The Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema, Suchitra Sen was a legendary Indian actress whose illustrious life came to a close in January 2014. She is known for her memorable roles in Bengali movies such as Uttar Falguni and Deep Jwele Jaai, as well as Hindi ones like Mamta, Bombay ka Babu, Aandhi, among others. She had the distinction of being the first Bengali actress to be rewarded in an international festival (The Moscow Film Festival of 1963).
Birth and Education
Suchitra Sen was born on 6 April 1931 in what is today the Pabna District in Bangladesh, where she had her early formal education. Her father was headmaster in a local school while her mother was a homemaker.
She was married in 1947 to a Bengali industrialist, Dibanath Sen, and had a daughter whom they named Moon Moon Sen. The year 1952 saw her remarkable entry into the Bengali cinema, although some maintain that it fractured her personal life beyond mending.
Sen's debut movie was Shesh Kothaay, but unfortunately it was never released. However, Sharey Chuattor, launched next year in 1953, was a different story. The movie became an instant hit and her pairing with actor Uttam Kumar spawned a whole genre in itself which would recur in Bengali cinema for the next two decades. Indubitably, this made her the most famous Bengali actress ever.
Her first Hindi movie was Devdas (1955), which brought recognition of her acting skills in the form of Best Actress award. But perhaps the most worthy recognition was the nomination in Filmfare Award for Best Actress, for the movie Aandhi (1974), which was based on the life of Indira Gandhi.
Deep Jwele Jaai, released in 1959, is considered her best performance, in which she plays a nurse torn between a near-impossible duty and the pull of emotions.
Sen retired from the movies in 1978, and spent the rest of her in strict seclusion. As a result, not much is known about this part of her life.
In 2012 she was honoured with Banga Bibhushan, West Bengal's highest award, for her contribution to the Bengali cinema.
Suchitra Sen passed away on 17 January 2014 in Kolkata of a heart attack. She had been admitted to the hospital following an infection, which worsened and got out of control.
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