom Chatterjee shared display house – Chhabi Biswas, Uttam Kumar, Utpal Dutta and Subhendu Chatterjee to call just some – 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 films in monochrome and color, stands as a sworn statement.
When Mohit Kumar Chatterjee and his spouse, Asha, had their second son on January 19, 1935, no person within the household presumably thought that the identify Soumitra would contact a chord with hundreds of thousands sometime.
Fondly referred to as Pulu, a nickname the Chatterjees discovered apt for the naughty boy who would run across the household’s dwelling at Krishnanagar in Nadia district, Soumitra confirmed the primary indicators of a performer among the many 4 siblings at a reasonably younger age.
“Our household moved to Howrah once I was round ten. I used to be the excessive leap champion on the Howrah Zilla College. My mother and father had nice affect on me. My father impressed me to be an actor whereas my mom 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 award given to civilians by the federal government of India.
The veteran was already 75 in 2010 however actual recognition for the performer inside him had not but come.
Not like no different actor in Indian cinema, Chatterjee performed the important thing roles in as many as 14 films Ray made between 1959 and 1990. Most of those acquired nationwide and worldwide acclaim however Chatterjee, regardless of his excellent efficiency in some, by no means obtained the nationwide award for appearing. These films included Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), the third in Ray’s internationally recognised Apu Trilogy, wherein 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 out and in of various characters similar to non-public detective Pradosh Mitra or, a village trainer (Hirak Rajar Deshe or The Kingdom of Diamonds, 1980) who led folks right into a revolution towards an autocratic king performed by Utpal Dutta.
The opposite films of Ray wherein Chatterjee stood out are Abhijan (The Expedition, 1962), Charulata (The Lonely Spouse, 1964), Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights within the Forest, 1969), Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder, 1973), Ghare Baire (The Dwelling and The World, 1984) and Ganashatru (Enemy of the Individuals, 1989).
Director Shyam Benegal, whereas commenting on Chatterjee throughout an interview, stated, “He has labored significantly for Satyajit Ray. All of the movies he has made for Ray are so extraordinary. He suits into the function in a means that he turns into the individual you’d know instantly. That’s a superb high quality in an actor and he has that.”
Chatterjee, who graduated from Metropolis School and obtained his grasp’s diploma in Bengali literature from the Calcutta College, was immensely impressed by thespian Sisir Kumar Bhaduri, an icon in his time. Chatterjee joined the theatre after school and obtained a job as an announcer on the All India Radio the place he labored for about two years.
“I used to be intently related to the nice Sisir Kumar Bhaduri. It was nearly predestined that I needs to be an actor. I made up my thoughts once I was doing my commencement. However I by no means thought that I’d be a well-known movie star. Earlier than witnessing a revolutionary change in India with Pather Panchali (the primary a part of Apu Trilogy and launched in 1955) I had a snobbish form of an thought about cinema. I didn’t like Bengali cinema these days,” Chatterjee candidly stated throughout an interview a long time after his debut.
Though he shared display house with acclaimed performers similar to Uttam Kumar, Utpal Dutt, Suchitra Sen, Tanuja and Sharmila Tagore, Chatterjee, in contrast to these co-actors, was at all times reluctant to strive his luck within the Mumbai movie trade. He appeared in solely two full-length Hindi films; Nirupama (1986), which was a telefilm, and Hindustani Sipahi (2002). Each had been made by Bengali administrators who had forged native actors. A number of the films Chatterjee labored in had been nevertheless later remade in Mumbai.
Typically described by critics and followers because the hero of mental moviegoers and never the plenty, Chatterjee additionally labored for the nationally acclaimed Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.
He performed the lead in Sen’s Akash Kusum (Up Within the Clouds, 1965) reverse Aparna Sen, his life-long pal and co-actor in lots of 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 reasonable 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 (Concern, 1984).
Primarily 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 towards Uttam Kumar who was then the star of Bengali cinema.
Chatterjee acquired the very best awards from the federal government of India reasonably late in life. He even refused the Padma Shree twice as he felt that his prowess had not been acknowledged.
“I’ve lengthy since misplaced all curiosity in these awards as a result of they’ve so typically been awarded to somebody who didn’t deserve it. It isn’t an ego drawback. It’s simply affordable pondering. I’ve acted in 14 of Ray’s movies and I’ve not been thought of to be the perfect actor in any of them,” Chatterjee as soon as stated throughout an interview.
Chatterjee acquired the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 and 2011, the Padma Bhusan in 2004 and the Nationwide Movie Award for appearing in Podokkhep (footsteps) in 2006 though two of his extra well-known films obtained the Nationwide Movie Award in 1991 and 2000.
Lastly, in 2012, Chatterjee acquired 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. However right here too, Chatterjee adopted his mentor. Ray acquired 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’m actually not in a state of mind to say something about this. All my life I’m have been plagued with a doubt about my work and at all times thought that perhaps this enterprise of leisure will not be actually worthwhile. And I’ve at all times thought that if I might as a substitute do one thing like Albert Schweitzer and go away to a distant leper colony and serve folks, my life would have been worthwhile. However again and again for the final greater than 50 years I’ve been accepted, liked and made to really feel as one in every of their very own by my countrymen. I like them. I respect them. They’re the explanation I’ve come this lengthy…. I salute them that they’ve equipped me with the vitality and the willpower to proceed with what I imagine in and what I feel to be good artwork..,” stated Chatterjee.
The popularity moved among the stalwarts within the Indian movie trade.
“Mr Chatterjee getting the Phalke award is eminently deserved. I feel he’s a kind of actors who could be counted as one the perfect on the earth,” director Govind Nihalni stated in an interview.
An ardent follower of literature, a author and a poet, Chatterjee liked drawing sketches as effectively. However he by no means left theatre, his first ardour. He offered his first play throughout school days and directed or acted in a dozen extra over the subsequent a long time.
In November 2010, Chatterjee placed on make-up and Celtic costumes to seem on stage on the age of 75 as Raja Lear (Variety 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 pageant that he wish 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 just a few months in the past confirmed the world his indomitable spirit and maybe his vulnerability we effectively.
“I really feel alive as a result of I’m nonetheless appearing,” he stated.
Nothing might 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-minuute movie, Ahalya.
A number of the movies Soumitra Chatterjee will probably 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