Five memorable roles of Suchitra Sen
I loved her in the role of the mother, not the daughter. I was very inspired by that character. Keeping that character in mind I had acted in a Prafulla Roy story — Dui Diganto — which was also about the struggle of a mother. Her journey from a courtesan to a mother was very touching. At that time she was at the peak of her career, playing only lead roles, yet she chose to play a mother. I always stress on the fact that age isn’t important to play any character for an actor.
I feel she chose characters with shades with a lot of care. A young nurse who falls for a doctor (Ashok Kumar) and decides to have their child out of wedlock was a story much ahead of its time. Suchitra Sen was very good, both as the nurse and the young mother. I liked her in these characters more, where there’s a journey of the character.
I loved her in Aandhi. I loved the film too. We got to see a very different Suchitra Sen — tough exterior but very fragile internally. Her chemistry with Sanjeev Kumar was great.
Deep Jwele Jai
I remember this film specially because of the song Ei raat tomar amaar. Here, too, I liked the transformation of her character from a nurse to a patient. Very different from the characters she was playing then.
Kamallata and Rajlakshmi O Srikanto
Both are similar in terms of her character. I loved her in Rajlakshmi O Srikanto, the only Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen film I love. She excelled as Rajlakshmi, the baiji and the protective lover.
Five romantic songs picturised on Suchitra Sen
Tumi je amaar (Harano Sur)
This song talks of purity, the essence of pure love and Suchitra Sen’s expressions were to die for. My parents say that the song was so famous in their time that lovers would sing this song to each other. Even married people sang this song to each other. I think it continues to influence lovers who still believe in the purity of love.
E sudhu gaaner din (Pathe Holo Deri)
Back then, songs played an important part in everybody’s life and this song became very famous. I remember I had gone to see Pathe Holo Deri with my parents.... It’s a very lilting song with a sweet flow. I play it at home and everyone seems to enjoy it, even my kids (daughter Rishona and son Ankan). These songs haunt you. They have such deep inner meanings. They don’t make it like them anymore.
Tere bina zindagi se koi (Aandhi)
A deadly combination of romance and pathos. People still hum it and it’s my favourite. When I am sad I listen to this song, when I am happy I listen to this song. I can never change the channel if it’s playing on TV.
Ei raat tomar amaar (Deep Jwele Jaai)
I mean just listen to the lyrics! Isn’t this the most romantic number ever created on earth? I think it’s still the best thing to whisper to the ears of your lover. It will never fade out, it will never become dated.
Ei sundaro swarnali sondhaye (Hospital)
The song was so beautifully shot. Suchitra Sen and Ashok Kumar singing this on a boat in magic light. A soft romantic number which, if you listen to once, you can’t stop humming.
MOON MOON SEN
She is my mother. She is my queen. I am what I am because of her. My strength comes from my beautiful mother.
She was the most glamorous heroine of her time. The grace, elegance, sophistication and poise she brought to Bengali cinema is missing today. My grandmother could pull off a Kamallata as well as a Devdas (where she played Paro). She was very versatile.
I love the way she did her lips. Her lips are as thin as mine and she would draw them thick. She also drew her brows. And I love her glamorous hairstyle. She looked as good in a bouffant as with open hair. She used to dress very stylishly too... her saris and the cut of her blouses. Each look she sported was a trend.
She’s also the strongest woman I’ve met.
It’s sad if people can’t respect someone else’s privacy. But no one can take away what my grandmother is and will always be.
She was the most beautiful actress of her time. She was so convincing in each and every role she did. I think she was unbeatable, yes unbeatable is the word for her.
My grandmother understands me without me having to speak up. She just understands me too well and even if I am not in the same city and I am travelling abroad she tells my mom, dad (Bharat Dev Varma) and sister that ‘I am sure she’s feeling like this now’ and that comes true. She knows me too well. She and I connect in a very religious way. We have a religious connection which is really strange.
One thing we have in common is bingeing in the evening. We would sometimes have fried egg toast and French fries. It was made by me for our secret evening binge! Grandmom and I have similar taste in food.
(From TT archives)
I was a character artiste, while Suchitra played romantic roles and Sabitri (Chatterjee) was more into comedies. Our acting styles were different and we occupied separate spheres which never clashed.
Apart from Debi Chaudhurani, I had done two other films with Mrs Sen which were stopped midway. In fact, my first film as Suchitra Sen’s hero was Chaturanga, directed by Purnendu Pattrea. It was shot before Debi Chaudhurani but got stalled when the producer passed away. The film that we started shooting after Debi Chaudhurani was Krishnakanter Will. It was directed by Dinen Gupta but was shelved after about a week of shooting.
Back then, I was a rank newcomer and Suchitra Sen was a star. I was a huge fan of Uttam-Suchitra during my college days and she was the woman of everyone’s dreams. It was a strange feeling to act opposite her. Quite naturally, I was in awe of her on the sets. But Mrs Sen made things very easy. She knew that her performance would suffer if her co-actor felt uncomfortable. So she would be quite friendly. But there was still a bit of uneasiness on my part.... What is still fresh in my memory is her tremendous dedication to work.
(From TT archives)
Suchitra Sen said...
Her chemistry with Uttam:
One could feel a certain comfort working with him. Juti gorte anek jot khulte hoyechhilo (A lot of effort went into making that pair).... If you don’t have a big heart, you can’t be a great actor. Uttam and Paharida (Sanyal) had big hearts.
Her tough roles:
I had to work very hard for Saptapadi.... Deep Jwele Jaai, too, made me think a lot... for the last scene. It’s very difficult for a sane person to play an insane person. A girl goes through a lot of pain emotionally and psychologically and becomes insane. I can’t explain how painful it was to express her emotions. There was another film, though a very ordinary one, which made me think hard. It was called Dhuli. While playing Bishnupriya (in Bhagaban Shree Krishna Chaitanya), I practically became Bishnupriya. I still remember one or two dialogues. There is this one dialogue I cannot forget, ‘Amaar abar Krishnaprem, ha Krishna!’
Her name change:
I got into films after my marriage. Almost three-four years after I got married (to Dibanath Sen), Nitish Roy changed my name to Suchitra Sen (from Rama). He was the secretary of Sukumar Dasgupta, the director. I don’t remember which film it was. One fine day he said, ‘From now on you will be known as Suchitra Sen in the film world.’... There was another dialogue by Bishnupriya: ‘Ek ange Radha-Krishna.’ Amaro ek ange Rama aar Suchitra Sen (I am both Rama and Suchitra Sen).
Her personal assessment:
None of the films I did was satisfactory to me. I’ve watched my films along with the audience many times and dissected every aspect. I’ve come home and reflected on them a lot. And every time I told myself that I would make up for it in the next film. But every time I felt something was lacking. I felt I should have done better.
I may be alone but I never feel lonely. I don’t understand why everybody is so bothered about my being lonely! I’ve said earlier that though I am alone, I am not lonely. So many people come to see me every day. I meet them, interact with them, laugh and cry with them. And so I’m not lonely.
(Excerpts translated from Gopal Krishna Roy’s Suchitrar Katha, published by Ananda, 1992)