End of an era: Bollywood mourns passing away of Soumitra Chatterjee


Legend of Bengali cinema played ‘Apu’ and ‘Feluda’ in Satyajit Ray films

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Legendary Bengali actor and Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Soumitra Chatterjee, known for his collaborations with Oscar-winning film director Satyajit Ray, passed away in Kolkata, at the age of 85, on Sunday.

Chatterjee became synonymous with the detective character ‘Feluda’ created by Ray. Though Feluda’s first appearance was in a series of detective books written by Ray, later the maestro decided to give it a celluloid format and Chatterjee played the lead role in all the movies made by Ray on Feluda. Later on, Ray started making illustrations of Feluda in his books based on Chatterjee’s figure.

A winner of India’s highest award for cinema — Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2012, Soumitra during his acting career had worked with Ray in more than 14 movies. Chatterjee is also the first Indian film personality conferred with France’s highest award for artists — the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Born in Calcutta, West Bengal, in the year 1935, Chatterjee graduated from the City College, Kolkata with honours in Bengali literature, post which he did an M.A. in Bengali from the University of Calcutta. The thespian learnt his acting skills under noted actor-director of Bengali theatre Ahindra Choudhury.

Apart from his movies, in his over six decades-long career, Chatterjee was also known as a noted stage actor, poet and reciter.

Chatterjee debuted in the film world with Ray’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) in 1959. This was the third part of Ray’s famous Apu trilogy. He played the lead role of ‘Apu’ opposite veteran actor Sharmila Tagore. Later he acted in 14 Ray movies including Charulata, Abhijan, Aranyer Din Ratri, Ashani Sanket, Sonar Kella, Jai Baba Felunath, Ghare Baire and Ganashatru.

He fell sick in October 2020 and tested coronavirus positive. Later it developed into multiple complications, which led to his demise. With him, an era in Bengali movies came to an end.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Sunday condoled the demise of late legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee and termed him “an iconic legend”.

The superstar dug out an old picture of himself with the departed actor and posted it on Twitter along with a short note. “Soumitra Chatterjee .. an iconic legend .. one of the mightiest pillars of the Film Industry, .. has fallen .. a gentle soul and abundant talent .. last met him at the IFFI in Kolkata .. Prayers,” Bachchan wrote on Twitter.

Veteran actor Anupam Kher on Sunday expressed grief over the death of “one of his favourite” actor Soumitra Chatterjee. The ‘Hotel Mumbai’ star took to Twitter and shared some pictures of the late Dada Saheb Phalke awardee actor as a tribute to him, stating that he has learnt so much from his amazingly rich talent and craft.

“Deeply saddened to know about the demise of legendary actor and one of my favourite #SoumitraChatterjee,” wrote Kher. “I Learnt so much from his amazingly rich talent and craft. Om Shanti!!,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Bollywood actors including Anil Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Raj Babbar, Randeep Hooda among many others expressed grief over the demise of Chatterjee.

Conveying his condolences to the family of the late actor on Twitter, actor Anil Kapoor called him “a legend and an inspiration”. Paresh Rawal too paid an emotional tribute to Chatterjee and tweeted, “Soumitra Chatterji. An self-effacing actor. Om Shanti.”

By sharing a picture of the iconic duo- filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Chatterjee, veteran actor Raj Babbar wrote on Twitter in Hindi: “Soumitra Chatterjee was a veteran actor who has passed away today. He started his acting journey from Satyajit Roy’s ‘Apur Sansar’ and an award like Dada Saheb Phalke Award is the example of his acting skills and his ease while delivering them. While performing the characters, he used to forget everything. Saumitra da, will miss you very much.”

Richa Chadha also mourned Chatterjee’s passing away and shared an old photo of him with his frequent collaborator Satyajit Ray. Reacting to the news, Manoj Bajpayee tweeted, “Tragic loss!! Rest in peace Sir!! Your contribution to the Indian Cinema will always be remembered and inspire the generations to come !!”

Rahul Bose also shared a throwback pic with Chatterjee on Instagram and wrote a long note. His note read, “There was a time when I went on a #SatyajitRay films watching spree and Soumitrada was in most of them. So working with him in #15ParkAvenue felt surreal. Needless to say I incessantly asked questions about cinema, Ray, his working style etc. He answered everything with generosity and warmth. Rest in peace, Soumitrada. #SoumitraChatterjee (Obviously that’s @konkona in the image too. Probably from one of the post release functions of 15Park).”

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