Suchitra Sen: The quintessential enigma despite 59 films

Kolkata, Jan 17 (IANS) Bengali celluloid queen Suchitra Sen captivated generations with her beauty, elegance and portrayal of myriad characters, yet remained an enigma despite over three decades of self-imposed reclusion that prompted constant parallels with Hollywood icon Greta Garbo.

In a 26-year career with 59 films, the "Mahanayika" (greatest heroine) worked with Bengal's biggest matinee idol Uttam Kumar to usher in the golden era of Bengali cinema. She also came up with memorable performances in a number of Hindi movies like "Devdas", "Mamta", "Musafir", "Bombai Ka Babu" and "Aandhi".

Sen, 82, who had bewitched generations of filmbuffs with her grace and beauty, died at a Kolkata nursing home Friday following a massive cardiac arrest, a doctor said. She was under treatment for the last 26 days following serious respiratory problems.Sen's seductive appeal - accentuated by her intense and dreamy eyes, subtle gestures, a bewitching smile as also the uniquely romantic way she used her eyes and face in close-up frames - floored countless male fans cutting across age and time barriers.

Among the Bengali speaking people, both in India and Bangladesh as also across the world, Sen's popularity remains unmatched.

The songs she lipped are still a rage, and she is still the reference point for budding actresses, even though her last movie appearance came way back in the 1978 release "Pronoy Pasha".

Acclaimed British film critic Derek Malcolm once said: "She was very, very beautiful. She had this 'still' quality. She did not need to do a lot of 'acting'."

However, Sen did give strong but restrained performances in most of the 52 Bengali and seven Hindi films she featured in, and was the second Indian actress to get an international award after Nargis' win at Karlovy Vary for "Mother India".

Her excellent depiction of the trauma of a woman unable to hold on to her marriage in "Saat Pake Bandha" won her the Silver Prize for best actress at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival.

She was a trendsetter in many respects - one instance being her entry into films five years after her marriage to Dibanath Sen in 1947, something unimaginable in those days. The marriage, was, however, said to be rocky.

Born Rama Dasgupta April 6, 1931, in Pabna district - now in Bangladesh - to a school headmaster father Karunamoy Dasgupta and homemaker mother Indira Devi, in 1952 Sen took the nom de plume Suchitra in her first movie "Sesh Kothai". But the film was not released.

It was her next venture, a successful comedy "Sharey Chuattar", that saw the coming together of the Suchitra-Uttam team.

The pair went on to enthral audiences for 20 years. They acted together in 30 movies, including super hits like "Agnipariksha", "Shap Mochan" (1955), "Sagarika"(1956), "Harano Sur" (1957), "Indrani"(1958), "Chaowa Pawa"(1959), and "Saptapadi" (1961).

The film "Saptapadi" showcased her multifaceted talent. She essayed Rina Brown, a drunken Anglo-Indian woman soldier, getting much kudos that paved the way for more unconventional roles.

Interestingly, many of her greatest performances came in films where she was paired opposite heroes other than Uttam Kumar. If it was Soumitra Chattejree in "Saat Pake Bandha", in "Uttar Falguni", in which Sen did the double role of a courtesan and her lawyer daughter, the male lead was Bikash Roy.

Again in "Deep Jele Jai", she played a nurse trying to cure the mentally ill hero - played by Basanta Chowdhury. "Hospital" had Ashok Kumar as the hero.

But there were those like Chatterjee, who had reservations about her acting calibre. "She was beautiful, but I don't consider her as a great actress", he often said.

Sen made a well-appreciated debut in Hindi films with Bimal Roy's "Devdas" in 1955 as the elegant Paro opposite Dilip Kumar's Devdas. Despite several remakes, Sen's Paro reigns supreme.

It is said during the film's shooting at Mumbai's Mohan Studios, hundreds lined-up outside to catch a glimpse of her beauty.

Added to her charm was her boldness, evident in the hit "Aandhi" (1975), in which where her character was modelled on former prime minister Indira Gandhi, fetched her a National Award.

Such was her demand that the legendary Satyajit Ray scrapped his proposed film "Devi Chaudhurani" as Sen or Mrs. Sen - as she liked to be called - could not provide the dates, says her biographer Gopal Krishna Roy.

Her refusal to act in a film by Raj Kapoor made headlines. "She was moody, and Hindi films were never her first love. May be, that's the reason," said Roy.

Sen continued to act after her husband's death in 1970, but called it a day when "Pronoy Pasha" flopped.

Like the later life Garbo, Sen withdrew from the public eye, refusing to meet even top VIPs and her old friends from the film fraternity. Photographs were almost always a strict no-no. Only her daughter Moon Moon and granddaughters - Raima and Riya - all known actors and a handful of close people had access.

"It was to preserve her youthful image among her countless fans," said Roy.

She even turned down in 2005 the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest honour in Indian cinema, as she would have had to collect it in person from the president.

She kept herself occupied in religious chores, gardening, reading, and devoting her time to the Ramakrishna Mission. When she ventured outdoors, she took all care to camouflage her identity.

In 2012, the West Bengal government's conferred its highest award "Banga Bibhushan" on Sen in absentia.

The actress who had once famously stated, "I'm to be seen only on screen because I am an actress", will always live on, in black-and-white or colour, through her films.

Most Viewed

  • Ranbir Kapoor goes gown on his knees to propose to Deepika Padukone
    Ranbir Kapoor goes gown on his knees to propose to Deepika Padukone

    All the eyes are on Ranbir Kapoor and his ex beau Deepika Padukone who have been shooting together for their upcoming film Tamasha. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone were shooting for a romantic scene, where Ranbir had to go down on knees and propose Deepika Padukone. You can see in the pictures, Ranbir Kapoor goes down on Knees, while Deepika Padukone gets surprised on it. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone and is directed by Imtiaz Ali. …

  • Check Out: Alia Bhatt’s Transformed Vanity Van
    Check Out: Alia Bhatt’s Transformed Vanity Van

    Bollywood’s cutest actress Alia Bhatt is too excited and happy for her new personalized Vanity Van. The actress has recently got a new makeover for her vanity van. Alia Bhatt who calls her vanity van as a second home tweeted with a picture, “My second home, my vanity van !!! Thank you amritamahalnakai for transforming my van !! I love you to… Student Of The Year actress got her old vanity van customized into new according to her taste by Amrita Mahalnakai. As you can see in the picture just …

  • Priyanka Chopra Bags The Most Expensive Endorsement Deal Of 15 Crore
    Priyanka Chopra Bags The Most Expensive Endorsement Deal Of 15 Crore

    Recently we reported that actress Priyanka Chopra is in US for the shooting of her upcoming new Hollywood TV show, Quantico. The actress will feature in ABC drama pilot ‘Quantico’ as a FBI trainee named as Alex Weaver. According to the reports, the officials approached Mary Kom actress last month and pitched the campaign to her, to which, she agreed to be part of it. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra is busy shooting for Hollywood TV show, Quantico. …

  • Saif-Kareena Kapoor Khan And Soha-Kunal Khemu’s Wild Holiday
    Saif-Kareena Kapoor Khan And Soha-Kunal Khemu’s Wild Holiday

    Actress Kareena Kapoor Khan with hubby Saif Ali Khan spend their quality time with newly wed couple Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu. The couples are in Nagarhole, spending their weekend staying over at Saad Bin Jung’s resort, The Bison. In the picture, Kareena, Saif, and Soha Ali Khan are chilling out in open cottage, assuming Kunal Khemu clicking their picture, as he is missing. Kunal Khemu tweeted, On the early morning safari at Nagarhole wildlife reserve through the mist we spotted this …

  • Sussanne Khan Spent Rs 16 Crore On A Penthouse In Pune?
    Sussanne Khan Spent Rs 16 Crore On A Penthouse In Pune?

    Hrithik Roshan‘s ex-wife Sussanne Khan has bought an expensive property for herself outside Mumbai city. According to recent reports, Sussanne Khan bought a beautiful penthouse in Pune for about 16 crore! The penthouse is located in Trump Towers, Kalyani Nagar and the celebrity interior decorator has bought the property only for investment purpose. A source was quoted saying, “Yes, she has purchased a penthouse in Pune. It is located in Trump Towers, Kalyani Nagar. …

  • Fifty Shades Of Grey Banned In India By Censor Board
    Fifty Shades Of Grey Banned In India By Censor Board

    Censor Board Of Film Certification has banned to release the big screen adaptation of erotic novel “Fifty Shades Of Grey” in India. Censor Board has objected the film to release it in India as it contains some erotic scenes and dialogues. The chief executive of Central Board of film Certification, Shravan Kumar declined to say that why the panel refused to approve the film adaptation. …

  • Jacqueline Fernandez And Sonam Kapoor’s Selfie Mania At The Hospital
    Jacqueline Fernandez And Sonam Kapoor’s Selfie Mania At The Hospital

    Actress Sonam Kapoor who is getting treated at Mumbai’s Kokilaben Hospital after being tested positive for swine flu, is in the recovery stage. Sonam Kapoor tweeted that she is much better and in recovery stage. Kick actress tweeted a picture with Sonam Kapoor, “With my @sonamakapoor she’s feeling much better!!! Recently at the promotion event, Sonam Kapoor’s dad Anil Kapoor informed everyone that Sonam‘s recovering and is feeling much better. Well good to hear that the actress is getting …

  • Manoj Bajpayee turns gay professor; sports unkempt look for ALIGARH
    Manoj Bajpayee turns gay professor; sports unkempt look for ALIGARH

    The first look of Manoj Bajpayee's character in National Award-winning filmmaker Hansal …

Loading...