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The Reclusive Queen – Suchitra Sen

The Reclusive Queen – Suchitra Sen

Suchitra Sen

Remembering Suchitra Sen on her birth anniversary which was on 6th of April we share this story on the Mahanayika, the queen who ruled the Bengali film industry for 25 years.

By Somashis Gupta

The world of cinema fascinated me since childhood. I remember during my formative years, I saw the movies like ‘Gods Must Be Crazy’, ‘The Invisible Child’, ‘Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne’ etc. All of them were the prelude to my liking for movies which in later years was to grow further.

It was the year 1995 when I shifted to Calcutta;I was exposed to a range of world cinema. Movie makers like VittorioDeSica, IngmarBergman, FedericoFellini, StanleyKubrick, AkiraKurosawa etc. played a major role in developing my interest towards the art of films.

It was sometime in 1997 or 1998; I saw a movie called ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. I liked the movie. Later when I read about the movie I was surprised that this was a movie which was adopted from a Bengali movie called ‘Deep Jwele Jai’. I mean how many times you see an American film maker, making a movie adopting an Indian cinema.

Needless to say I had to see Deep Jwele Jai’. The movie was released in the year 1959by director Asit Sen casting Suchitra Sen, Anil Chatterjee, Pahari Sanyal etc. I was familiar with Anil Chatterjee and Pahari Sanyal from Satyajit Ray movies, but this was the first time I saw Suchitra Sen.

I must say Suchitra Sen’s phenomenal acting is world class in this movie. She played the role of Radha, a nurse who worked at a psychiatric hospital. She was asked to volunteer in a patient’s treatment by pretending to be in love with him. Sen with her extraordinary acting talent was so realistic that I almost forgot that I was watching a movie. You can see this dramatic scene from the movie-

In later years I went on to see many more of Sen’s movies. One such movie was ‘Saptapadi’ where she played the character of Rina Brown an Anglo Indian Christian, who fell in love with Krishnendu a Hindu medical student. Howevertheir religious difference acted as a hindrance to the relationship. Here too Sen acted superbly winning the hearts of audience. Check out this clip from the movie-

Another great movie worth mentioning is where Suchitra Sen played double role as Debjani the mother and Suparna the daughter. This film was awarded as the Best Feature Film in Bengali at the 11th National Film Awards. This movie was remade in Hindi as ‘Mamta’ in the year 1966. Check out this clip-

Talking of Hindi movies, who can forget the famous song by Lata and Kishore ‘Tere bina Zindegi Se Koi Shikwa’ from the movie ‘Aandhi’. Here Suchitra Sen acted as a politician named Aarti, who left her husband for her career. But after many years when they again meet each other, their romance rekindles. Why not cherish this ever green song again!

She was offered a role by the maestro Satyajit Ray for the movie ‘Devi Chaudhurani’, but due to scheduling problem she could not do the film. As a result Ray never made that movie.

In her unblemished career of 25 years Suchitra Sen acted in at least 61 films. Her first film ‘Sesh Kothay’ was released in the year 1952. She had an amazing personality and the most attractive smile.

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Besides four best actress awards from Bengal Film Journalists’ Associations, she was the second Indian actress to receive an award at an International Film Festival. She won the silver prize for Best Actress at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival. She also received the prestigious Banga Bibhushan and the Padma Shri awards.

Her last movie was ‘Pranay Pasha’ in 1978. That was the last time the world saw this great actress publicly. She retreated from all public life and shunned all forms of public contacts. Suchitra Sen refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in the year 2005 to stay out of the public eye.

17th January 2014, 8:25 AM reports came in that Suchitra Sen is no more. She was 82 when she left us. She was cremated in Keoratola crematorium with complete state honor of gun salute. The process was performed in complete privacy to honor her decision to refrain from public contact. She remained an enigma till her last, although thousands of fans had converged at the crematorium to catch one last glimpse of their idol.

I write this article remembering the Mahanayika on her birth anniversary which was on 6th of April.

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