Some Lesser Known Facts about Bengali Ace Actor Soumitra Chatterjee

·2-min read

Bengali cinema’s legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee passed away at 85 on November 15, 2019 due to Covid-19 complications. He is mostly remembered for his critically-acclaimed performances with director Satyajit Ray.

The 85-year-old actor contracted the deadly coronavirus and was admitted to hospital in Kolkata on 6th October because of age-related concerns. The actor also has a medical history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and prostate cancer.

The actor shot to fame in the 60s and 70s for his performances in movies like Apur Sansar, Charulata and many more.

However there are some facts about the actor which are not much known by people. Let’s take a look at some of them:


As much as we admire Chatterjee's sublime performances in his myriad movies, there was a time when he too had to face rejection. At the age of 20, young Soumitra was rejected in his screen test for the lead role of a 1957 Bengali film named Nilachale Mahaprabhu directed by Kartik Chattopadhyay. The role was instead given to Asim Kumar. The biopic was based on the life of a 15th-century mystic Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who started his spiritual journey and Hindu reform movement during his years at Nilachal at Puri.


It is no secret that the professional relationship between Satyajit Ray and Chatterjee was one of the most successful ones at its time. Ray, who mentored the young actor, even wrote roles keeping Chatterjee’s looks and physique in mind. One of his iconic characters was that of a private investigator from Kolkata named Feluda. Ray had even created some illustrations of Feluda based on Soumitra’s physique. Chatterjee played Feluda in two of Ray’s movies Sonar Kella (1974) and Joi Baba Felunath (1979).

Rejected the National Award

The legendary actor was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2011. He also went on to receive France's highest civilian award Knight of the Legion d’Honneur in 2018, thirty years after his mentor Satyajit Ray had received it in 1987 from Francois Mitterrand, the President of France at the time. However, Chatterjee never won a National Film Award for acting in the early part of his career and hence in protest, he turned down the 2001 Special Jury Award for Dekha directed by Goutam Ghose.