Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee, best known internationally for his long association with Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray, died in Kolkata on Sunday after contracting coronavirus. He was 85 years old.
Chatterjee was born in Calcutta in 1935. During his university studies he developed an interest in the theater and was then mentored by Sisir Bhaduri, a dean in the field. He pursued an acting career in film while working as a host with All India Radio.
Chatterjee’s first film, “The World of Apu” (1959), was the third part of Ray’s famous Apu trilogy which began with Cannes winner “Pather Panchali” in 1955 and continued with Venice winner “Aparajito” in 1956. The film began. a successful association with Ray over the years which included “The Goddess” (1960), “Three Girls” (1961), “The Expedition” (1962), “Charulata” (1964), “Days and Nights in the Forest “(1970),” Distant Thunder “(1973),” The Golden Fortress “(1974),” The Elephant God “(1979),” The Home and the World “(1984) and” Branches of the Tree “(1990 ).
Chatterjee has also worked with the other greats of Bengali cinema, notably with Tapan Sinha on “Kshudhita Pashan” (1960) and “Jhinder Bandi (1961) and Mrinal Sen on” Akash Kusum “(1965). At the same time, Chatterjee starred in popular Bengali cinema, giving a career total of over 300 films.
At the time of his death, he had 10 photos ready to be released. The actor also continued his association with the theater until the end.
Internationally, in addition to his work Ray which has been seen around the world, Chatterjee has appeared in “The Bengali Night” by Nicolas Klotz (1988) and “Shadows of Time” by Florian Gallenberger (2004). Catherine Berge made a documentary on Chatterjee called “The Tree” (1998).
Chatterjee won Leading Actor at the National Awards of India for Suman Ghosh’s “Podokkhep” (2006), Asia-Pacific Film Festival Supporting Actor for Atanu Ghosh’s “Angshumaner Chhobi” (2009) and actor at the New York Winter Film Awards for Amit Ranjan Biswas’ “Bridge” (2016).
In 2012, he received India’s highest cinematographic distinction, the Dadasaheb Phalke Prize, and in 2018, the French government awarded him its highest civilian honor, the Legion of Honor.
“The death of Shri Soumitra Chatterjee is a colossal loss for the world of cinema, the cultural life of West Bengal and India. Through his works, he has come to embody Bengali sensibilities, emotions and ethos. Anguished by his disappearance. Condolences to his family and his admirers. Om Shanti, ” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
“Soumitra Chatterjee is an ‘idea’ that is slowly fading among us. The all-encompassing character of a Renaissance man, “said Suman Ghosh, who directed Chatterjee in” Podokkhep “to Variety. “He had an intensely exploratory spirit who wanted to investigate and explore many facets of life, which were revealed through his writings, his poetry, his theater and of course the cinema. I hope he will be remembered beyond just being an internationally renowned actor.
“Soumitra was not just an actor, he was an artist of life, a creative dynamo, a timeless banyan tree in the cultural stratosphere of India, the last of the Mohicans,” said Amit Ranjan Biswas, who directed Chatterjee in “Bridge”. Variety. “When I spoke to her last time in January, I asked her, ‘What do you represent? Without hesitation, he replied: “Love”. May he rest in love and abundance. ”