Veteran Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee has been awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2011 for his decades-long contribution to Indian cinema.
I feel honoured and accept the award with humility. This is the highest honour in the country that can be bestowed upon someone connected to films. It vindicates my faith in my countrymen for sustaining me for more than five decades. I miss my elders like Satyajit Ray,who was my mentor and made my life. And also the great Tapan Sinha who had been a great teacher, Chatterjee,77,said after the announcement.
Following the announcement of the national awards,the government had announced nominees for the Dadasaheb Phalke for 2011. In the fray,along with Chatterjee,were Pran,Manoj Kumar and Vyjayanthimala.
In 2008,Chatterjee was honoured with the national award for Suman Ghoshs film Podokkep in 2008. Chatterjee,who continues to actively engage in stage and cinema,had been conferred the Officier des Arts et Metiers,the highest award for arts given by the French government,and a lifetime achievement award from Italy earlier.
Chatterjee debuted in 1959 in Satyajit Rays Apur Sansar. He also immortalised Rays sleuth Feluda on the silver screen. He has worked in iconic Bengali films like Charulata,Teen Kanya,Kshudito Pashan,Parineeta,Aranyer Din Ratri,Hirak Rajar Deshe and others.
Chatterjee,who headed the Kolkata Film Festival committee during Left rule,was recently replaced by actor Ranjit Mullick.