When I was studying in a Kolkata college many decades back, I came to know him personally. I used to visit his then-residence in south Kolkata.
I can say it today, that I was in awe of him… Not because he was an actor par excellence, but it was his ‘towering’ personality.
Apu… Feluda… When you think of the characters, the face you associate is that of Soumitra Chatterjee…
Yet, he was humble; he was friendly to us youngsters who would rehearse plays and songs in one of the rooms in his apartment. He would never advise or intrude in our sessions till we sought it.
And when he did, he appeared to be one of us – not the hugely popular actor whose face adorned several marquees and theatre-hall facades.
What did I call him? Uncle… dada… sir…? Well, I never did find the appropriate word with which I could address him.
And what did I talk about to a person who knew so much about so many things? Well, most of the time that he was around when I visited his house, I would be quiet!
I was particularly touched when one late night, when he personally drove the Ambassador car he owned then, and dropped our friends (all college-students then)
Soumitra Chatterjee was born on January 19, 1935 in Kolkata. He was the first Indian film actor to be bestowed with France’s highest award for artists – the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
He has worked in over a dozen Satyajit Ray movies.
In 2012, he was awarded India’s highest award for cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement. He has won two National Film Awards as a cinema actor, and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998 as an actor in Bengali theatre.
In 2014, he won Filmfare Awards East for Best Male Actor (Critics) for his role in Rupkatha Noy. In all, he won seven Filmfare Awards.
In 2006 he won the National Film Award for Best Actor for the film ‘Podokkhep’.
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2004.
On 6th October 2020, he was tested COVID-19 positive. After a fight that went on for over a month he finally has left us…
I still do not know how to address him in remembrance.
It could be like “The King is dead Long live the king “