Joy Mukherjeewrote on Aug 11 2008 7:11PM
Soumitra Chatterjee is one the most internationally acknowledged actors in the arena of Bengali Cinema due to his numerous works with Satyajit Ray. Born on 19th January 1935 in Kolkata , he has received his early education from C.M.M. St John School in Krishnonagar. Due to his father’s (Mohit Kumar Chattopadhay)transferable job, young Soumitra had to change his school several times. Later, he joined Barasat Government high School , from where he has to take transfer to Howrah Government School. He even had to study few years at Darjeeling High School. But he completed his matriculation from Howrah High School. After this, he joined the well known City College in Kolkata and completed his graduation in Bengali Honours. Although he had joined Calcutta University for M.A. but he was unable to appear for the exam.
In the early days of his life, he used to work as a Radio announcer. In 1960, he got married. Satyajit Ray’s Assistant Nityananda Dutta was a close friend of Soumitra who introduced him to Satyajit Ray for the film “Aparajito”. As the role was not suitable for his age, Soumitra didn’t got chance to act in that film. Later in 1957, Satyajit Ray had given him the first break in his much acclaimed movie “Apur Sansar”(final film of Apu Trilogy) and Soumitra was given the lead roles. His exceptional performances gave him a special place in the film industry. Moreover, he had potrayed the character of Feluda in Satyajit Ray’s thrillers in Sonar Kella (1974), Joy Baba Felunath (1979). He had also worked with noted directors like Mrinal Sen in Akas Kusum, Pratinidhi, Tapan Sinha in Jhinder Bandi, Khudita Pasan, Tarun Majumder in Ganadevota (1979). He has participated in Berlin Film Festival for his performance in Charulata. He has also traveled worldwide for his play “Tiktiki”. Other than films, he was associated with theatre. He had the extraordinary fortune to be trained under the legendary stage personalities like Sisir Kumar Bhaduri and his performance as Suresh in “Prafulla” was still considered to be a landmark in his career. He is a well known figure in the world of Bengali poetry recitation and has lent his voice for many documentaries. He is truly a versatile genius who has books of poems in his credit. Even, he has directed many theatres, plays and one telefilm.
In 1970 and 1972 , he was awarded the coveted Padmashri but he renounced it both times. He has been felicitated by several institutions for his contribution to Bengali Cinema. Soumitra has also received 'The Officier des Arts et Metiers' from France. Recently, the title “PadmaBhusan “ has been conferred to him by the Government of India. In 1995 , he got the Lifetime Achievement award from FilmFare. In 2008, he was given National Award for best actor for his performance in Padakhep.