WB-2ND LD-SOUMITRA-BIOPIC Biopic on well-known Bengali actor Soumita

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Chattopadhyay to release later this year (Eds : Adds byline, extra background with minor edits) By Supratik Sengupta Kolkata, Mar 28 (PTI) A biopic on famous actor Soumitra Chattopadhyay, well-known for his award winning roles in Satyajit Ray's movies and star of many a hit Bengali film of the previous century is slated to be released later this year by actor-director Parambrata Chatterjee.

Soumitra Chattopadhyay often referred to as Soumitra Chatterjee, had before his death in November last year had acted as himself in part of the biopic which has been titled 'Abhijaan'. Director Parambrata Chatterjee says the legendary actor's participation in the movie was like being 'guided to the life of the Master by the Master himself.' Parambrata said he had harboured a long cherished dream of capturing the thespian's life in the form of a biopic.

'As things fell in place, I signed Soumitra `jethu' (elder uncle) to portray himself on screen. Thus, 'Abhijaan' begun. It remains as one of his last works on celluloid,' he said on Friday after the trailer launch of the film.

Chattopadhyay, who debuted in movies with Satyajit Ray's award winning `Apur Sansar' (The World of Apu), a part of Ray's famous trilogy, in 1959, became the celebrated director's choice for several more award winning films including `Charulata' (the Lonely Wife) in 1964, `Aranyer Din Ratri' (Days and Nights in the Forest) in 1969 and `Ashani Sanket' (Distant Thunder) in 1973.

He also worked with other noted directors such as Mrinal Sen for whom he acted in `Akash Kusum' (Up in the Clouds) and Tapan Sinha in Kshudita Pashan (Hungry Stones) and in `Jhinder Bandi' (Prisoner of Jhind) in the 1960s. He also acted in Ray's detective movies as the detective `Feluda', made in the 1970s as well in his later movies such as Ganashatru (Enemy of the People), made in 1989.

'The history of Indian cinema remains incomplete without mentioning the name of Soumitra Chattopadhyay. I am truly indebted to him for agreeing to not even just allow me to make this movie but also act in it. His demise is truly unfortunate and a major loss for the film and theatre fraternity,' Parambrata said.

Recalling how the Dada Saheb Phalke awardee was extremely active even at his age, he said 'I have shared some wonderful moments while working on 'Abhijaan'. It was like being guided to the life of the Master by the Master himself.

So many unknown facets came up during our conversations.' While the 84-year old had portrayed himself during the later phase of his life, Jisshu Sengupta has essayed the younger Soumitra on the screen.

A galaxy of acclaimed actors from Bengali film industry are in the cast.

While Paoli Dam will be seen as Suchitra Sen, an acclaimed actress of the 60s and 70s, Sohini Sarkar will portray Madhabi Mukhopadhyay while Rudranil Ghosh is playing the role of Soumitra's friend and versatile character actor Rabi Ghosh. Padmanabha Dasgupta as Anup Kumar, Tuhina Das as Soumitra's co-star Waheeda Rehman will also be in the star- studded cast.

Dulal Lahiri will play the role of Chhabi Biswas, veteran actor of the 1960s, similarly Kaushik Mukherjee will be seen in the role of Satyajit Ray, Soumitra's mentor in movies. Debshankar Halder will be seen as theatre personality Shishir Bhadhuri, Anindita Bose will perform in the role of famed actress Aparna Sen, while Tridha Choudhury will be seen as Sharmila Tagore. Basabdatta Chatterjee as Deepa Chattopadhyay, Soumitra's wife and Sohini Sengupta as his daughter Poulomi Bose will also be seen in the biopic.

Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee will be seen in a special role while Parambrata Chatterjee has also one surprise appearance.

Soumitra, who had dabbled in theatre as a young man started life as an announcer for All India Radio. Ray discovered him and brought him into movies at the young age of 22.

Recalling his shooting experience, the last phase of which had continued during last year's unlock phase, Parambrata said 'capturing the era and the mannerisms of other renowned personalities were quite a challenge but my entire cast played their roles to perfection.' He said in the trailer voice over addressing Soumitra, it had been said : 'You are not merely an actor, you are a poet, a playwright, and a politically conscious personality.

You are all in one.' 'I have sought to bring out the journey in Soumitra's life in this film. Apart from his acting career, snippets of his private life and his life's adventure has been brought forth in the movie which I loath to call commercial.' Parambrata, who shared a special rapport with Satyajit Ray's Apu said he will never use the word late before Soumitra's name anywhere in the film's credits.

The film seeks to explore Soumitra multifaceted personality as an actor, poet, painter and a theatre personality as well as one of Bengal's cultural icons.

The film will be released in the coming months, but the date is yet to be finalised.

National Award Winning Music Composer Prabuddha Banerjee has composed the music for the movie while the screenplay and dialogues are by Padmanabha Dasgupta, Parambrata Chatterjee and Dr Shubhendu Sen. PTI SUS RG JRC MM MM