End of an Era: Bengal legend Soumitra Chatterjee dies at 85

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End of an Era: Bengal legend Soumitra Chatterjee dies at 85 - We The World
Image courtesy of @varungrover via Twitter

KOLKATA (India): Legendary Bengal superstar Soumita Chatterjee breathed his last after weeks of complicated battle with health, following a novel coronavirus infection which he tested positive on October 6.

“We declare with a heavy heart that Shri Soumitra Chatterjee breathed his last at 12:15 pm at Belle Vue Clinic today. We pay our homage to his soul,” a statement from Belle Vue Clinic, Kolkata, where he was admitted said.

The actor tested COVID-19 positive earlier last month from which he recovered to a point doctors hoped the star would walk back home on two feet. He tested COVID-19 negative on October 14th, media reports confirm.

But his condition started to deteriorate in the following weeks. The novel coronavirus took a toll on Chatterjee’s health and was diagnosed with encephalopathy — a condition wherein the brain functions are affected by secondary agents or conditions like a virus or infections.

“He is on different life support systems. It seems that our almost 40 days’ fight is not enough to make him well,” one of the doctors treating him told Times of India hours before the actor passed away on Sunday morning.

Earlier, Dr. Arindam Kar, who was leading the medical team treating Mr. Chatterjee, told NDTV, that despite their best efforts, Chatterjee’s consciousness was not coming back. “Rather it has gone down,” he said.

Soumitra chatterjee was reportedly very critical in his last hours.

Chatterjee, whose career was kickstarted with the Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray with his cult-epic Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959) and the duo went on to work on fourteen films including Charulata (The Lonely Wife, 1964), Abhijan (The Expedition, 1962), Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest, 1969) among others.

In a career spanning over six decades, the actor kept entertaining the audience and garnering critical appreciation from the critics and the public alike, at the same pace as the current ace filmmakers like Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.

Soumitra Chatterjee is also one of the few Indian actors to have been awarded Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artists. Chatterjee was also conferred The Dadasaheb Phalke — India’s highest award in Cinemas.

The end of an era – Soumitra Chatterjee

Actor Soumitra had is christening with acting with theatre personality Ahindra Choudhury, where he went on to get recognition. Then came the turning point in his career when he landed the role of ‘Apu’ in the third installment of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu’ trilogy in the film named Apur Sansar (1959). He was initially rejected for the role.

“Feluda’ is no more. ‘Apu’ said goodbye. Farewell, Soumitra (Da) Chatterjee. He has been a legend in his lifetime. International, Indian and Bengali cinema has lost a giant. We will miss him dearly. The film world in Bengal has been orphaned,” Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote on Twitter.

“request friends in the media to not call and ask for a ‘reaction’. This pain is too personal. This loss doesn’t belong to words, belongs to me alone,” actor Parambrata Chatterjee wrote on Twitter.

Actor Rahul Bose tweeted, “I grew up watching his films day after day. So working with him in #15ParkAvenue was surreal. He answered all my questions on how it was to work with #SatyajitRay with generosity and warmth. It’s been a privilege, Soumitrada. Rest in peace.”

“RIP Soumitra Chatterjee! You live on through your work for eternity! Thank you for the movies. A big, big loss to the world of cinema and art. An era has indeed ended with no one in sight to fill the void.💔” actor Richa Chadda tweeted with a Soumitra’s picture.

American Indian actor Rachel White wrote on Twitter: “Bidding Farewell with a heavy heart to the legendary #SoumitraChatterjee. Prayers and warmth going out to his family and fans world over.”

“This year will take it all. Parents, legends, childhood, nostalgia. All of it. Merciless year,” actor Swastika Mukherjee wrote on Twitter.

For decades, Chatterjee held his sway on the Bengali film industry, delivering one-after-the-other works of art, sometimes as the evocative Feluda sometimes the quintessence of a Bengali gentleman.

The loss is certainly deep from Kolkata, and the Film Industry along and the gashes of his absence will run deep in the flesh of Bengali cinema.

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