6 April 1931
Pabna, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in Bangladesh)
|Died||17 January 2014
Kolkata, West Bengal,
|Notable work(s)||Saat Pake Badha
Deep Jele Jai
|Spouse(s)||Dibanath Sen (1947–1970 till his death)|
|Children||Moon Moon Sen|
|Awards||Padma Shri, Banga Bibhushan|
Suchitra Sen (Bengali pronunciation: [ʃuːtʃiːraː ʃeːn] listen (help·info)), born Roma Dasgupta ( listen (help·info); 6 April 1931 – 17 January 2014), was an Indian actress who acted in several Bengali and a few Hindi films. The movies in which she was paired opposite Uttam Kumar became classics in the history of Bengali Cinema.
Suchitra Sen was the first Indian actress to receive an award at an international film festival when, at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival, she won the Silver Prize for Best Actress for Saat Paake Bandha. In 1972, she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India. From 1979 on, she retreated from public life and shunned all forms of public contact; for this she is often compared to Greta Garbo. In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest cinematic award in India, to stay out of the public eye. In 2012, she was conferred the West Bengal Government's highest honour: Banga Bibhushan.
Personal life and education
Suchita Sen was born in Sen Bhanga Bari village of Belkuchi Upazila, now in Sirajgonj District, Greater Pabna in the present day Pabna District of Bangladesh, on 6 April 1931. Her father Late Karunamoy Dasgupta was the headmaster of the local school, and her mother Late Indira Devi was a homemaker. She was their fifth child and third daughter. Ms Sen is a Grand Daughter of Famous Poet Sree Rajonikant Sen. She received her formal education in Pabna. Partition brought her family and her to West Bengal, where she married Dibanath Sen, son of wealthy industrialist Adinath Sen, in 1947, and had one daughter, Moon Moon Sen, who is a former actress. Her father-in-law, Adinath Sen, was supportive of her acting career in films after her marriage. Her industrialist husband invested a lot in her career initially and supported her in all possible ways.
Sen had made a successful entry into Bengali films in 1952, and then a less successful transition into the Hindi movie industry. According to persistent but unconfirmed reports in the Bengali press, her marriage was strained by her success in the film industry.
Suchitra Sen made her debut in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but it was never released. The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor, a film by Nirmal Dey. It was a box-office hit and is remembered for launching Uttam-Suchitra as a leading pair. They went on to become the icons for Bengali dramas for more than 20 years, becoming almost a genre unto themselves. She has acted in 30 of her 60 films with Uttam Kumar . She was the first and only one to be given the sobriquet “Mahanayika” (Great Actress). The only other person to receive a similar honor being Uttam Kumar. She received a Best Actress Award for the film Devdas (1955), which was her first Hindi movie. Her Bengali melodramas and romances, especially with Uttam Kumar, made her the most famous Bengali actress ever. Her pairing with Bengal’s King of Hearts Uttam Kumar created classic romantic hits (Agnipariksha, Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Pathey Holo Deri, Kamal Lata, Indrani, Sabar Upore, Suryatoran, Shaare Chuattor, Sadanander Mela, Jiban Trishna, Ekti Raat, Chaawa Paawa, Shapmochan, Bipasha, Naborag, Trijama, Rajlakshmi Srikanto, Har Mana Har, Alo Amar Alo, Ora Thakey Odhare, Grihaprabesh and others) that have enjoyed ageless popularity and are watched, loved and admired even to this day.
The skyrocketing popularity of this romantic pair created a benchmark that remains unchallenged to this day. No other romantic pair in Bengali cinema in the subsequent decades have been able to match up to the magic created by Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar.
Her films ran through the 1960s and '70s. She continued to act in films even after her husband died in 1970 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, such as in the Hindi film Aandhi (1974). Aandhi was inspired by India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Sen received a Filmfare Award nomination as Best Actress, while Sanjeev Kumar, who essayed the role of her husband, won the Filmfare as Best Actor.
One of her best known performances was in Deep Jwele Jaai (1959). She played in a charecter name Radha Mitra, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, who is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved Oedipal dilemma. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury's violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love again. In the end, even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is noted for its partly lit close-ups of Sen, which set the tone of the film. Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969) with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role.
Suchitra Sen's other landmark film with Asit Sen was Uttar Falguni (1963). She plays the dual role of a courtesan, Pannabai, and her daughter Suparna, a lawyer. Critics note that she brought a great deal of poise, grace and dignity to the role of a fallen woman determined to see her daughter grow up in a good, clean environment.
Suchitra Sen's international success came in 1963, when she won the best actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for the movie Saat Paake Bandha, becoming the first Indian actress to receive an international film award.
There is a scene in Saat Paake Bandha where Suchitra Sen has to tear the vest that Soumitra is wearing. Later, at a party thrown to celebrate the film's success, she did a repeat of the scene and tore Soumitra's shirt, much to the amazement of those present. Something that no one but her, could have even imagined doing in that age!
A film critic summed up Suchitra Sen's career and continuing legacy as "one half of one of Indian cinema's most popular and abiding screen pairs, Suchitra Sen redefined stardom in a way that few actors have done, combining understated sensuality, feminine charm and emotive force and a no-nonsense gravitas to carve out a persona that has never been matched, let alone surpassed in Indian cinema"
Suchitra Sen refused Satyajit Ray's offer due to a scheduling problem. As a result, Ray never made the film Devi Chaudhurani based on the novel written by Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya. She also refused Raj Kapoor's offer for a film under the RK banner.
Sen continued to act after her husband's death in 1970, but called it a day when Pronoy Pasha flopped, and retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion. She was to do a film project Nati Binodini, also starring Rajesh Khanna, but the film was shelved mid-way after shooting when she decided to quit acting.
She assiduously avoided the public gaze after her retirement and devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission. Suchitra Sen was a contender for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005, provided she was ready to accept it in person. Her refusal to go to New Delhi and personally accept it from the President of India deprived her of the award.
Suchitra Sen was admitted to the hospital on 24 December 2013 and was diagnosed with a lung infection. She was reported to have been recovering well in the first week of January. She died at 8.25 am on 17 January 2014, due to a heart attack.
Suchitra Sen's death was condoled by many leaders, including the President of India Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and B.J.P.'s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. A gun salute was given before her cremation, upon the orders of Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal.
Respecting her fierce desire for complete privacy, her last rites were performed at Kolkata's Kaioratola crematorium, barely five and half hours after she breathed her last, with her coffin reaching the crematorium in a flower decked hearse with dark-tinted windows. Despite being Bengal's greatest star, referred to as "Mahanayika", she had consciously chosen to step into oblivion and she remained an enigma till her last, although thousands of fans had converged at the crematorium to catch one last glimpse of their idol. Her entire medical treatment had also been done in seclusion and secrecy.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, the below mentioned films are in Bengali language.
|1953||Saat Number Kayedi|
|1953||Bhagaban Srikrishna Chaitanya||Bishnupriya|
|1954||Ora Thaake Odhare||Nilu|
|1954||Atom Bomb||Appeared as an extra in the film shot in 1951 but released in 1954|
|1955||Devdas||Parvati (Paro)||First Hindi language film|
|1955||Sabar Uparey||Rita||Based on A.J. Cronin's 1953 novel, Beyond This Place,|
|1957||Harano Sur||Dr. Roma Banerjee|
|1957||Pathe Holo Deri||Mallika|
|1957||Musafir||Shakuntala Verma||Hindi language|
|1958||Rajlakshmi O Srikanta||Rajlakshmi|
|1958||Surya Toran||Anita Chatterjee|
|1959||Deep Jwele Jaai||Radha|
|1959||Chaaowa Pawoa||Manju||The Story was taken from a Hollywood movie "It Happened One Night" 1934|
|1960||Smriti Tuku Thaak||Shobha also Utpala -Double Role|
|1960||Bombai Ka Baboo||Maya||Hindi language|
|1963||Saat Paake Badha||Archana|
|1963||Uttar Fhalguni||Debjani / Pannabai / Suparna|
|1964||Sandhya Deeper Sikha||Jayanti Bannerjee|
|1966||Mamta||Devyani / Pannabai / Suparna||Hindi language|
|1970||Megh Kalo||Dr. Nirmalya Roy|
|1972||Alo Amaar Alo||Atashi|
|1972||Haar Maana Haar||Neera|
|1975||Aandhi||Aarti Devi||Hindi language|
- 1963 – Awarded 3rd Moscow International Film Festival – Best Actress Award for Saat Paake Bandha
- 1963 – Nominated Filmfare Best Actress Award for Mamta
- 1972 – Awarded Padma Shri for notable contribution in arts
- 1976 – Nominated Filmfare Best Actress Award for Aandhi
- 2012 – Awarded Banga Bibhushan for lifetime achievement in film acting
- Sharma, Vijay Kaushik, Bela Rani (1998). Women's rights and world development. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. p. 368. ISBN 8176250155.
- "Suchitra Sen, Bengal's sweetheart". NDTV. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "3rd Moscow International Film Festival (1963)". MIFF. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
- "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)". Ministry of Home Affairs. "1972: 130: Smt Suchitra Sen"
- Bannerjee, Monideepa (17 January 2014). "Why Suchitra Sen became a recluse and other stories". NDTV. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "India's Greta Garbo' Suchitra Sen dies". 17 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Suchitra Sen awarded Banga-Bibhusan". Zee News India. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Das, Mohua (20 May 2012). "The perils of a packed prize podium Ravi Shankar declines award". Telegraph, Kolkata (Calcutta, India). Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Deb, Alok Kumar. "APRIL BORN a few PERSONALITIES". www.tripurainfo.com. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
- "Garbo meets Sen Two women bound by beauty and mystery". Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 8 July 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Print edition : February 7, 2014). "Suchitra Sen : Reclusive legend". Frontline. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Chakraborty, Ajanta (18 Jun 2011). "Actress Suchitra Sen's secrets out!". TNN (Times of India).
- Deepanjana Pal. "RIP Suchitra Sen. It is the end of a fairytale". Firstpost. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Bengali cinema's golden queen Suchitra Sen no more : Movies, News – India Today". Indiatoday.intoday.in. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Pal, Deepanjana (17 January 2014). "RIP Suchitra Sen. It is the end of a fairytale". Firstpost. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Chatterjee, ed. board Gulzar, Govind Nuhalani, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi cinema. New Delhi: Encyclopaedia Britannica. pp. PT647. ISBN 8179910660.
- Nag, Amitava (17 January 2014). "Uttam Kumar and 'Mrs Sen': The magical, hypnotic Uttam-Suchitra years". Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Dasgupta, Piyashree (17 January 2014). "Why Suchitra Sen is a part of every Bengali's favourite memories". Firstpost. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Reference: Rahe na rahe hum…Legendary Actress Suchitra Sen Bids Adieu". Learning and Creativity. 17 Sep 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "The Best Films of Suchitra Sen". Rediff. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Gupta, Subhra (17 January 2014). "Suchitra Sen: A superstar in Bengal, an accidental tourist in Mumbai". Indian Express. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Verma, Sukanya (2 December 2013). "Waheeda Rehman's haunting melancholy in Khamoshi.". Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Waheeda Rehman's haunting melancholy in Khamoshi". Rediff. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Ray, Gitanjali (17 January 2014). "Suchitra Sen, Bengal's sweetheart". NDTV. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Bengali cinema's golden queen Suchitra Sen no more". India Today. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Jamil, Maqsud (17 January 2014). "Endearments of boundless charm". Daily Star. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Sur, Prateek (17 January 2014). "10 less known facts about Suchitra Sen, the first Paro of Bollywood". Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen – Bengali Cinema’s First Couple". Learning and Creativity. 17 Jan 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Chatterjee, Saibal (17 January 2014). "Suchitra Sen: Iconic Indian Bengali actress dies". BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Suchitra said 'no' to Satyajit Ray, Raj Kapoor". Business Standard. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- IANS (6 April 1931). "Suchitra Sen: The quintessential enigma despite 59 films – Times Of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "'Uttam wanted to meet Suchitra Sen a week before his death' – Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- Ray, Gitanjali (17 January 2014). "Actress Suchitra Sen cremated, given gun salute". NDTV. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Veteran actor Suchitra Sen's health improves". The Hindu. 4 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Veteran acctress Suchitra Sen dies in Kolkata hospital after massive heart attack". Financial Express. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Suchitra Sen suffers massive heart attack, passes away – Entertainment – DNA". Dnaindia.com. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Indian Leaders Condole the Sad Demise of Suchitra Sen". Biharprabha News. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "BBC News – Suchitra Sen: Iconic Indian Bengali actress dies". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Rahe na rahe hum…Legendary Actress Suchitra Sen Bids Adieu". Learning and Creativity. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
- Suchitra Sen at the Internet Movie Database
- A Biography upperstal.com
- Calcuttaweb article on Suchitra Sen