Soumitra Chatterjee

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Soumitra Chatterjee
Soumitra Chatterjee - Kolkata 2011-05-09 2856.JPG
Soumitra Chatterjee inaugrating a Puja at Behala in 2013
Born (1935-01-19) 19 January 1935 (age 79)
Krishnanagar, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in West Bengal, India)
Occupation Actor, Recitor, Poet

Soumitra Chatterjee or Soumitra Chattopadhyay (Shoumitro Chôṭṭopaddhae; born 19 January 1935) is an iconic Bengali film and stage actor and a poet from India, known among other things for his frequent collaborations with the great Bengali film director Satyajit Ray and his constant comparison with the Bengali screen idol Uttam Kumar.


Soumitra was born in Krishnanagar in West Bengal, 100 km from Calcutta, in 1935. Soumitra and his family moved to Howrah and Calcutta during his early years. Soumitra graduated from the City College, Kolkata with honours in Bengali literature, as a graduating student of the University of Calcutta. He has lived for a number of years in Calcutta in Satyajit Ray's old apartment. He studied for his M.A. in Bengali from the University of Calcutta. He worked in All India Radio before pursuing a career in films.

Work with Satyajit Ray[edit]

Even before his film career, budding poet Soumitra had approached Satyajit Ray to suggest a name, and illustrate the cover page for a little magazine which was edited by Soumitra. Satyajit Ray had named the magazine Ekhon (Now), and illustrated the cover pages regularly even after Soumitra had stopped editing the magazine.

Soumitra's film debut came in 1959 in Satyajit Ray's The World of Apu. As noted on the official website for Ray, "At that time, Soumitra Chatterjee was a radio announcer and had only played a small role in a Bengali stage production."[1] Soumitra would eventually collaborate with Ray on fourteen films. His centrality to Ray's work is akin to other key collaborations in the history of cinema — Mifune and Kurosawa, Mastroianni and Fellini, De Niro and Scorsese, DiCaprio and Scorsese, Max von Sydow and Ingmar Bergman, Jerzy Stuhr and Kieślowski. He also worked with Sharmila Tagore in a number of Ray films.

Chatterjee was cast in diverse roles by Ray and some of the stories and screenplays that Ray wrote were said to be written with him in mind. Soumitra featured as Feluda/Pradosh Chandra Mitter, the famous private investigator from Calcutta in Ray's Feluda series of books, in two films in the 1970s Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath. Ghare Baire, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novel of the same name and one of Ray's major ventures of the 1980s, featured Chatterjee in a leading role in the character of a radical revolutionary in a love triangle with his friend's wife. These roles showcased Chatterjee's versatility in playing diverse characters, especially in an urban setting. In Shakha Proshakha, Chatterjee turns out a moving performance in the role of a mentally handicapped son of an aging patriarch on his deathbed and the only source of his father's solace, as his siblings squabble.

Other works[edit]

Besides working with Ray, Soumitra excelled in collaborations with other well-known Bengali directors such as Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha. He earned critical acclaim for his role of an impostor in Mrinal Sen's Akash Kusum. He was equally confident in playing the swashbuckling horse-riding villain in Sinha's Jhinder Bandi giving the legendary Uttam Kumar a tough challenge. In Teen Bhubaner Pare, he again shared the screen with the beautiful Tanuja, and his flamboyant and peppy way of romance.

Since November 2010, he has been regularly performing in the title role of the play Raja Lear directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay, a play based on King Lear by William Shakespeare. Soumitra has received widespread critical and popular accolades for his acting in the play.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

A living legend on his own terms, Soumitra has received the 'Officier des Arts et Metiers', the highest award for arts given by the French government, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Italy. He turned down the honorary Padma Shri award from the Indian government in the 1970s; in 2004, he accepted the prestigious Padma Bhushan award from the President of India. He has been the subject of a full-length documentary named Gaach by French film director Catherine Berge.

In a gesture of protest against the National Film Awards committee's bias in awarding popular and mainstream cinema, he turned down the 2001 Special Jury Award for Best Actor. However, on 9 June 2008, he was awarded the 2007 National Film Award for Best Actor by the Government of India. On 3 May 2012, he was selected by the Government of India to be honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema given annually by the Government of India for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema.

In 2014, he received the introductory Filmfare Awards East for Best Male Actor (Critics) for his role in Rupkatha Noy.

Select filmography[edit]

Soumitra Chatterjee in the movie Kapurush.

For a more detailed list, see Soumitra Chatterjee filmography.

Year Film Role Other notes
1959 The World of Apu Apurba Kumar Ray (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1960 Devi Umaprasad (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1960 Khudito Pashan (dir. Tapan Sinha)
1961 Teen Kanya Amulya (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1961 Jhinder Bondi Mayurbahan (dir. Tapan Sinha)
1961 Punascha (dir. Mrinal Sen)
1961 Swaymbara (dir. Asit Sen)
1961 Swralipi (dir. Asit Sen)
1962 Abhijan Narsingh (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1962 Agun (dir. Asit Sen)
1962 Atal Jwaler Ahobhan (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1962 Benarasi (dir. Arup Guhathakurta)
1962 Shaasti (dir. Daya Bhai)
1963 Barnali (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1963 Saat Paake Badha Professor Sukhendu Dutta (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1963 Sesh Prahar (dir. Prantik)
1964 Charulata Amal (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1964 Kinu Goalar Goli (dir. O.C.Ganguly)
1964 Pratinidhi Amal (dir. Mrinal Sen)
1965 Kapurush Amitabha Roy (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1965 Akash Kusum Ajay Sarkar (dir. Mrinal Sen)
1965 Bakso Badal Dr.Pratul Bhattacharjee (dir. Nityananda Dutta)
1965 Ek i ange eto rup (dir. Harisadhan Dasgupta)
1965 Ektuku Basa (dir. Tarun Majumdar)
1966 Joradighir Chaudhuri Paribar (dir. Ajit Lahiri)
1967 Mahasweta (dir. Pinaki Mukherjee)
1967 Prastar Saakkhar (dir. Salil Dutta)
1968 Baghini (dir. Bijoy Bose)
1969 Teen Bhuboner Pare
1969 Parineeta Shekhar (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1970 Aranyer Din Ratri Ashim (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1972 Jiban Saikate (dir. Swedesh Sarkar)
1973 Ashani Sanket Gangacharan Chakravarti (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1973 "Basanta Bilap" Shyam Sundar Ghosh (dir.Dinen Roy)
1974 Sonar Kella Pradosh C. Mitter, a.k.a. Feluda (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1975 Sansar Simante Aghor (dir. Tarun Majumdar)
1976 Datta Noren Babu (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1978 Joi Baba Felunath Pradosh C. Mitter, a.k.a. Feluda (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1979 Devdas Debdas (dir. Dilip Roy)
1979 Noukadubi Ramesh (dir. Ajoy Kar)
1979 Ganadevata Pandit Debu Ghosh (dir. Tarun Majumdar)
1980 Hirak Rajar Deshe Professor Udayan (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1983 Agradani (dir. Palash Bandhopadhaya)
1984 Ghare Baire Sandip (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1986 Koni (dir. Saroj Dey)
1986 Shyam Saheb (dir. Salil Dutta)
1986 Atanka (dir. Tapan Sinha)
1987 Sukumar Ray voice and acted as Rama in the play (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1988 The Bengali Night Narendra Sen (dir. Nicolas Klotz)
1989 Ganashatru Dr. Ashoke Gupta (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1990 Shakha Proshakha Proshanto, the 2nd son, a.k.a. "Mezda" (dir. Satyajit Ray)
1991 Mahaprithivi Husband (dir. Mrinal Sen)
1994 The Broken Journey Dr. Sengupta (dir. Sandip Ray)
1994 Wheelchair Doctor (dir. Tapan Sinha)
1995 Bhagya Debata
1999 Asukh (dir.Rituparno Ghosh)
2004 Shadows of Time Older Ravi dir. Florian Gallenberger
2006 Padakshep Sasanka Palit dir. Suman Ghosh
2007 Ballyngunge Court dir. Pinaki Chowdhury
2007 Chander Bari dir. Tarun Majumdar
2008 10:10 Don Durgaprasad dir. Arin Paul
2009 Angshumaner Chhobi Prodyut dir. Atanu Ghosh
2009 SugarBaby Father Francis dir. Trisha Ray
2010 Bodhisattva Bodhisattva dir. San Banarje
2012 Nobel Chor dir. Suman Ghosh
2012 The Nowhere Son Anil Chakroborty dir. San Banarje
2012 Life In Park Street dir. Raj Mukherjee
2013 Room No. 103 Rudra Chatterjee dir. Aniket Chattopadhyay
2013 Maach Mishti & More dir. Mainak Bhaumik
2013 Shunyo Awnko dir. Goutam Ghose
2013 Alik Sukh dir. Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee
2013 Rupkatha Noy Sisir Ray dir. Atanu Ghosh
2013 Nirbhoya Chief Minister dir. Milan Bhowmik


  1. ^ Soumitra Chatterjee, Actor Retrieved 3 October 2012

External links[edit]