Saumitra Chatterjee is one of the most talented actor and probably the most acknowledged one internationally from Bengal. The later is due to his appearance in many of Satyajit Ray’s movies. He is to the films of Satyajit Ray what Toshiro Mifune was to the films of Akira Kurosawa or Marcello Mastroianni to Federico Fellini. Saumitra appeared in 15 of the 34 films made by Ray.
Born in 1935, Saumitra graduated from Calcutta University with honors in literature. First appeared in film in 1959; it was Apu-r Sansar (The World of Apu), the final film of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu Trilogy’. Saumitra acted in the role of a young man ‘Apu’ who experiences the turmoil of life. His work in this film gave him a distinct place in the heart of cinema lovers. This place was evenly firmed when he portrayed the ever popular character of Feluda in Ray’s thriller Sonar Kella in the mid seventies. Ray made three films based on the works of Tagore and incidentally Saumitra acted in all of them – Charulata, Samapti (in Teen Kanya) and Ghare Baire. Apart from Ray, Saumitra acted with other prominent film directors such as Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha. Saumitra displayed same level of excellence in regular commercial movies as well as in parallel film.
Saumitra acts, writes and directs plays in Bengali theatre. He had the honor of sharing stage with legendary stage personalities like Sisir Kumar Bhaduri in the early days (role of Suresh in Prafulla) of his career. Saumitra reads and writes poetry and has a distinct place in the arena of Bengali poetry recitation. He also acts in television and in folk dramas (Jatra s).
Saumitra received the ‘The Officier des Arts et Metiers’, the highest award for arts from France, lifetime achievement award from Italy. He is probably the only Indian actor to have a full-length documentary devoted to him by any Westerner – French director Catherine Berge made a documentary film titled ‘Tree’ on his life. He refused ‘Padmasree’ from India Govt. in the seventies. Recently he was awarded with ‘Padma Bhusan’ by President of India. But the best award for him is probably the love and the special place in the heart of film lovers.