MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA FEBRUARY 18, 2014 09.20 P.M.
The year was 1967 or 1968. The city was Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. And the cinema hall , if my memory is not failing me , was Ajanta Talkies at Zero Road. I , along with few of my friends, went to watch a Dilip Kumar starrer black & white film ” Devdas ” [ 1955 ] . I had read Sharat Chandra written immensely popular novel of the same name during my adolescent age in Deoria. I read it so many times and I was so infatuated, fascinated by the character of Devdas that even after so many decades , I vividly remember each and every thing about the novel and all the details of all the characters. In 1967 – 1968, when I went to watch the film, I could even recite the dialogues and paragraphs from the novel.
I had heard about myriads film avatars of Devdas, which were made in several Indian languages. Naturally Dilip Kumar starrer and Bimal Roy directed ” Devdas ” [ 1955 ] in Hindi was on the top of my list. It had Dilip Kumar portraying the male protagonist to the perfection. I had read various articles about his portrayal of the character. I also knew that Paro is being played by a Bengali actress called Suchitra Sen .
I entered and took my seat in the Ajanta cinema hall. Film started and Dilip Kumar’s arrival on the screen was greeted with thunderous applause. I got totally engrossed in the histrionics and persona of the thespian, the legendary tragedy king of Hindi cinema, ( the ) Dilip Kumar. I was waiting for Suchitra Sen to appear on the screen. Young Paro was played by baby Naaz. I was waiting with curiosity for Suchitra Sen to appear on the screen. She appeared on the screen …………
………….and behold !!!
I was smitten by her eyes. I was hooked to her beauty. I was enamoured by her personality. I was hypnotized by her voice. I was captivated for life by her screen persona. Apart from Waheeda Rehman, I have never admired any other actress so much.
Later on I watched Dev Anand and Suchitra Sen starrer ” Bombai Ka Baboo ” [ 1960 ] . Though an ordinary film but the climax of the film refused to fade away from my psyche for days and months. After so many decades , even today, it refuses to get obfuscated. Ah, her serene elegant persona, her haunting tear-filled eyes and the back-ground song in the voice of legendary Mukesh, ” Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche ; Kajra Na Beh Jayen Rote Rote ………. “ shook me permanently and became an eternal part of my being. Every drop of tear on her cheek is still fresh in my memory.
After above mentioned two films , I watched ” Mamta ” [ 1966 ] .1966 – 67 is the important year of my life. I passed high school. I left Deoria and went to Allahabad for higher studies. Slowly I started coming out of my cocoon. I started watching films regularly and started appreciating them also. I started spending hours and hours with my friends discussing films. And one day , I watched ” Mamta ” [ 1966 ] . I was a fan of Ashok Kumar. I was a fan of Suchitra Sen . And she was essaying a double role of mother and daughter in this film. She played it with perfection. It was one year before Dilip Kumar’s highly successful and much acclaimed double role in the film ” Ram Aur Shyam ” [ 1967 ] .
Needless to say that much later I watched ” Aandhi ” [ 1975 ] also . It is her last Hindi film. She was marvellous as usual. 3 years after the much acclaimed film ” Aandhi ” [ 1975 ] , she retired in 1978 and slowly faded from public life.
From ” Sharey Chuattor ” [ 1953 ] to ” Pronoy Pasha ” [ 1978 ] , she worked in 60 films in a career spanning 25 years. Out of her total 60 films , her Hindi films are only 7. These films are : ” Devdas ” [ 1955 ] , ” Musafir ” [ 1957 ] , ” Champakali ” [ 1957 ] , ” Bombai Ka Baboo ” [ 1960 ] , ” Sarhad ” [ 1960 ] , ” Mamta ” [ 1966 ] and ” Aandhi ” [ 1975 ] . Of all the 7 Hindi films of her, I have watched 4 films.
Her important and memorable Bengali films are : ” Sharey Chuattor ” [ 1953 ] , ” Sabar Uparey ” [ 1955 ] , ” Mejo Bou ” [ 1955 ] , ” Shilpi ” [ 1956 ] , ” Harano Sur ” [ 1957 ] , ” Pathe Holo Deri ” [ 1957 ] , ” Deep Jwele Jaai ” [ 1959 ] , ” Smriti Tuku Thaak ” [ 1960 ] , ” Saptapadi ” [ 1961 ] , ” Saat Paake Badha ” [ 1963 ] , ” Uttar Phalguni ” [ 1963 ] , ” Grihadaha ” [ 1967 ] , ” Alo Amaar Alo ” [ 1972 ] , ” Haar Maana Haar ” [ 1972 ] , ” Devi Chaudhurani ” [ 1974 ] , ” Datta ” [ 1976 ] and ” Pronoy Pasha ” [ 1978 ].
I have seen many of these films. I will specially mention Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen starrer ” Saptapadi ” [ 1961 ] . One number of this film is considered all time great romantic song ever in Bengali films. It is ” Ei poth jodi na shesh hoi …………….. Uttam Kumar on the bike and Suchitra Sen as pillion rider singing the immortal ” ………………. Ei poth jodi na shesh hoi ………………. ” .
Years later when I came to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] and became acting trainer, one day I got a call from Riya Sen. She wanted to get trained by me. I was ecstatic that I would be training legendary Suchitra Sen’s grand-daughter. I immediately went to her Juhu residence. I worked with her for few months. I met her sister Raima and mother Moon Moon Sen also. But I could not get a chance to meet legendary Suchitra Sen. Though I wanted to meet her desperately. But it was not destined.
She became recluse by each passing year. She came out of her house when Uttam Kumar died on July 24, 1980. After that day no one had seen her ever. It was 34 year-long reclusive life. It was 34 year-long self – imposed exile. But instead of fading from memory, it made her personality more enigmatic. Even after 34 years the aura remained undiminished. She went away from public gaze but never faded from public memory.
I used to ask Riya many questions about her grandmother. I wanted to know more and more mortal details about immortal Suchitra Sen. Riya was nonchalant. Initially her nonchalance baffled me, disappointed me. It never occurred to me that for me Suchitra Sen is an idol , an icon but for Riya , she is her grandmother. So her answers never matched my enthusiasm. I think she must have felt awkward by my intrusion.
Alas ! as is the inevitable for every human being, Suchitra Sen left this world for her celestial journey on January 17, 2014 . She died in Kolkata aged 82.
I was saddened beyond words. I am still numb. I was unable to write about her immediately, though I wanted to write desperately. Suchitra Sen is gone and with her departure my world of adolescent years has gone forever. It has crumbled. This void is not going to be filled easily. A world without Suchitra Sen is not the world for me. But ….. nothing could be done. Life will meander to complete its course. Life will slither with saddened soul.
On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my profound sorrow and grief. Life goes on and it will go on. But without Suchitra Sen, it will not be same again.
VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to offer condolences and express solidarity with Moon Moon Sen, Raima Sen and Riya Sen in this hour of grief.
As they say, they won’t make people like Suchitra Sen any more.
[ List of Suchitra Sen’s films is taken from Wikipedia. I express gratitude. ]
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
Filed under: Obituary Tagged: | Aandhi, Acting Institute, Acting Trainer, Ajanta Talkies, Allahabad, Alo Amaar Alo, Ashok Kumar, Baby Naaz, Bimal Roy, Bombai Ka Baboo, Chal Re Sajni Ab Kya Soche, Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche Kajra Na Beh Jayen Rote Rote, Champakali, Datta, Deep Jwele Jaai, Deoria, Dev Anand, Devdas, Devi Chaudhurani, Diction Trainer, Dilip Kumar, Double Role in Films, Ei Poth Jodi Na Shesh Hoi, Film, Grihadaha, Haar Maana Haar, Harano Sur, Hindi Devdas, Hindi Teacher, Kamal Nayan Chaturvedi, Mahanayika, Mahanayika Suchitra Sen, Maharashtra, Mamta, Mejo Bou, Moon Moon Sen, Mukesh, Mumbai, MUMBAI - MAHARASHTRA - INDIA, Musafir, Obituary, Paro, Paro - Devdas, Pathe Holo Deri, Pronoy Pasha, Raima Sen, Ram Aur Shyam, Riya Sen, Saat Paake Badha, Sabar Uparey, Saptapadi, Sarhad, Sharat Chandra, Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Sharey Chuattor, Shilpi, Smriti Tuku Thaak, Suchitra Sen, Tragedy King, Tragedy King Dilip Kumar, Uttam Kumar, Uttar Phalguni, Uttar Pradesh, Vidur, VIDUR Acting Institute, Vidur Chaturvedi, VIDUR Club, VIDUR Editing Studio, Vidur on Twitter, VIDUR Theatre, Vidur's Blog, Vidur's Students, Waheeda Rehman, Zero Road Allahabad