Story is set in1950s when Chowringhee was in its heyday. The plot of Chowringhee revolves around Mr. Satyasundar Bose, a receptionist, at Hotel Shahjahan. The characters that check in and out of the hotel are loosely based on real life people. The entire story is narrated by the Shankar (Subhendu Chatterjee), the writer himself. He joins Hotel Shahjahan as Satyasundar Bose or Sata Bose has submitted his notice to leave the job. This hotel is a microcosmic urban society where people with several hues are to be found. Chowringhee, once the heart of Kolkata, introduces the lifestyle of the rich and the famous.
The film Chowringhee is about people, their emotions, drawbacks, strengths, tragedies and conflicts. The characters that the narrator comes across, mostly, end up with a tragic consequence. But the one person who creates a huge impact on his mind is definitely the smart and intelligent Sata Bose (Uttam Kumar). The receptionist is the life of Hotel Shahjahan. He looks after each and every detail and it is him who Shankar is to replace. He has already submitted his resignation as he is planning to settle down with Sujata Mitra (Anjana Bhowmick), an air hostess. He met his ladylove in the hotel itself.
His presence of mind and ability to impress the guests, while guarding their secrets, has made him popular with his boss, Marco Polo (Utpal Dutt). As far as his personal life is concerned Sujata, too, has planned to resign as a married lady cannot work as an airhostess. But tragedy strikes when Sujata's plane crashes as she prepares for her last flight. Her death completely destroys Sata Bose. Shankar is equally affected by the tragedy. His respect and concern for his Bose da is apparent. Disturbed by such an incident Sata Bose moves to Africa where his ex boss, Mr. Marco Polo, has opened a new hotel. He keeps in touch with Shankar through letters.
The beauty of Chowringhee lies in the fact that it is one of those early Bengali films that narrate several stories collectively. Sata Bose is not the only character. It also involves Karabi Guha (Supriya Devi), a housekeeper at the guest house of Mr. Agarwal. She falls in love with Anindya Pakrashi (Biswajeet), son of an affluent social worker. However Mrs. Pakrashi comes to know about their relationship and humiliates Karabi asking her to leave her son on lieu of money. In the midst of a heated argument Karabi shows Mrs. Pakrasi her pictures with her boyfriends. Completely at a loss the lady agrees to the match. But Karabi suffers from a guilt conscience and takes her own life. Once again a love story ends tragically.
At the closure Chowringhee shows how the narrator has deftly taken over Sata Bose's duties and handles the guests with utmost ease. A boy from the suburbs of Kolkata, who was often surprised by the lives of these Page 3 people, is now a perfect receptionist. He has learned a lot from Sata Bose and at times misses him too.
Chowringhee showcases the exceptional performance by Uttam Kumar as the charming and courteous Sata Bose who is adept at handling almost any situation. While he keeps his guests happy there is also a sense of camaraderie as far as his fellow workers are concerned. Subhendu Chatterjee, too, plays his character to the hilt. Other Bengali actors do justice to their roles as well.
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