Suchitra Sens 3rd death anniversary
jamuna news desk: Suchitra Sen was easily the most popular actress that Bengali cinema has ever seen. Her ethereal beauty coupled with her phenomenon screen presence and immense box office popularity, particularly her on-screen pairing with the late Uttam Kumar, gave her a legendary cult status in Bengal.
She in fact created a new image in Bengali cinema of the articulate if tragic heroine carving out an independence space outside that of family and tradition. Today marks the 3rd death anniversary of Suchitra Sen.
She was born Roma Sen, it is said, in 1931. Her film debut was in the unreleased Shesh Kothai made in 1952. The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar for the first time in Sharey Chuattar. The film, an effervescent comedy, was also the breakthrough film of director Nirmal Dey and was a huge hit at the box-office. However, it is today remembered more for launching the pair of Kumar and Sen.
She retired from the screen in 1978 and had since went into almost Greta Garbo like seclusion. A devotee of Ramakrishna Mission, Suchitra immersed herself in meditation and prayer. Her outdoor visits were confined to Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission.
Suffering from a lung infection, Suchitra Sen was hospitalized on December 23rd, 2013. She died on January 17, 2014 due to cardiac arrest. Her daughter Moon Moon Sen and granddaughters Riya and Raima are all actresses as well.
They went on to become icons of Bengali romantic melodramas for more than twenty years becoming almost a genre into themselves. Their films were famous for the soft-focus close ups of the stars particularly Sen and lavishly mounted scenes of romance against windswept expanses and richly decorated interiors with fluttering curtains and such mnemonic objects as bunches of tube roses etc. Some popular films of the pair include Shap Mochan (1955), Sagarika (1956), Harano Sur (1957), Indrani (1958), Chaowa-Paowa (1959), Saptapadi (1961), Bipasha (1962) and Grihadaha (1967).
One of Suchitra's best known performances was in Deep Jweley Jai (1959). She played Radha, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, and is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved oedipal dilemma -the inevitable consequence for men denied a nurturing woman. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as earlier in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury's violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love yet again. In the end even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is full of beautiful often partly lit close ups of Sen which set the tone of the film and is aided by a mesmerizing performance by her. Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role.
But perhaps Suchitra's biggest histrionic triumph was Saat Pake Bandha (1963). She played Archana who tries to overcome her domineering and snobbish mother (powerfully played by veteran Chhaya Devi) by marrying Sukhendu a serious University Lecturer played by Soumitra Chatterjee. However the mother continues to interfere reminding her son-in-law of his poverty. Suffering from divided loyalties.
While her supremacy in Bengal was unquestioned, Suchitra's forays into Hindi Cinema were far too infrequent and comparatively less successful. It is hard to fathom the reason for this. While her screen presence in her Hindi films was as stunning as ever, perhaps because of language problems, some of her performances look a trifle stilted and reined in.