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Legendary actor Suchitra Sen, the Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema passed away at 82

Suchitra Sen1Legendary actor Suchitra Sen, known as the Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema and who gave memorable performances in classics like ‘Devdas’, ‘Aandhi’ and’ Deep Jwele Jai’, died of a heart attack. The 82-year-old star, who starred in over 60 films, is survived by her only daughter Moon Moon and grand-daughters Riya and Raima, both actors. She was being treated at the private Intensive Treatment Unit of the hospital for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was battling acute breathing difficulties.

A tribute would also be paid to Sen at Rabindra Sadan, the city’s cultural hotspot. Sen, who has been living the life of a recluse in a south Kolkata apartment for over three decades, starred in memorable Hindi films like ‘Devdas’, and ‘Aandhi’ and Bengali films like ‘Saat Paake Bandha’,’Agnipariksha’, ‘Saptapadi’ and ‘Deep Jwele Jai’.The actor formed one of the most successful screen pairings with Uttam Kumar to rule the celluloid from the ’50s to ’70s.

Suchitra Sen’s death has been condoled by many leaders including the President of India Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Narendra Modi. A gun salute was given before her cremation, as ordered by Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Suchitra Sen or later Rama Dasgupta (6 April 1931 – 17 January 2014), was an Indian actress who acted in several Bengali and few Hindi films. The movies in which she was paired opposite to Uttam Kumar became classics in the history of Bengali Cinema.

Suchitra Sen was the first Indian actress to be awarded at an international film festival, when she won the Silver Prize for Best Actress award for Saat Paake Bandha at the 1963 Moscow film festival. In 1972 she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India.[4] By late 1970s she retreated from public life and stringently shunned all forms of public contacts; for her life of strict seclusion she is often compared with Greta Garbo.In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest cinematic award in India, in order to stay away from the public eye. In 2012, she was conferred the West Bengal government’s highest honor Banga Bibhushan.

Personal life and education

Suchitra Sen was born in Pabna in present day Pabna District of Bangladesh, on 6 April 1931.Her father Late Karunamoy Dasgupta was the headmaster of the local school and her mother Indira Devi was a homemaker. She was their fifth child and third daughter. She had her formal education in Pabna.

Suchitra Sen married Dibanath Sen, son of a wealthy Bengali industrialist, Adinath Sen in 1947and had one daughter, Moon Moon Sen, who is a former actress.

Suchitra Sen made a successful entry after marriage into Bengali films in 1952 and then a less successful transition to the Bollywood film industry. According to some unconfirmed but persistent reports in the Bengali press, her marriage was severely strained by her success in the film industry.


Suchitra Sen made her debut in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but it was never released.The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor, a film by Nirmal Dey. It was a box-office hit and is remembered for launching Uttam-Suchitra as a leading pair. They went on to become the icons for Bengali dramas for more than 20 years, becoming almost a genre to themselves.

Suchitra Sen received a Best Actress Award for the film Devdas (1955), which was her first Hindi movie. Her Bengali melodramas and romances, especially with Uttam Kumar, made her the most famous Bengali actress ever. Her films ran through the 1960s and the 1970s. Her husband died, but she continued to act in films, such as the Hindi hit Aandhi (1974), where she played a politician. Aandhi was inspired by India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sen received a Filmfare Award nomination as Best Actress, while Sanjeev Kumar, who essayed the role of her husband, won the Filmfare as Best Actor.

One of Suchitra Sen’s best known performances was in Deep Jwele Jaai (1959). She played Radha, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, who is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved Oedipal dilemma. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury’s violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love again. In the end, even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is noted for its partly lit, close ups of Sen which set the tone of the film. Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969) with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role.

Suchitra Sen’s other landmark film with Asit Sen was Uttar Falguni (1963). She plays the dual role of a courtesan Pannabai and her daughter Suparna, a lawyer. Critics note that she brought a great deal of poise, grace and dignity in the role of a fallen woman determined to see her daughter grow up in a good, clean environment.

Suchitra Sen’s international success came in 1963, when she won the best actress award in Moscow Film Festival for the movie Saat Paake Bandha, becoming the first Indian female actress to receive an international film award.

A film critic summed up Suchitra Sen’s career and continuing legacy as “one half of one of Indian cinema’s most popular and abiding screen pairs, Suchitra Sen redefined stardom in a way that few actors have done, combining understated sensuality, feminine charm and emotive force and a no-nonsense gravitas to carve out a persona that has never been matched, let alone surpassed in Indian cinema”.

In retirement

Suchitra Sen refused Satyajit Ray’s offer due to date problem; as a result Ray never made the film Devi Chaudhurani. She also refused Raj Kapoor’s offer for a film under the RK banner. She retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion. She assiduously avoided the public gaze after her retirement and had devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission. Suchitra Sen was a contender for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2005, provided she was ready to accept it in person. Her refusal to go to New Delhi and personally receive the award from the President of India deprived her of that award.

Source : Wikipedia

Courtesy : Deccan Chronicle

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