New Delhi: A pall of gloom descended over West Bengal and the state’s world of film, theatre, art and culture as legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee passed away on Sunday after a month-long battle with post- COVID-19 complications. He was 85. He is survived by his daughter Poulami.
“We declare with heavy heart that Shri Soumitra Chattopadhyay breathed his last at 12:15 pm at Belle Vue Clinic today. We pay our homage to his soul, ” a statement from the private hospital in Kolkata read. The iconic actor was admitted to the private hospital on October 6.
Chatterjee, who was as well known a figure in the world of theatre as in films was also known for his exemplary recitation of poetry and prose, especially of Rabindranath Tagore.
Soumitra Chatterjee made his debut in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar, and went on to performs numerous stellar roles in over six decades of is performing life, entering the hearts and souls of not just the people of Bengal but even lovers of world cinema. Among his well-known films are Charulata, Sonar Kella, Aranyer Din Ratri, Devi, Teen Kanya, Abhijan, Kapurush, Ashani Sanket, Joi Baba Felunath, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Ghare Baire, Ganashatru, Shakha Proshakha, Bhubaner Parey, Aparachita, Koni, Saat Pake Bandha, Akash Kusum, Aatanko, Belar Sheshe, Posto with directors such as Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen among others.
Chatterjee, who was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award at the 59th National Film Awards, was also a recipient of the Padma Bhushan in 2004 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998.
He won three National Film Awards for Antardhan (1991), Dekha (2000) and Podokkhep (2007). The French government honoured the actor with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Legion of Honour, according to a report in the Indian Express.
Paying tributes to the legendary actor in The Telegraph, film critic Saibal Chatterjee put in words what the actor stood for.
“He was a thinking man’s screen performer who combined deep thought and awe-inspiring creative dexterity with deceptive ease to flesh out many a memorable character that will live on as long as cinema exists. His worldwide reputation — few Indian actors can match it because it isn’t mere movie stardom that we are talking here — is obviously intertwined with that of the trailblazing Satyajit Ray.
If Ray was an imposing banyan, Soumitra was one of its sturdiest branches, which eventually spread out and grew its own roots to itself become a flowering tree that never stopped growing and blooming.”
Actor Dhritiman Chatterjee told ABP News, that the ‘real’ Soumitro Chatterjee was a sensitive and considerate human being, who was “simple, straightforward and loved ‘adda’ ( chatting with friends).
Chatterjee, according to some of his old acquaintances, was active in Left student politics and was a leading member of the cultural squad before he moved over to the world of films. A politically involved person, the veteran actor was among the 49 eminent personalities who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to end mob lynching across India in the name of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Before COVID-19 took him down, in June 2020, Soumitra Chatterjee was also among 500 eminent persons who sought release of the ailing poet Varavara Rao and others from jail amid the raging pandemic.