As children, they saw Pather Panchali and later on, Aparajito, Apur Sansar and classics the world over. Both of them eventually grew up on cinema even as their father took care of them, encouraged them and nurtured their individual passions. Sitting at the Windows office, having watched Belashuru with sister Poulami Bose, Saugata Chatterjee — son of Soumitra Chatterjee — was all nostalgia. He loved Belashuru more than Belaseshe, which released in 2015. He reasoned, “I loved Belashuru. I had earlier watched Belaseshe, which I really liked. But I loved this film more. I found poetry in it; poetry that comes from life. Also, I liked human life and its incalculable complexities that found reflection in this film through its various characters. Of course, the songs are nice, the actors have performed well and Swatilekha Sengupta is gorgeous. Also, I am watching one of my father’s last films and that way it is special.”
Saugata said the actor in his father could slip into any character and that made him special. “My father acted in multiple characters. It’s not that he only played the romantic hero,” he argued. But in both Belaseshe and Belashuru, his romantic side was explored rather realistically. “In these two films, the love is more mature; it is not about two youngsters falling for each other. There’s a lot of love in partnership, in between two elderly people. That has been very successfully emulated by the lead actors,” added Saugata.
All praise for Belashuru, Saugata said he is hopeful that the film will create more awareness amongst people regarding Alzheimer’s. “There have not been many many serious films on Alzheimer’s. But it’s a serious problem today. My jyethu (Soumitra Chatterjee’s elder brother) had Alzheimer’s and he eventually passed away. As far as I remember, even my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. But what has been discussed in this film is the way one should be taking care of the Alzheimer’s patients. That’s a very important thing and it can create awareness amongst people. I hope those who have watched Belashuru will not make snide comments like ‘altu, faltu, pagol’ towards Alzheimer’s patients any longer and will try to understand them,” he reflected.
Saugata said he could feel for his father’s character in the film. “I liked it where Biswanath is trying to understand his wife. He is doing his best to take care of her, feed her, and at the same time, dealing with the differences that are created with his children,” said Saugata, whose favourite scene in the film is when the family travels to Faridpur in Bangladesh.
“I loved the part where Arati is talking about Faridpur, her memory of the place is slowly coming back. The family decides to go to Faridpur to help her remember bits of her life that she seems to have lost. Finally, Arati and the rest land up in Faridpur. For me, it’s like going back to the roots for an entire generation. At that time, we knew Purba Banga as Purba Banga. It was not Bangladesh. Both the Bangas were one country. In fact, many of us left our past in Purba Banga. Quite a few of our relatives came from Purba Banga. Arati’s meeting with Atindrada touched a raw nerve. She was shown the kantha woven by her grandmother by Atindrada and it moved me. I also loved the song rendered by a boy on the boat,” recalled Saugata.
Not stopping at that, he said he was also moved by Arati’s plea to Biswanath. “She asks, ‘Can you find my husband and Biswanath says I make a promise to you that I will bring your husband back.’ That tugged at the heartstrings,” he said. He maybe a doting son, but Saugata is one of the many Bangalis echoing similar thoughts when he said, to learn about Bengali cinema, one needs to watch films by Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee. “They are rare stars of Bengali cinema. Swatilekha Sengupta is a powerhouse performer. To know and learn acting, to know people like my father, to know what power-packed performances are, this film is what people will have to resort to,” said Saugata, his eyes twinkling with memories of his father. Memories that are forever.