When Soumitra Chatterjee debuted in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar in 1959—the final part of Ray’s Apu trilogy—a star was born in Bengali cinema. Soumitra soon transcended the boundaries of the Bengali film industry to become an internationally celebrated actor who was compared to the best in the business, from Max von Sydow to Marcello Mastroianni. Famously known as ‘Ray’s actor’, in a career spanning six decades, Soumitra worked with practically every Bengali director worth the name— Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha, Chidananda Dasgupta, Aparna Sen, Tarun Majumdar, Rituparno Ghosh and Goutam Ghose, to name but a few.
Following Apur Sansar, Soumitra played the lead in another Ray film, Devi, in 1960. From then until the posthumously released Abhijan and Belashuru (2022), the more than 300 films in which he acted rank among the best in Bengali cinema, and won him a string of awards, including the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1999), the Padma Bhushan (2004), the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2012) and the Legion d’Honour awarded by the French Government (2018). But it was not just on the silver screen that Soumitra shone. He was also an accomplished playwright and theatre actor, a poet, a painter, the literary editor of the magazine, Ekshan, and an elocutionist.
Soumitra Chatterjee: His Life in Cinema and Beyond, is the first comprehensive attempt to portray the life of the actor in all its facets. It traces Soumitra’s initial years of searching for identities to the final decades when he reached the pinnacle of his career as an actor and an artist. Written from the vantage point of someone who shared an exceptionally close relationship with the actor, film journalist Amitava Nag has drawn an intimate portrait of the star thespian and his art beyond acting, which will be essential reading for his legion of fans, and for all those interested in cinema.