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Actor Soumitra Chatterjee passes away at 85

Sarvani Chavali 16th November, 2020

Chatterjee as Apu, in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (Source: DTNext)

Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee breathed his last in a Kolkata hospital on Sunday, at 85. The actor was admitted to the hospital on 6th October after testing covid positive. Though he eventually tested negative for the virus, his health deteriorated due to the infection and the extended stay in the ICU. His vital organs were severely affected due to this, particularly his central nervous system; he was put on a ventilator in the last week of October. The formal announcement of his death on Sunday had numbed Kolkata and his fans all around the globe.

The legendary actor known as one of the tallest in the Bengal film and theatre industries was a recipient of prestigious awards like Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award along with three National Film Awards. Chatterjee is also the first Indian film personality to be conferred with the Commander de I’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artists.

The actor had successfully starred in more than 300 movies in a span of 60 years. Soumitra Chatterjee was best known for his work alongside Satyajit Ray, one of the world’s most influential filmmakers and the creator of the critically acclaimed Apu Trilogy. The films gained an amazing response from the masses, winning many awards worldwide and making a place for Indian cinema on a global scale.

Born on January 19, 1935, Chatterjee pursued his interest in acting during his school days, where he starred in multiple plays. He went on to learn acting under a well-known theatre personality, Ahindra Choudhury. In his college days, a friend introduced him to Rayit was a short meeting but it eventually led to the start of his career in films. After initially getting rejected for the role of Apu, Chatterjee ultimately made his acting debut with Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (1959), which was the third part of the Apu Trilogy. He went on to star as the lead actor in 14 of Ray’s films including Charulata, Ashani Sanket, Sonar Kella, Abhijan and more.

His collaborations with leading directors including Mrinal Sen in Akash Kusum (1965), Ajoy Kar in Saat Pake Bandha (1969), Tapan Sinha in Kshudhita Pashan (1960) and Asit Sen in Swaralipi (1961) are well- known.

Outside of films he was engaged creatively in writing essays and poetry and had published nearly 30 books involving the same. He was greatly involved in Kolkata based Bengali theatre, he wrote, directed, acted in multiple plays and painted. Far from being someone who retired, Chatterjee was busier in his final years than ever and many films of his were awaiting release.

For all his popularity, the actor stayed away from Bollywood, preferring to act only in Bengali language films. But in spite of that Chatterjee had made fans around the globe with his phenomenal performances in Bengali films. Amitabh Bachchan, PM Modi, Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee and Mohanlal were among the several celebrities, politicians, sportspersons and fans who mourned the loss of the legendary actor.

(Sources: The Indian Express, BBC News, The Hindu)

Edited by: Tanya Jain, Anjali Dinesh

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