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Hearts skip a beat as ‘smile icon’ bids adieu
- Playmate recalls childhood days at Suchitra’s maternal grandfather’s Gardanibagh house

An actress who drove fans to a frenzy on Fridays left them sobbing on the same day.

Suchitra Sen (82), who defined womanhood with panache on screen, breathed her last in Calcutta but a few kilometres from the Bengal capital, her aficionados believe it’s a loss for the entire country.

One such fan was 89-year-old Dilip Sen. He said: “I have fond memories of the woman with a different smile.”

“I used to play with Suchitra at her maternal grandfather’s residence in Gardanibagh. She was four years old when she had visited Patna in 1935. She used to stay at her grandfather’s government quarters in Gardanibagh. He was posted at the Secretariat that time. My father, late S.N. Sen, was her family physician. She was in Patna for two years and then shifted to Calcutta. No one can forget her smile,” said Dilip, the managing director of Sen Diagnostics.

Asked about any one-on-one meeting with the actress after she became a star, Dilip said: “Childhood days were different when we used to call her Roma. I once got an opportunity to meet her at Belur Math (the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission). She used to visit the place quite often to meet Bharat Maharaj. At the math, I got an opportunity to meet her in 1970.”

“She looked very calm. I admired her because she was not only a good artiste but also a great human being. The news of her death is distressing. It was shocking because I have seen her, met her and admired her. I feel privileged because my family was associated with the legendary actor. She will never fade away from our memories,” he said.

Apart from personal fondness, there were thousands who drooled over her acting skills. The chairman and managing director of Regent cinema, Suman Kumar Sinha, remembers her 1975 superhit Aandhi, which ran for eight weeks in Patna.

“Sanjeev Kumar was already a big name by then. On top of that, Suchitra Sen had given the best performance of her life in the film. People had previously seen her in Bimal Roy’s Devdas opposite Dilip Kumar but Aandhi was a film that created a flutter as well as an impact. The ticket price at that time was Rs 6.45,” said the 57-year-old.

Aandhi, which was scheduled to release in 1974, was released in 1975, the same year Sanjeev Kumar’s Sholay was released.


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