Soumitra Chatterjee: A Legend, On and Off Screen

Soumitra Chatterjee: Looking back at the life and works of the legendary actor.

2 min read
“If I stop acting, I won’t exist.”
Soumitra Chatterjee

Born on 19 January 1935, Soumitra Chatterjee did his MA in Bengali Literature from Calcutta University. Chatterjee resolved to become an actor after watching a play in college by theatre doyen Sisir Bhaduri.
While actively pursuing a future in movies, Chatterjee started his career with All India Radio as an announcer.

Soumitra Chatterjee’s attempt at bagging a role in Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito did not work out as he was deemed ‘too old’ for the part of Apu. At the age of 20, he failed a screen test for a film titled Nilachale Mahaprabhu.

But fate smiled when, after the success of Aparajito, Satyajit Ray offered Soumitra the third part of the Pather Panchali trilogy, Apur Sansar. There was no looking back after that.

Soumitra Chatterjee and Satyajit Raj went on to gift us gems of Bengali cinema - the Feluda series, Charulata, Aranyer Din Ratri, Devi, Ghare Baire and Ganasatru to name a few.

Apart from Ray, Soumitra Chatterjee also collaborated with legendary filmmakers Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.

The 70s saw Soumitra Chatterjee flourish as a theatre personality, and the veteran actor sustained his love for the stage till the end.


Soumitra Chatterjee had an equally magnetic presence outside the film world too. The veteran actor stood in solidarity with factory workers and was also a part of street agitations against the Mamata Banerjee government.

He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2004 and was also a recipient of three National Awards. In 2012, Soumitra Chatterjee received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.

He was also conferred with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest award for artistes.

Soumitra Chatterjee has left behind a rich legacy that will always be cherished. His unfortunate demise marks the end of an era. Rest in peace, Soumitrada. You will be deeply missed.

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