Rituparna Sengupta and Satyajit Ray's son remember Soumitra: He fervently celebrated the Bengali culture

Updated: 16 November, 2020 08:00 IST | Upala KBR | Mumbai

Mentor Satyajit Ray's son Sandip, and frequent collaborator Rituparna Sengupta remember Soumitra Chatterjee, who passed away yesterday

Soumitra Chatterjee as Feluda
Soumitra Chatterjee as Feluda

Rituparna Sengupta hits the nail on the head when she says Soumitra Chatterjee's presence has become a "habit". "His legacy must be celebrated because he gave his all to the film industry. While we will mourn his death, we will celebrate [his life]," says the actor who collaborated with the veteran actor on multiple occasions.

Yet another victim of COVID-19, Chatterjee breathed his last yesterday at the age of 85, following his battle against the virus. The Dadasaheb Phalke recipient thespian's death was confirmed by a bulletin from Kolkata's Belle Vue Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment. "We declare with heavy heart that Shri Soumitra Chattopadhyay breathed his last at 12.15 pm at Belle Vue Clinic today [November 15]. We pay our homage to his soul," read the hospital statement.

At an event in 2018. Pic/AFP
At an event in 2018. Pic/AFP

Mentored by auteur Satyajit Ray, the thespian will go down in history as a prominent part of the Bengali film industry. "Kaku always gave a lot of inputs, and my father gave him the liberty to do so, because he liked them. He would consistently think about his roles and mannerisms," says Ray's son, Sandip Ray, adding that following the writer-director's demise, Chatterjee would pay him a visit on his birthday.

Also Read: Soumitra Chatterjee was known for his evening addas after shoots!

"Kaku's favourite role was that of the priest Gangacharan in Ashani Sanket, and Apu from Apur Sanskar. I have a fondness for Aranyer Din Ratri and Charulata. He would become one with the character. He would write notes all over the script, and did his homework meticulously. Apart from being a poet, and a theatre personality, he also started painting, later on. He had an exceptional memory, and was gifted and learned. At the same time, he was gentle, and affectionate."

Sandip Ray and Rituparna Sengupta
Rituparna Sengupta and Sandip Ray 

Apart from being part of 14 films of Ray, Chatterjee also worked with other greats — Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar. He made his presence felt on the stage too, as actor, playwright and director.

Stand-outs in his theatre career include his rendition of Shakespeare's King Lear in Suman Mukhopadhyay's play that earned him accolades, both nationally and globally.
He also wrote over 15 plays and directed more than 30 stage productions.

Sengupta remembers him as someone who was versed with the English language, but fiercely celebrated the Bengali culture. "His world revolved around the Bengali culture, and he would read, write, and perform [plays] in the language. He was an ocean of knowledge and was versed with poems, including the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Jibananda Das."

With inputs from agencies

Prominent films

Apur Sansar

Apur Sansar
The third and final instalment of Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy marked the screen debut of Chatterjee, who offered to play the part when he was still in university. While Ray initially found him too tall to play an adolescent Apu, he was reportedly appointed later

Aparichito

Aparichito
Based on Samaresh Basu's novel, the film, featuring Chatterjee, shed light on the mental health challenges of an immature Sujit, deftly portrayed by him

Teen Bhubaner Pare

Teen Bhubaner Pare
Widely considered a turning point in his career, Ashutosh Bandyopadhyay's film saw him as a working-class individual who tries to meet societal expectations

Ashani Sanket

Ashani Sanket
Becoming the face of the collective struggle of Indian citizens in the wake of the 1943 Bengal famine, Ashanti Sanket-actor Chatterjee punched above his weight to do justice to his role

Sonar Kella

Sonar Kella
Albeit a creation of Satyajit Ray, the revered fictional private investigator Feluda became synonymous with Chatterjee. Sonar Kella gave Chatterjee an inroad into the hearts of Bengalis across ages

Mayurakshi

Mayurakshi
A fine tale exploring the relationship between a father and son, Atanu Ghosh's creation was among Chatterjee's recent works, and saw him as an aged history professor

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First Published: 16 November, 2020 07:34 IST

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