Friday, March 30, 2012

A tribute to an iconic Bengali actor

It was only five days ago that I was listening in fascination as Commitscions Kaustav Datta and Atreyee Sen talked in awe about the grand old man of Tollywood, Soumitra Chatterjee.

The three of us were having lunch at Zara, the spiffy restaurant in Kolkata's South City Mall, and since both Kaustav and Atreyee are production professionals the discussion veered around to films and television shows and the stars who continue to hold fans in thrall. That was when Kaustav told us about the time he went to interview Soumitra Chatterjee for a television channel and Atreyee chipped in with an anecdote about the iconic Bengali actor with whom she got an opportunity to interact when he came to her studio for a dubbing session.

And what I do see when I open Mint today? A tribute to Soumitra Chatterjee, who received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year, by veteran columnist Salil Tripathi.

"Over the years," Tripathi writes, "Chatterjee personified the nuanced angst of the modern educated Indian, bound by traditions and accepting them while being sceptical. When tragedy strikes, he is overwhelmed, but he finds the reserves within him to rise again and faces the future with equanimity."

Tripathi also pays tribute to Bengali cinema:

If quantity equated quality, Hindi cinema would be India’s best. For provocative cinema that stays with you beyond the three hours at a theatre, we turn to films made in other Indian languages, Bengali being the most prominent.

And then he returns to Chatterjee:

In his debut film [Satyajit Ray's Apur Sansar], Chatterjee showed a range of emotions that could only come from an actor of exceptional maturity and sensibility. Ray knew how to make his expressive face reveal emotions that words couldn’t depict.

Read the column in its entirety here: "A master of his craft". And if you're not a Bengali, you will understand, as I did, why Kaustav and Atreyee think the world of Soumitra Chatterjee.