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Actor Soumitra Chatterjee and singer Geetasri Sandhya Mukhopadhyay were felicitated at EZCC recently, by each other. The platform was provided by Desham, an NGO that works for the underprivileged, but to hand over the mementoes Desham could think of no others but the icons themselves.

“Soumitra is like my brother”, said Mukhopadhyay, upon receiving a memento. “When I first met him he used to work for All India Radio. How nice he looked in his white dhoti and panjabi that day!” Mukhopadhyay was all praise for Chatterjee’s performances in films like Apur Sansar and Joy Baba Felunath. “Satyajit Ray would get the best out of him.”

A documentary on the life of Chatterjee, titled Glimpses of a Genius and made by filmmaker Shankar Majumdar, was then screened. Thereafter it was Chatterjee’s turn to felicitate Mukhopadhyay. An emotional Chatterjee said: “I am being invited to a lot of felicitations after winning the Dadasaheb Phalke award but today is special as I am being honoured by one of the greatest artistes of our time. I thank Sandhya di for her compliments and ask her to continue inspiring us.” He also thanked the audience for appreciating him for over 50 years. “I dedicate my award to the audience.”

The audience was a star-studded one with the likes of actor-politicians Tapas Pal, Debasree Roy, Chiranjit Chakraborty, singer-politician Anup Ghoshal, singer Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, actress Locket Chatterjee and beautician Keya Mukherjee. Some of them were welcomed on stage too. Roy commended the work of the NGO and spoke of her own group that works for stray animals. Anup Ghoshal delighted the audience by singing a few lines of the song, Aha Ki Anondo Akashe Batashe from Satyajit Ray’s film Hirak Rajar Deshe.

Grants were also awarded to representatives of social groups Saroj Gupta Cancer Centre & Research Institute, Vikrant Scouts & Guides Group, Thalassaemia Society of India and Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammilani. Maharaj Utsav Bhai of Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha Adyapeath and Mrinal Sardar, councillor of Rajarhat-Gopalpur Municipality, received financial aid to buy books for needy children in his locality.

Retired justice Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee, who is the president of Desham, pointed our that the NGO also worked for the conservation of animals, in association with the Simlipal Tiger Project. The organisation’s website was also inaugurated.

The event took place in the evening on May 27, when Kolkata Knight Riders was to take on Chennai Super Kings for the IPL finals. At around 8.30pm, after Sandhya Mukhopadhyay had sung Se Toh Ajke Noy, part of the audience got fidgety. “CSK has won the toss,” announced an excited Gautam Mullick reading the update on his mobile phone screen. His wife agreed to leave after Kharaj Mukherjee’s songs and jokes to let him watch the match.