January 17, 2014
Legendary actress Suchitra Sen’s last rites have been conducted at Kolkata’s Keoratola crematorium. She was given a gun salute by the West Bengal government, as announced by chief minister Mamata Banerjee earlier today. The actress, one of the leading lights of the golden age of Bengali cinema, died of a heart attack in Kolkata’s Belle Vue Clinic today. She was 82.
Suchitra Sen’s grand-daughters, actresses Riya and Raima Sen was at the late star’s funeral.
Mamata Banerjee, a frequent visitor while the actress was in hospital, officially announced Ms Sen’s death, saying: “The passing away of ‘Mahanayika’ (great actress), I feel in world cinema and in Bengali cinema is a big and sad news. Such a talent is born only once and there is no parallel. Today is extremely saddening for us. We have lost someone important today.”
Ms Banerjee was the only public figure to have been admitted into the reclusive star’s presence in the last 35 years.
She also said that Ms Sen’s family had requested that they be allowed to carry out the last rites in peace.
The actress had been in hospital since December 23, being treated for a respiratory tract infection. She was dependent on oxygen support and grown very weak over the last few days.
Ms Sen began her career with the unreleased Bengali film Shesh Kothai in 1952 and is known to Hindi film audiences for her roles in Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955) and Gulzar’s Aandhi (1975). With actor Uttam Kumar, she made up one-half of Bengali cinema’s most beloved screen couple, delivering hit films such as Harano Sur, Sagarika, Chaowa Paowa and Agnipariksha.
Suchitra Sen most acclaimed performances were in the Bengali films Dweep Jele Jaai (1959), in which she played a psychiatric nurse involved with a male patient, and Uttar Falguni (1963), in which she played the double roles of a courtesan and her lawyer daughter.
Ms Sen was also the first Indian actress to be awarded at an international film festival, winning Best Actress for Saptapadi at the Moscow Film Festival in 1963.
After her 1978 movie Pronoy Pasha flopped, Suchitra Sen retired from public life, living a life so reclusive that she allegedly refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005 because it meant making a public appearance.
Suchitra Sen was married to Dibanath Sen, scion of one of Kolkata’s most prominent business families. She is survived by her daughter Moon Moon and grand-daughters Raima and Riya, all three actresses.