Bhanu Bandyopadhyay: The greatest comedian of all times in Bengali cinema

The greatest comedian ever in Bengali cinema

Rahul Sengupta15 Aug 2011

Rahul Sengupta talks about the all time great Bengali comedian Bhanu Bandyopadhyay (aka Bhanu Banerjee) carving a unique place in Bengali film industry (Tollywood) and theater with his great performances and comic timing. Bhanu Banerjee comedy is etched forever in the memories of Bengalis.

Ahindra Chowdhury used to address Bhanu Bandyopadhyay as “Master Moshai-er chhele”(Sir′s Son). Actually the maestro Sisir Kumar Bhaduri used to be a student in the childhood days of Mr. Jitendranath Bandyopadhyay (Bhanu′s father). Bhanu was born on the 26th of August, 1920. His real name was Samyamoy, but his nick name “Bhanu” made him universally popular.

Bhanu Banerjee with Uttam Kumar on the set of Shakher Chor; with Meena Kumari at the set of Bandish; with Sabitri Chatterjee and Bikash RoyBhanu Banerjee with Uttam Kumar on the set of Shakher Chor; with Meena Kumari at the set of Bandish; with Sabitri Chatterjee and Bikash Roy [more rare photos of Bhanu Bandyopadhay ]

Bhanu′s mother Suniti Debi was the daughter of Mr. Jogendranath Chattyaraj. Sarijini Naidu′s father Aghornath and Jogendranath were cousins. Bhanu impressed everyone by his acting prowess in the Dhaka Wari club produced play “Banabir” which was directed by Amal Dasgupta. He depicted the role of “Uday Singha”. Bhanu was a student of sixth standard during that time. He passed intermediate from Dhaka′s Jagannath Intermediate College, in the year 1938. Bhanu had to leave Dhaka while he was studying at the Dhaka University due to political situation. He came to Kolkata & resided at his elder sister′s place at Charu Avenue. The year was 1941. The humorous & intelligent Bhanu became a popular face in the locality within a brief span of time. Meanwhile he clinched a job in the Iron & Steel Control Department of India. He married the talented singer Nilima in the year 1946. During this time he gave a stellar performance in the play “Chandragupta”. The role of Chandragupta was given to renowned author Hari Narayan Chattopadhyay. Bhanu depicted the character of “Chanakya”. After watching his performance Dr. Bhujanga Bandyopadhyay took Bhanu to Pramathesh Barua′s assistant Bibhuti Chakraborty. Mr Chakraborty himself was directing a feature film during that time. He gave Bhanu an opportunity of acting in a brief role in his film “Jagaran”. Meanwhile Bhanu also got the chance of acting in the film “Ja Hoye Naa” & it released in 1949. This was his debut venture & the audience saw him on screen for the maiden instance.

At this juncture, Girish Parishad Staged Girish Ghosh′s play “Sirajudaullah”. The play was directed & produced by Bimal Roy. Bhanu & Dulal Guha (who later became a famous director in Bombay) both were included primarily as extras, but later performed in the play. After evaluating Bhanu′s performance, Bimal Roy took him for his next feature film, “Tathapi”. The character was of a mute man. Bhanu excelled in the characters & sensuously depicted how a man expressed his anguishes & emotions, overcoming speech impairment. The brilliant & magnificent director Ritwik Kumar Ghatak was Bhanu′s co actor in this film. After giving a thumping performance in Tathapi”, Bhanu was roped in for Nirmal Dey′s film, “Basu Paribar”. He simultaneously got the chance of acting in the film, “Pasher Bari” Basu Paribar” cemented his place in the history of Bengali Cinema & the name Bhanu became a cult, respected & loved name amongst every film loving individual.

Bhanu Banerjee with Jahar Roy and Ajit ChatterjeeBhanu Banerjee with Jahar Roy and Ajit Chatterjee [more rare photos of Bhanu Bandyopadhay ]

The great Chhabi Biswas once made an attempt of creating a theatre group. He created the group and Bhanu Bandyopadhyay acted in the play “Mantra Shakti”. This play made him turn to a timeless magician weaving the nuances of the school of acting according to his will. At the apex of stardom, Bhanu Bandyopadhyay regularly participated in Rangmahal Theatre′s production “Adarsha Hindu Hotel”. In the year 1953 he joined star Theatre for acting in the play “Shyamali”. He also performed in Jatras. Bhanu Bandyopadhyay gave outstanding & blistering performances in films like Jomalaye Jibonto Manush”, “Personal Assistant”, “Nirdharita Shilpir Anupasthitite”, “Bhanu Pelo Lottery′, “Bhanu Goyenda Jahar Assistant”, “Pathe Holo Dekha”, “Sare Chuattor”, “Saheb Bibi Golam” and many more. He performed in numerous films.

He produced a film named “Kanchanmulya” and ultimately he established a popular Jatra company called “Sushil Natya Company” & received accolades & approval of the Bengali audience. He gave continuous stage performance to earn unbridled popularity from audiences of all ages, temperaments & characters. “Gopal Bhar” was a blockbuster production from Sushil Natya Company. Another stupendous performance came with the play “Jai Maa Kali Boarding” which he himself directed with remarkable efficiency at the Rangana Theatre. He gave another hilarious performance in the film, “Miss Priyambada”, where he simultaneously played the characters of a man & woman. The man was unputdownable in plays conducted over the radio & brilliant in creating satirical jokes with a political tinge.

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Mr. Rahul Sengupta deserves kudos for his meticulous account on this legendary actor. It is the name " Bhanu" used as the titles of many a film, which is a rare / unconventional evidence in the annals of Indian film suggesting bold draw of a character actor, specially comedian. Unfortunately, many of his films have been spoiled due to lack of preservation.
Posted by Dipen on  Aug 23 2011 1:54PM

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