As I shut my eyes to imagine what I could possibly write about someone whom the whole world has possibly already written everything about, I felt like a mere mortal being trying to define what a goddess of silver screen stands for.
It was too difficult to imagine as too many familiar images started pouring in — Rina Brown, Rajlakshmi, Prafulla, Dr Roma Banerjee, Romola... to name a few. Finally I realised that this familiarity is what is preventing me to be objective. I realised Suchitra Sen is what I have unknowingly been fed as a staple diet through films, magazines and in our colloquial terms as ‘Uttam-Suchitra’.
What quintessentially is the Bengali woman’s style today was defined way earlier by her. I understood this when I called up my mother to ask her about Suchitra Sen’s style. Without the slightest hesitation she rolled out her thoughts on the side-parting of Saptapadi’s Rina Brown! It was unheard of in those times.
Blouses with elbow-length sleeves with simple white saris with black borders, to sleeveless blouses with chiffons and a bouffant for an awards ceremony, or the Kanjeevaram with a mop chain for Moon Moon’s wedding… My mom went on without a pause. I only had a brief idea about what influence she had on the women of that era. But from what I just heard, I realised she left an even deeper mark.
One reason of my becoming a fashion designer can be credited to this one lady (apart from my mother) who ruled my early childhood. Those were the days of Doordarshan when Saptahiki was a pure joy to watch and you would plan your evenings accordingly. I would look forward to the films shown every week. With eyes wide open, I’d wait to watch, well, Uttam-Suchitra.
Her general sense of style was much evolved beyond her years, when we get to see snippets of her personal life through photographs. Whether her poise in her swimming costumes or saris, all of it spoke of a special style sense. And of restraint.
Her ability to switch off from public life at the peak of her career speaks of how much self-control she had.
Her half-open smile still remains etched in our memories, as does her side glance which is now known as the 3/4th pose. It was mastered by her.
All of what is Bengali beauty today was etched by her carefully during that era. My ode to her will always be in reverence and in awe of what she stands for till her last breath.
Nil is a fashion designer based in Calcutta