Suchitra Sen

Suchitra Sen

Suchitra Sen as Paro in Bimal Roy's Devdas (1955)
Native name সুচিত্রা সেন
Born Roma Dasgupta
(1931-04-06)6 April 1931
Pabna, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now in Bangladesh)
Died 17 January 2014(2014-01-17) (aged 82)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Cause of death Heart attack
Nationality Indian
Years active 1952–1979
Notable work Saat Pake Badha
Sharey Chuattor
Harano Sur
Deep Jele Jai
Mamta (1966 film)
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Dibanath Sen (1947–1970 till his death)
Children Moon Moon Sen
Awards Padma Shri, Banga Bibhushan

Suchitra Sen (Bengali: সুচিত্রা সেন) (Bengali pronunciation: [ʃuːtʃiːraː ʃeːn]  listen ) (born as Roma Dasgupta) ( listen ; 6 April 1931 – 17 January 2014) was an Indian film actress who worked in Bengali and Hindi cinema. The movies in which she was paired opposite Uttam Kumar became classics in the history of Bengali cinema.[1]

Sen was the first Indian actress to receive an award at an international film festival when, at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival, she won the Silver Prize for Best Actress for playing a disillusioned alcoholic in Saptapadi.[2][3] In 1972, she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of the highest civilian awards in India.[4] From 1979 on, she retreated from public life and shunned all forms of public contact; for this she is often compared to Greta Garbo.[5][6] In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest cinematic award in India, to stay out of the public eye.[7] In 2012, she was conferred the West Bengal Government's highest honour: Banga Bibhushan.[8]

Personal life and education

Suchitra Sen was born in Sen Bhanga Bari village of Belkuchi Upazila, now in Sirajgonj District, Greater Pabna in the present day Pabna District of Bangladesh, on 6 April 1931.[9][10] Her father Late Karunamoy Dasgupta was the headmaster of the local school and her mother Late Indira Devi was a homemaker. She was their fifth child and third daughter. Ms Sen is a Grand Daughter of Famous Poet Sree Rajonikant Sen.[11] She received her formal education in Pabna. Partition brought her family and her to West Bengal,[12] where she married Dibanath Sen, son of wealthy industrialist Adinath Sen, in 1947,[13] and had one daughter, Moon Moon Sen, who is a former actress. Her father-in-law, Adinath Sen, was supportive of her acting career in films after her marriage.[14] Her industrialist husband invested a lot in her career initially and supported her in all possible ways.[15]

Sen had made a successful entry into Bengali films in 1952, and then a less successful transition into the Hindi movie industry. According to persistent but unconfirmed reports in the Bengali press, her marriage was strained by her success in the film industry .[16]


Suchitra Sen made her debut in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but it was never released.[17] The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor, a film by Nirmal Dey. It was a box-office hit and is remembered for launching Uttam-Suchitra as a leading pair. They went on to become the icons for Bengali dramas for more than 20 years, becoming almost a genre unto themselves.[18] She has acted in 30 of her 60 films with Uttam Kumar. She received a Best Actress Award nomination for the film Devdas (1955), which was her first Hindi movie. Her Bengali melodramas and romances, especially with Uttam Kumar, made her the most famous Bengali actress ever.[19] Her pairing with Bengal’s King of Hearts Uttam Kumar created classic romantic hits (Agnipariksha, Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Pathey Holo Deri, Kamal Lata, Indrani, Sabar Upore, Suryatoran, Shaare Chuattor, Sadanander Mela, Jiban Trishna, Ekti Raat, Chaawa Paawa, Shapmochan, Bipasha, Naborag, Trijama, Rajlakshmi Srikanto, Har Mana Har, Alo Amar Alo, Ora Thakey Odhare, Grihaprabesh and others) that have enjoyed ageless popularity and are watched, loved and admired even to this day.

The skyrocketing popularity of this romantic pair created a benchmark that remains unchallenged to this day. No other romantic pair in Bengali cinema in the subsequent decades have been able to match up to the magic created by Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar.[20]

It must be mentioned here that much of the duo’s popularity was contributed by the songs that showed them together. The team of Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, Geeta Dutt was a very successful combination that brought melody and romance in the perfect tandem of melodrama that was portrayed in the Uttam Suchitra movies so effortlessly. Songs like Ei poth jodi na sesh hoye from Saptapadi, Tumi je amar from Harano Sur showcase their effortless chemistry with each other, immortalizing them in the hearts of their fans.[21]

Her films ran through the 1960s and '70s. She continued to act in films even after her husband died in 1970 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, such as in the Hindi film Aandhi (1974). Aandhi was inspired by India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[22] Sen received a Filmfare Award nomination as Best Actress, while Sanjeev Kumar, who played the role of her husband, won the Filmfare as Best Actor.[23]

One of her best known performances was in Deep Jwele Jaai (1959). She played in a character name Radha Mitra, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, who is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved Oedipal dilemma. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury's violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love again. In the end, even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is noted for its partly lit close-ups of Sen, which set the tone of the film.[24] Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969) with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role.[25]

Suchitra Sen's other landmark film with Asit Sen was Uttar Falguni (1963). She plays the dual role of a courtesan, Pannabai, and her daughter Suparna, a lawyer. Critics note that she brought a great deal of poise, grace and dignity to the role of a fallen woman determined to see her daughter grow up in a good, clean environment.[26][27][28]

Suchitra Sen's international success came in 1963, when she won the best actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for the movie Saat Paake Bandha, becoming the first Indian actress to receive an international film award.[29]

There is a scene in Saat Paake Bandha where Suchitra Sen has to tear the vest that Soumitra is wearing. Later, at a party thrown to celebrate the film's success, she did a repeat of the scene and tore Soumitra's shirt, much to the amazement of those present. Something that no one but her, could have even imagined doing in that age![30]

A film critic summed up Suchitra Sen's career and continuing legacy as "one half of one of Indian cinema's most popular and abiding screen pairs, Suchitra Sen redefined stardom in a way that few actors have done, combining understated sensuality, feminine charm and emotive force and a no-nonsense gravitas to carve out a persona that has never been matched, let alone surpassed in Indian cinema"[31]

In retirement

Smritituku Thak a tribute to Sen at the Kolkata Book Fair in 2014. 29 Jan 2014.

Suchitra Sen refused Satyajit Ray's offer due to a scheduling problem. As a result, Ray never made the film Devi Chaudhurani based on the novel written by Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya. She also refused Raj Kapoor's offer for a film under the RK banner.[32]

Sen continued to act after her husband's death in 1970, but called it a day when Pronoy Pasha flopped,[33] and retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion. She was to do a film project Nati Binodini, also starring Rajesh Khanna,[34] but the film was shelved mid-way after shooting when she decided to quit acting.

She assiduously avoided the public gaze after her retirement and devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission.[9]


Suchitra Sen remembrance at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata. 19 Jan 2014.

Suchitra Sen was admitted to the hospital on 24 December 2013 and was diagnosed with a lung infection. She was reported to have been recovering well in the first week of January.[35] She died at 8.25 am on 17 January 2014, due to a heart attack.[36][37]

Suchitra Sen's death was condoled by many leaders, including the President of India Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and B.J.P.'s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.[38] A gun salute was given before her cremation, upon the orders of Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal.[39]

Respecting her fierce desire for complete privacy, her last rites were performed at Kolkata's Kaioratola crematorium, barely five and half hours after she died, with her coffin reaching the crematorium in a flower decked hearse with dark-tinted windows. Despite being Bengal's greatest star, referred to as "Mahanayika", she had consciously chosen to step into oblivion and she remained an enigma till her last, although thousands of fans had converged at the crematorium to catch one last glimpse of their idol. Her entire medical treatment had also been done in seclusion and secrecy.[40]


From 1953 to 1978, both in Bengali and Hindi, Suchitra Sen acted in 61 films.Among them 22 were blockbusters,13 were superhits,5 made profits above the average and the rest flopped.

Suchitra Sen filmography by year
No Year Movie Release Date Role Director Hero Notes
1 1952 Shesh Kothay Unreleased The film didn't release.
2 1953 Saat Number Kayedi 7 Feb 1953 Sukumar Dasgupta Samar Roy This was her first officially released film.
3 1953 Sharey Chuattor 20 Feb 1953 Romola Nirmal Dey Uttam Kumar First hit of legendary "Uttam-Suchitra's" super hit movie in Bengali
4 1953 Bhagaban Srikrishna Chaitanya 11 Dec 1953 Bishnupriya Debaki Bose Basanta ChaudhuryFirst hit of legendary "Basanta-Suchitra" pair.
5 1953 Kajori 10 April 1953 Niren Lahiri No major hero
6 1954 Atom Bomb 1 Jan 1954 Taru Mukherjee Robin Majumdar She appeared as an extra in this film. It was shot in 1951 but released in 1954. Sabitri Chatterjee was the actual heroin of this small film
7 1954 Ora Thaake Odhare 5 Feb 1954 Nilu Sukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
8 1954 Dhuli 3 Jun 1954 Minati Pinaki Mukherjee Prasanta Kumar
9 1954 Maraner Parey 25 Jun 1954 Tanima Satish Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
10 1954 Sadanander Mela 16 Jul 1954 Sheela Sukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
11 1954 Annapurnar Mandir 6 Aug 1954 Sati Naresh Mitra Uttam Kumar
12 1954 Agnipariksha 3 Sep 1954 Taposhi Agradoot Uttam Kumar
13 1954 Grihaprabesh 12 Nov 1954 Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar
14 1954 Balaygras 17 Dec 1954 Manimala
15 1955 Sanjher Pradip 28 Jan 1955 Raju Sudhanshu Mukherjee Uttam Kumar
16 1955 Devdas Parvati (Paro) Bimal Roy Dilip Kumar Second Hindi language film Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel "Devdas"
17 1955 Snaajhghar 11 Mar 1955
18 1955 Shapmochan 27 May 1955 Madhuri Shudhir Mukherjee Uttam Kumar Suchitra-Uttam starring first Box Office Superhit Movie
19 1955 Mejo Bou 30 Sep 1955
20 1955 Bhalabaasa 6 Oct 1955 Basanta Chaudhury
21 1955 Sabar Uparey 1 Dec 1955 Rita Agradoot Uttam Kumar Based on A.J. Cronin's 1953 novel, "Beyond This Place"
22 1956 Sagarika 1 Feb 1956 Sagarika Agradoot Uttam Kumar
23 1956 Subharaatri 30 Mar 1956 Basanta Chaudhury
24 1956 Ekti Raat 11 May 1956 Santana Chitta Bose Uttam Kumar
25 1956 Trijama 28 June 1956 Swarupa Agradoot Uttam Kumar
26 1956 Shilpi 30 Nov 1956 Anjana Agragami Uttam Kumar
27 1956 Amar Bou 14 Dec 1956 Bikash Roy
28 1957 Harano Sur 6 Sep 1957 Dr. Roma Banerjee Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar Based on James Hilton's immortal Novel "Random Harvest" a 1942 Hollywood Hit movie starring Ronald Colman and Greer Garson
29 1957 Chandranath 15 Nov 1957 Saraju Kartik Chattopadhyay Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel "Chandranath".
30 1957 Pathe Holo Deri 5 Dec 1957 Mallika Banerjee Agradoot Uttam Kumar
31 1957 Jeeban Trishna 25 Dec 1957 Shakuntala Ashit Sen Uttam Kumar
32 1957 Musafir Shakuntala Verma Hrishikesh Mukherjee Shekhar Kumar Hindi language
33 1957 Champakali Champakali Nandlal Jaswantlal Bharat Bhushan Hindi language
34 1958 Rajlakshmi O Srikanta 28 Feb 1958 Rajlakshmi Haridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel "Rajlakshmi O Shrikanta"
35 1958 Suryatoran 21 Nov 1958 Anita Chatterjee Agradoot Uttam Kumar
36 1958 Indrani 10 Oct 1958 Indrani Niren Lahiri Uttam Kumar
37 1959 Deep Jwele Jaai 1 May 1959 Radha Mitra Ashit Sen Basanta Chaudhury Block-buster movie.
38 1959 Chaowa Paowa 27 Feb 1959 Manju Yatrik Uttam Kumar The Story was taken from Samual Hopkins Adams's short story and a 1934 Oscar-winning Hollywood movie "It Happened One Night", starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, directed by Frank Capra.
39 1960 Hospital 16 Sep 1960 Sarbari Shushil Majumdar Ashok Kumar
40 1960 Smriti Tuku Thak 23 Sep 1960 Shobha/Utpala Yatrik Ashit Baran / Bikash Roy She first time acted in Double Role in her career
41 1960 Bombai Ka Baboo Maya Raj Khosla Dev Anand Hindi language
42 1960 Sarhad Dev Anand Hindi language
43 1961 Saptapadi 20 Oct 1961 Rina Brown Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar
44 1962 Bipasha 26 Jan 1962 Bipasha Agradoot Uttam Kumar
45 1963 Saat Paake Bandha 22 Mar 1963 Archana Ajay Kar Soumitra Chatterjee
46 1963 Uttar Falguni 11 Oct 1963 Debjani / Pannabai / Suparna Ashit Sen [Dilip Mukherjee / Bikash Roy]
47 1964 Sandhya Deeper Sikha 2 Oct 1964 Jayanti Bannerjee
48 1966 Mamta Devyani / Pannabai / Suparna Asit Sen Dharmendra / Ashok Kumar Hindi version of Bengali film "Uttar Phalguni"
49 1967 Grihadaha 5 May 1967 Achala Subodh Mitra Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel "Grihadaha"
50 1969 Kamallata 2 Oct 1969 Kamallata Haridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel "Kamallata"
51 1970 Megh Kalo 4 Sep 1970 Dr. Nirmalya Roy Basanta Chaudhury
52 1971 Nabaraag 4 Feb 1971 Uttam Kumar
53 1971 Fariyad 5 Nov 1971 Ratanmala
54 1972 Alo Amaar Alo 17 Mar 1972 Atashi Uttam Kumar
55 1972 Har Mana Har 19 Dec 1972 Neera Uttam Kumar
56 1974 Devi Chaudhurani 6 Sep 1974 Prafullamukhi Dinen Gupta Basanta Chaudhury and Ranjit Mallik
57 1974 Srabana Sandhya 25 Jan 1974
58 1975 Priyo Bandhabi 3 Oct 1975 Uttam Kumar
59 1975 Aandhi 13 Feb 1975 Aarti Devi Gulzar Sanjeev Kumar Hindi language
60 1976 Datta 30 Jul 1976 Datta Ajoy Kar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's famous novel Datta
61 1978 Pranay Pasha 9 June 1978



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