Every role that he essayed remains priceless, no matter the genre of the film or the nature of the character. Yet, there are some performances in the oeuvre of late Bangla cinema legend Soumitra Chattopadhyay that simply define perfection. IANS lists 15 such roles, arranged chronologically.
APURBA KUMAR ROY in APUR SANSAR (1959)
Soumitra’s debut role was in the concluding film of Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy, as an adult Apu. The film cast Soumitra opposite Sharmila Tagore, a widely considered one of the most romantic on-screen pairs in Bangla cinema.
MAYURBAHAN in JHINDER BANDI (1961)
The historical drama saw Tapan Sinha casting Uttam Kumar and Soumitra together. The music by Ali Akbar Khan remains immortal.
NARSINGH in ABHIJAN (1962)
Satyajit Ray’s film cast Soumitra as a taxi driver who gets involved in crime lured by money. The film starred Waheeda Rehman in a pivotal role.
PROFESSOR SUKHENDU DUTTA in SAAT PAAKE BANDHA (1963)
Ajoy Kar’s romantic drama cast Soumitra opposite Suchitra Sen and was one of the biggest commercial hits of the time. The film was remade in Hindi as Kora Kagaz
AMAL in CHARULATA (1964)
Many consider it Satyajit Ray’s most intricate work of art. Soumitra played the dashing Amal who shares a complicated romantic relationship with his sister-in-law in this film based on Rabindranath Tagore’s story, Nashtanirh.
DR. PRATUL BHATTACHARJEE in BAKSHO BADAL (1970)
A rom-com screenplayed by Satyajit Ray based on a story by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, the Nityananda Datta directorial has Soumitra as a psychiatrist who uses his knowledge of the human mind to find his way into the heart of the girl he loves (Aparna Sen).
FELUDA in SONAR KELLA (1974) and JOI BABA FELUNATH (1979)
He was the original Feluda, just like Sean Connery was the original James Bond. Undoubtedly Soumitra’s most popular avatar on screen, his rendition of the Bhadralok detective in these Satyajit Ray films continues to be the yardstick to match for actors who took up the role after him.
SANDIP MUKHERJEE in GHARE BAIRE (1984)
Satyajit Ray’s romantic drama is set in a zamindar estate, in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal. Soumitra played Sandip Mukherjee, a revolutionary whose arrival jolts the happy marriage of the affluent protagonist couple.
KHID DA in KONY (1984)
Based on sports writer Moti Nandi’s novel of the same name, the Saroj Dey film cast Soumitra as the passionate swimming coach Khitish, or Khid da. His dialogue in the film, “Fight Kony, fight”, exhorting teenage swimming phenomenon Kony (Sriparna Banerjee) in the film, has attained a sort of cult status in popular Bengali lore.
MASTERMOSHAI in ATANKA (1986)
In one of Tapan Sinha’s most hardhitting films, Soumitra projected the dilemma between the urge to do what is right and the fear to face its consequences in the role of an aging school master, who becomes witness to a murder committed by an ex-student from an influential background.
SASHI BHUSAN SANYAL in DEKHA (2001)
Based on a story by Sunil Gangopadhyay, the Goutam Ghose film had Soumitra playing a blind poet who is a loner. The film takes a critical stance at indiscriminate changes sweeping our lives.
AMARNATH in ASAMAPTO (2005)
The Atanu Ghosh drama casts Soumitra as an old man suffering from Alzheimer’s and loss of coherence in speech and movement, who is lost in the city and cannot recall his home address.
SHASHANKA PALIT in PODOKKHEP (2006)
Soumitra was recipient of the Best Actor trophy at the National Awards for the year 2006, for his role in the Suman Ghosh film. He portrayed with nuances the agonies and ecstasies of an aging man trying to find his space in a rapidly changing world.
BISWANATH MAJUMDAR in BELASESHE (2015)
The filmmaker duo of Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy question the institution of marriage through the story of publishing house owner Biswanath Majumdar (Soumitra), who announces his decision to divorce his wife (Swatilekha Sengupta) after nearly half a decade of marriage. It was an unconventional role in an unusual film for the veteran icon.
SUSHOBHAN in MAYURAKSHI (2017)
Atanu Ghosh’s poignant father-son relationship drama casts Soumitra as Sushobhan, an 83-year-old former professor of history suffering from geriatric dementia and cognitive dysfunction. When his son Aryanil (played by Prosenjit Chatterjee) visits from Chicago, Sushobhan believes Aryanil is still in his youth and has returned from a cricket match in Lucknow.