Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Soumitra Chatterjee, best known for his collaboration with veteran Bengali actor and Ada Scar-winning film director Satyajit Ray, passed away on Sunday, November 15, 1985 at the age of 85.
The detective character created by Chatterjee Ray became synonymous with ‘Feluda’. Although Feluda’s first appearance was in a series of detective books written by Ray, the master later decided to give it a celluloid format and Chatterjee starred in all the films made on Feluda on the rail.
Later, Ray began making pictures of Feluda in his books based on the figure of Chatterjee.
India’s highest award for cinema – Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner in 2012, Soumitra has acted in more than 14 films with Ray during his acting career.
Chatterjee is also the first Indian film personality with the highest award for First Actors – France R રder des Arts et des Lettres.
In 2018, thirty years after Ren રે was honored with France’s highest civilian award, the prestigious Legion of Honor, Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, also received the prestigious award as the first Indian actor.
Born in Calcutta, West Bengal, Chatterjee graduated with honors in Bengali literature in 1935 from City College, Kolkata, after which he did his MA in Bengali from Calcutta University. Thespian learned his acting skills under the chairmanship of Ahindra Chaudhary, a well-known actor-director of Bengali theater.
In addition to his films, in his more than six-decade career, Chatterjee was also known as a well-known stage actor, poet and reciter.
His physical age could not slow his mental development. With changing times and demands he kept his acting skills, his ideas and presentations perfectly dynamic.
The turning point in Chatterjee’s career came when he saw a play by theater director Sisir Bhaduri. After watching that play, the idea of becoming a professional actor came to his mind.
Ironically, Chatterjee who was known for his stunning sharp looks was not confident about his appearance in the early years!
Chatterjee entered the film world in 1959 with Reni Apur Sansar (Apu World). This was the third part of Renee’s famous Apu trilogy. She played the lead role of ‘Apu’ opposite veteran actor Sharmila Tagore.
He later starred in four Ray films, including Charulata, Abhijan, Arniyar Din Ratri, Ashani Sanket, Sonar Kela, Jai Baba Felunath, Ghar Bayre and Ganashatru.
Chatterjee also worked closely with another famous Bengali director Mrinal Sen in his film Akash Kusum.
Her best performance with Tanuja in the film ‘Teen Bhuvner Parey’ and in the rocking song ‘Jiboni Ki Pabone’ where she was seen doing twist dance steps is still considered as her best performance.
He was often compared to Bengali megastar Uttam Kumar. The two actors, who are known for their individual acting abilities, starred together in Tapan Sinha’s Zinder Bandi and the rest is history.
Chatterjee did not retire as his fan following caused him to have his shoes hung. He never let his fans down. He kept acting until the very end. His last film was Sanjavati in 2019.
Considered a living legend, the Bengali film fraternity was eager to teach its aust company about movies and acting.
He returned to stage theater in 1978 after two decades of acting in Bengali cinema. Some of his famous theaters were Khattak Bidya, Rajkumar, Fera and Tikkiki. Her performance in King Lear (based on King Lear) has received rave reviews since November 2010.
Chatterjee was an expert in reciting the poems of Bengali bird Rabindranath Tagore.
He fell ill in October 2020 and tested positive for coronavirus. He later developed a number of complications that led to his death.
With that, an era in Bengali movies came to an end.
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Also read: Soumitra Chatterjee’s health shows marginal improvement, but nonetheless critical
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