His powerful performance as Sri Gouranga in the play Nader Nimai made Chhabi Biswas popular amongst the theatre lovers. He then took a break and busied himself with a job. It was however impossible for Chhabi Biswas to stay away from theatre for long. He rejoined the theatre circuit and made his debut as a professional actor in a social-melodrama Samaj. Even after establishing himself as the film actor he continued to be a part of theatre. He performed in hit plays like Shoroshi (1940), Sita (1940), Kedar Roy (1941), Shahjehan (1941) and others.
In 1936, Chhabi Biswas made his debut in the Bengali films with Annapurnar Mandir. The film was directed by Tinkari Chakraborty and Chhabi Biswas enacted the role of Bishu, the husband of the heroine. Chhabi Biswas appeared as the 90-year-old ascetic in Debaki Bose's film Nartaki (1940). After this film the offers that he got were primarily for a character actor. Soon Chhabi Biswas became the final choice for the patriarchs and suave nobles. Films such as Ashok (1942), Parineeta (1942), Dwanda (1943), Matir Ghar (1944), Dui Purush (1945), Biraj Bou (1946) and Mandana (1950) showcased his talents as an actor of great quality.
At the peak of his career Chhabi Biswas directed two Bengali films, Pratikar (1949) and Jaar Jetha Ghar (1949). Both the films were produced by New Theatres and did pretty well at the box-office. However it was Tapan Sinha's screen adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's short story Kabuliwala that gave Chhabi Biswas a golden opportunity to exploit his histrionic abilities. As Rehmat Khan, Chhabi Biswas delivered one of his most memorable performances. In 1956 he once again delighted his audiences with his performance in Dadathakur which is a biography of Sarat Pandit, the renowned satirist, scholar and social reformer. He was so real that even Sarat Pandit appreciated him for the role.
Another Bengali film that immortalized Chhabi Biswas on screen was Jalsaghar (1958) directed by Satyajit Ray. As Biswambhar Ray, the music-loving feudal landlord doomed to a lonely and tragic end, was amazingly portrayed by Ray. He once again teamed up with Ray to deliver a superb performance in Devi. Here he was a spiritual man who strongly believed that his young daughter-in-law was an incarnation of the goddess. In Ray's Kanchanjungha (1962) he played the role of Rai Bahadur Indranath Chowdhury. He was a dominant father who commanded over his aristocratic family.
Chhabi Biswas died in a car accident on 11th June, 1962. Chhabi Biswas was felicitated with the Sangeet Natak Academy Award for the best actor in 1959.
(Last Updated on : 06-08-2014)
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