One of the greatest actors of twentieth century cinema, and a cultural icon par excellence, Soumitra Chatterjee had set new parameters for Indian cinema with his fine acting chops, brilliant screen presence.
The veteran actor though passed away last November 2020, his awe-inspiring body of work shall remain unfazed, much-cherished, and like his film- ‘Aparajito’ or undefeated.
He would have turned 86 years today, had the doyen of silver screen lived on.
Chatterjee was the quintessential Bengali hero, who breathed freshness, credibility in every character. Be it comedy, romance, adventure- his diverse acting prowess was something to marvel at.
He was the ideal example of forever, classic, ‘bhodrolok’-gentleman radiating a very down to earth, simple, high thinking Bengali intelligentsia. Chatterjee's acting range is laudible as his chemistry with co-actors. Winner of Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Legion of Honour (highest civilian award in France), Soumitra had acted with equal grace and aplomb in Ray’s films as well as non-Ray movies.
As we fondly remember him on his birthday, let us take a look at five memorable movies of the maestro- Soumitra Chatterjee.
His endearing charisma, conviction imparted rare innocence to this Ray film. The interplay of love, longing, pathos portrayed so lovingly by Sharmila-Soumitra led to some of the finest cinematic moments; that are permanently etched in our minds. The tenderness in the film was beautifully captured by the actor under Ray’s guidance. Chatterjee followed Stanislavski method while essaying the role, and the rest is history.
Soumitra breathed life into the nuanced, cerebral fictional sleuth character, through his ever so articulate facial expressions. The enchanting Rajasthan locales, Chatterjee's disarming presence garnered immense popularity. Feluda fans grew in number ranging from teens to grandparents. Even, 'Joy Baba Felunath’, is fondly remembered.
Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel ‘Ghare Baire’ (The Home and the World), this was yet another gem from the Ray- Soumitra pair, beside ‘Charulata’. The auteur brought out one of the best performances of Chatterjee portraying the role of 'Sandip' -the fiery, revolutionary hero apparently fighting for freedom. With Soumitra Chatterjee on screen, the character’s mannerisms, dialogues always felt absolutely seamless and lucid. His effortless smartness, body language, gazes elevated the performance.
The handsome actor paired opposite Aparna Sen, had delivered one of the most unforgettable, brilliant performances in this hilarious, comedy film. Supported by an amazingly talented cast of Robi Ghosh, Anup Kumar, Chinmay- this film is testimony to Chatterjee’s versatility.
Tin Bhuvaner Pare
Who can forget the groovy, foot-tapping ‘k Tumi Nandini’ from the movie Tin Bhuvaner Pare! Portraying the role of young, vivacious, carefree street romeo, Chatterjee was one of the most sought after heros of the golden era of Bengali cinema. Known for the lovely storyline, rich performances, beautiful songs by Manna Dey, the movie was a tremendous hit at that time. It continues to be a popular, classic starring Tanuja and Soumitra; that has a special place in the hearts of audience.