Soumitra Chatterjee, one of India’s most celebrated actors, died at a private hospital in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata on Sunday, after contracting Covid last month. He was 85.
“We declare with heavy heart that Shri Soumitra Chattopadhyay breathed his last at 12.15 pm (IST) at Belle Vue Clinic today (15 November 2020). We pay our homage to his soul,” the hospital said in an official statement.
Chatterjee had been undergoing treatment at the hospital since October 6 after testing positive for coronavirus a day before. Though his condition initially improved after receiving plasma therapy, it started worsening as days passed.
Chatterjee was the favourite of India’s Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray. He made his debut with Ray’s Apur Sansar (Apu’s Family) in 1959. He went on to act in 14 more of Ray’s films, including masterpieces like Devi, Charulata, Ghare Baire and Feluda, the detective.
“Satyajit Ray made me what I am today. Had the director not been a great artist like Satyajit Ray, I wouldn’t have been able to perform so well,” Chatterjee had said in an interview.
The actor’s last big film was Sanjhbati in 2019. Apart from acting, he also directed and acted in plays and penned poetry. In 2001, he had turned down a state award for best actor to protest against what he called the “bias” of the awards committee.
Chatterjee got India’s top film honour, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, in 2012. He also won three National Awards and the Legion of Honour by France, the European country’s top civilian award. In 1989, Satyajit Ray got the same award.