ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Tribute

​Soumitra Chatterjee (1935–2020)

A tribute to actor Soumitra Chatterjee who died of COVID-19 complications.

Soumitra Chatterjee passed away earlier this month, in the year approaching the birth centenary of his mentor, Satyajit Ray (1921–1992). Nearing 86, he had been busy with shooting and other engagements when he developed symptoms of COVID-19 and was hospitalised, never to return. Understandably, his death has been widely mourned in Kolkata where countless admirers, defying pandemic restrictions, came out on the streets to bid a tearful farewell. His passing also made global news—on a scale rather unprecedented—reflecting the esteem in which he is held as an actor. Chatterjee had worked all his life within the Bengali milieu and was yet acclaimed internationally. Is this entirely owing to his sustained involvement with the films of Satyajit Ray? Or, is there something more to his creative persona that made him so unique?

Chatterjee acted as the hero, or in a leading character role, in 14 of Ray’s 28 full-length feature films, and in one documentary. Noted film critic Pauline Kael described him as “Ray’s one-man stock company,” and there have been endless references to their fruitful collaboration, often likened to that between Toshiro Mifune and Akira Kurosawa, Marcello Mastroianni and Federico Fellini, Max von Sydow and Ingmar Bergman, and even Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. But the Ray–Chatterjee equation was of a different dimension altogether. In Ray’s own words, “I do know that to the last day of my artist’s life, my dependence on him will remain intact.”

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Updated On : 1st Dec, 2020

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