Saturday Fare


Suchitra Sen

Roma Dasgupta, who later transformed into “Suchitra Sen” was encouraged by her husband to make a foray into the world of films. Her journey started with an offer of a recording studio in the Park Street, where she was introduced as Roma Sen. But that assignment was shelved out in favour ofthe female lead in a film to be directed by Sukumar Dasgupta, a noted film-maker of those times.

She was put through a screen test. The film was “Saat Number Koyedi”. One of his assistants, Nitish Roy (not the Mumbai-based production designer), reincarnated this new actress Suchitra. In 1952, she signed three more films; “Saare Chuattar” (director: Nirmal Dey), “Kajori” (director: Niren Lahiri), and “Bhagawan Sri Sri Krishna Chaitanya” (director: Debaki Bose). There were a very less number of people in the industry who could call her Roma and Uttam Kumar, Asit Choudhury, and Anil Bandopadhyay were some of them, who were influential in her life and career. In the Bengali film industry, she is referred as ‘Madam’ or ‘Mrs Sen’. This ‘Madam’ was born on 6 April, in Pabna, originally in the northern parts of undivided Bengal, which is now in Bangladesh.

She was the fifth child. She had an early marriage, in 1947, to Dibanath Sen, whose family later on migrated to Kolkata. Suchitra is perhaps the first Indian actress in Bengal to have made her film debut after marriage and motherhood. Dibanath wished his wife to be a part of the cultural world and found some links with Bimal Roy through his father Adinath Sen, which ultimately led to the recording studio event, and Saat Number Koyedi.

Her debut was with “Shesh Kothai” in 1952, but the film was unreleased. The following year saw her act opposite to Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor. The film became a box-office hit and it was remembered for launching Uttam- Suchitra as a leading pair, which became the icons for Bengali melodramas for 20+ years. She received a Best Actress Award for the film “Devdas” (1955), her first Hindi movie.While climbing on the ladder of success, at one point of time, Suchitra became the most sought-after actress, which later led to her separation from her husband, but she took the responsibility of her daughter Moon Moon.

A slice of her reality was revealed in the portrayal of Archana in “Saat Paake Bandha” for which she received the Best Actress award in 1963 Moscow film festival – first ever Indian actress to win this. Sadly though, she never got the chance to work with Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. She was a contender for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2005, but her refusal to go to Delhi and personally receive the award from the President of India deprived her of that award. She retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years and devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission.