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Suchitra Sen: The timeless beauty of Hindi and Bengali cinema

Jan 17, 2014 10:12 AM IST India India

Suchitra Sen's contribution to Hindi, Bengali cinema

Veteran actress and the iconic Bengali beauty Suchitra Sen passed away in Kolkata on Friday after reportedly suffering from a cardiac arrest.

Suchitra Sen's ethereal beauty coupled with her phenomenal screen presence and immense box office popularity made her one of the most successful heroines of Bengali and Hindi cinema between the 1950s and 70s.

The National Award winning actress of Bimal Roy's 'Devdas' was born on April 6, 1931 to Karunamoy Dasgupta and Indira Devi, in Pabna district of Bangladesh. Suchitra Sen's film debut was the unreleased 'Shesh Kothai' made in 1952. The following year saw her appear in 'Sharey Chauttar' which went on to become a big box office success and is remembered today for launching the magnificent pair of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, which went to become the iconic screen-couple of Bengali cinema for over two decades.

While her supremacy in Bengal remains unparalleled, Suchitra Sen made a breakthrough into the Hindi film industry with Bimal Roy's 'Devdas' in 1955, in which she starred opposite Dilip Kumar as Paro.

The actress delivered what went on to become her most celebrated performance in the Bengali film 'Saath Pake Bandha' in 1963 in which she played a girl who tries to overcome her domineering mother. Suchitra's finely honed performance in the film won her the Best Actress Award at the Moscow International Film Festival the same year, a first for an Indian heroine.

Despite having starred in popular hits like 'Bombay ka Babu' opposite Dev Anand and Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Musafir' in 1957, it was Gulzar's 'Aandhi' in 1975 which took the nation by storm, and earned Suchitra Sen critical acclaim. In 'Aandhi', Suchitra played a character loosely inspired by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Soon after the failure of 'Pronoy Pasha' with Soumitra Chatterjee in 1978, Suchitra Sen retired from the silver screen putting an end to a 25-year career, and more or less disappearing from the public eye. The reclusive actress, often compared to Hollywood's Greta Garbo, turned down all invitations to make public appearances, choosing to see only her daughter Moon Moon Sen, and granddaughters Raima and Riya Sen in private. The legend is even believed to have turned down the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005, preferring not to make a public appearance.

Using her gift as an artist to tell remarkable stories of love, loss and triumph, Suchitra Sen will be remembered fondly not only to the Indian Film Industry but to cinema lovers every where.