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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Remembering Suchitra Sen – the Queen of Romance

Hailed as the queen of romance, Suchitra Sen leaves behind a legacy of path-breaking films for cinema lovers By Shoma A. Chatterji Suchitra Sen, the first and, perhaps, the most successful romantic star of Bengali cinema, passed away on 17 January, 2014. She was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata, after she complained of […]

Mumbai |
Updated: January 24, 2014 5:26:02 pm

Hailed as the queen of romance, Suchitra Sen leaves behind a legacy of path-breaking films for cinema lovers

By Shoma A. Chatterji
Suchitra Sen, the first and, perhaps, the most successful romantic star of Bengali cinema, passed away on 17 January, 2014. She was admitted to a nursing home in Kolkata, after she complained of respiratory problems and battled with her ailment for nearly a month. According to reports, she had refused medical treatment, medication and food on the day before she passed away. Her demise also marks the end of the most glorious era in Bengali cinema with her romantic screen partner Uttam Kumar, who had passed away in the eighties.
The last time her fans saw Suchitra Sen on screen was in Pronoy Pasha (1978). After her last screen appearance, she receded in a shell and built a wall of silence around her, that was difficult to break. She shied away from public glare and hardly stepped out of her Ballygunge Circular Road apartment.

The enigma


An enigmatic personality, Sen had managed to create an aura and mystique around her, wooing the audience with her sterling performances in Bengali films. Although her foray into Hindi cinema did not meet with the same amount of success, Sen was applauded for her skill to add subtle nuances to every character that she played. Though not commercially successful, except for Mamta, her movies remain archived in film history for her moving portrayals. Hrishikesh Mukherjee made his directorial debut with Musafir (1957) starring Sen. She was later seen opposite Dev Anand in Sarhad and Bambai Ka Babu; she then was seen opposite Dilip Kumar in Bimal Roy’s Devdas in which she portrayed the understated Parvati. But her most noticeable performance till date remains in Gulzar’s Aandhi.
In Suchitrar Katha, Gopal Krishna Dey, her biographer creates an image of the reclusive actress who refused to collaborate or give interviews. The book traces the story of a star, who left stardom to lead a life in spiritual pursuit, and a quiet domestic life with her daughter, Moon Moon Sen and two grand-daughters, Riya and Raima Sen. It is a fascinating story of a beautiful young girl who reluctantly stepped into films, became a star, but had to go through a broken marriage while trying to balance stardom and single motherhood.

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Awards and accolades


Though she made her debut in Shesh Kothai (1952), the film was never released and the Bengali audience saw her for the first time in Saarey Chuattar (1953) with Uttam Kumar, that paved the way for a successful onscreen partnership. An effervescent comedy, it also shot its director Nirmal Dey into the limelight. Both Sen and Kumar went on to play the romantic lead in scores of films like Shap Mochan (1955), Sagarika (1956), Harano Sur (1957), Saptapadi (1961), Bipasha (1962) and Grihadah (1967), panning over 20 years. Their films were famous for the soft-focus, close-ups of the stars and the lavishly mounted sets against windswept expanses and richly decorated interiors. Sen was the first Indian actress to bring home the Silver Prize for Best Actress for Saat Paake Bandha at the 1963 Moscow Film Festival. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972 by Government of India, but refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005, as she preferred to stay away from public gaze.
Honoured with Banga Bibhushan, one of the highest honour conferred by the West Bengal government, stars like Suchitra Sen never die, nor do they fade away. Their memories, their stories remain alive on celluloid for
posterity.

Industry speak

I was very saddened by her demise and I will miss her. There is no actress as gorgeous as Suchitra Sen. She was generally a very reserved person and maintained her distance from everyone, but when we were shooting for Mamta in 1966, she took me to see the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata. She had nicknamed me D!
Dharmendra

Suchitraji was an epitome of self-confidence. She not only belonged to the Bengali film industry, but received fame at the international platform too.
— Rituparna Sengupta

We lost our Mahanayak (the popular title given to Uttam Kumar) a long time back; now, our Mahanayika has left us too. It’s truly a great loss for all of us and for those who loved her unconditionally: her fans, followers and the industry.
— Prosenjit Chatterjee

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As I drive to work, news of passing away of another icon saddens me — Suchitra Sen, has left us ! Talent and grace personified!
tweeted Amitabh Bachchan

I remember Suchitra, as a demure lady and an actress who sprang to life the minute the camera focused on her. RIP.
— tweeted Dilip Kumar

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First published on: 24-01-2014 at 01:00:54 am

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