Born in 1935 Soumitra Chatterjee earned his post graduation in Bengali from University of Calcutta. He worked in All India Radio before pursuing in works. As an actor he did a small role in Bengali stage production.
Career of Soumitra Chatterjee
He made his debut in Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar (1959). He was introduced in the title role of Apu. He was cast in diverse roles by Satyajit Ray. Some of Ray's stories and screenplays are said to be written with him in mind. He worked in almost 15 films of Ray and established as an actor of class. Soumitra featured as Feluda, in the 1970s Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath. Ghare Baire, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novel was one of Ray's major ventures of the 1980s that presented Chatterjee in a negative role.
Soumitra Chatterjee's other films with the maestro Satyajit Ray include Devi (1960), Abhijan (1962), Charulata (1964), Kapurush (1965) and Aranyer Din Ratri (1969). Charulata is considered to be the greatest film. What followed after this film were Ashani Sanket (1973), Hirok Rajar Deshe (1980) and Ganashatru (1989).
Apart from Ray, Soumitra worked with other prominent film directors such as Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha. Soumitra was equally excellent in several commercial movies. For films like Akas Kusum (directed by Mrinal Sen), Soumitra Chatterjee was critically appreciated. In one of his earliest films, Jhinder Bandi, Soumitra essayed the role of a daring villain with ‚lan. Chatterjee was successful in grabbing limelight inspite being against Uttam Kumar. In Teen Bhubaner Paare, he worked with Tanuja to gather accolades for his work. He repeated his stellar performance in Shakha Proshakha. He delivered a performance in the role of a mentally handicapped son of an aging patriarch on his deathbed and the only source of his father's solace. Soumitra has also worked with Basu Chatterjee, Asit Sen, Ajoy Kar, Tarun Mazumdar.
Soumitra Chatterjee was a star after his debut movie but he was not the conventional star. Though he went ahead to star in commercial films yet he differed with his intelligent looks and multilayered acting set him apart from the rest of the crowd.
Soumitra Chatterjee also starred in films like Kino Goalar Goli, Kshudita Pashan (1960), Swaralipi (1961), Saat Pake Bandha (1963), Prathom Kadam Phool (1970), Sansar Simantey (1975), Basanta Bilap, Parineeta, Devdas, Devi and many others.
Chatterjee always co-starred with almost all the intelligent and beautiful actresses of his time like Suchitra Sen, Madhabi Mukherjee, Aparna Sen, Sumitra, Tanuja, Sharmila Tagore and many more.
Even in modern age Bengali films Soumitra Chatterjee has worked with some of the most talented new Bengali film directors. With age he gracefully opted for character roles in films like Koni (1984), Wheelchair (1994) and Sopan (1994). Gautam Ghose, Aparna Sen, Anjan Das and Rituparno Ghose are some of popular directors with whom this veteran actor has worked. He did films like Dekha (2001) and Aabar Aranaye (2003). Another notable film of Soumitra Chatterjee is Anjan Das's Saanjhbatir Roopkathara (2002). Soumitra was felicitated with National Award in the Best actor category for role in Poddokhep in 2008. His more recent movies are Angshumaner Chhobi (2009), SugarBaby (2009), Bodhisattva (2010), Hemlock Society (2012), Bela Seshe (2015), Sesh Chithi (2017), Shesher Golpo (2019), and many more.
Theatre Career of Soumitra Chatterjee
It would be wrong to restraint Soumitra Chatterjee's histrionic skills to the silver screen. He has always been a theatre personality. He had been associated with plays like Rajkumar (1982), Phera (1987), Nilkantha (1988), Ghatak Biday (1990) and Nyaymurti (1996).
Besides films Soumitra Chatterjee is actively involved with theatre. He is known for his recitation and is a known for composing poetry as well.
Awards of Soumitra Chatterjee
A legend on his own terms, Soumitra received the 'Officier des Arts et Metiers', the highest award for arts given by the French government, and a lifetime achievement award from Italy. He was awarded with honorary Padma Shree award by Indian government in the seventies. In a gesture of protest against the National Film Awards committee's bias in awarding popular and mainstream cinema, he turned down the 2001 special jury award for best actor. In 2004, he accepted the prestigious Padma Bhushan award from the President of India. He has been the subject of a full-length documentary named Gaach by French director Catherine Berge. However, on 9 June 2008; he was selected for the 2007 National Film Award for Best Actor by the Government of India.
Personal Life of Soumitra Chatterjee
Soumitra Chatterjee married Deepa in 1960 and the couple is blessed with one boy Sougata Chatterjee and one girl Poulami Bose. The legendary actor was tested Covid positive on October 2020 and was hospitalized in Kolkata. Although he recovered from Covid-19, Chatterjee’s body showed several complications which eventually led to his death on 15 November 2020.
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