Editorial: Adieu, Apu

Legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee, star of some of Bengali cinema’s finest films, has died. He was 85. He was an actor who never appeared in a Bollywood film, in spite of lucrative offers, including turning down the role of a Bengali doctor in ‘Anand’, which shot Amitabh Bachchan to fame.

He refused the Padma Sri in 1972 because he felt it would be wrong to accept an honour when there was no safety net for daily wage workers in the film industry. Governments did not give up. So in 2012, he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest award in India for cinema, and France’s biggest civilian award—the Chevalier of Legion of Honour—in 2017.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, politicians and film personalities from across the country have expressed condolences on the passing away of Chatterjee. In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, ‘Shri Soumitra Chatterjee’s death is a colossal loss to the world of cinema, cultural life of West Bengal and India. Through his works, he came to embody Bengali sensibilities, emotions and ethos. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.’

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived at the hospital soon after Soumitra Chatterjee’s death to be with the actor’s family. She tweeted: “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.”

She added: “Best known for his films with Satyajit Ray, Soumitra Da was conferred with Legion of Honor, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Banga Bibhushan, Padma Bhushan & several National Awards. A great loss. Saddened. Condolences to his family, the film fraternity & his admirers across the world.” Chatterjee’s death is a great loss to film industry and let his soul rest in peace.


NT Bureau