Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee breathed his last in a Kolkata hospital on Sunday. He was admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19 on October 6. Chatterjee had been struggling with COVID-19 complications for the last 40 days and the actor had been ‘critical’ for a while. The Dada Saheb Phalke awardee had tested negative for the coronavirus infection on October 14 after which he was shifted to a non-COVID ITU. But, his health and ne neurological condition kept deteriorating. A special team of doctors tried to improve his health condition by performing dialysis, putting him on a ventilator, and even conducting a tracheotomy. Before the recent hospitalisation, in the last two-and-a-half months, the actor was shooting for a biopic and a documentary titled ‘Abhijan’, directed by actor Parambrata Chattopadhyay.
Chatterjee is known for portraying the protagonist in many acclaimed films of maestro Satyajit Ray. He had made his film debut in ‘Apur Sansar’, the last of the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray. He went to become the favourite of the maestro who cast him in 14 films and won critical global acclaim. He began his career in the late 1950 under the tutelage of the legendary Sisir Bhaduri. Other movies included “Akash Kusum” with Mrinal Sen and co-star Aparna Sen, “Jhinder Bandi” with Tapan Sinha, “Ganadevata” with Tarun Majumdar and as Amal in the classic “Charulata” in 1964 with an iconic performance by co-star Madhavi Chatterjee. He acted in more than 210 films in his career. He also received critical acclaim for his directorial debut Stree Ki Patra (1986) which was based on the Bengali short story Streer Patra by Rabindranath Tagore. He has often said that theatre was his first love. But he brought the screen alive with his first film “Apur Sansar” followed by “Teen Kanya” and “Abhijan” (all Satyajit Ray films). He was awarded Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, and won three National Film Awards. The late actor is the first Indian film personality to be conferred with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest civilian award. In 2013, IBN Live named him as one of “The men who changed the face of the Indian Cinema”. He was 85 and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.