West Bengal CM, governor pay homage to Soumitra Chatterjee

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(Eds: With updates) Kolkata, Nov 15 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday paid homage to legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee who died at a city hospital after a prolonged battle with multiple ailments.

Banerjee said the actor was a 'fighter' who will be celebrated for his works and his death has delivered an irreparable blow to the film fraternity of the country.

Dhankhar said Chatterjee's death has left a deep void and is a colossal loss to the world of cinema.

Chatterjee died after a 40-day battle with multiple ailments, a statement issued by the hospital, where he was undergoing treatment, said. He was 85.

The thespian is survived by wife Deepa Chatterjee, daughter Poulomi Basu and son Sougata Chatterjee.

Banerjee, who rushed to the private hospital where the actor breathed his last, said it is a sad day for Bengal and his fans across the globe.

'He was a fighter who will be celebrated and remembered for his works. It is a sad day for Bengal and his fans across the globe,' she said.

'I had spoken to him (Soumitra Chatterjee) over the phone when he was admitted on October 6 after testing positive for COVID-19. He was very confident. Although he passed away, COVID-19 could not defeat him as he had already recovered from the deadly disease,' Banerjee told reporters here.

Chatterjee's daughter Poulomi Basu, who was present there, thanked the actor's followers and fans for their support for the last 40 days when he was in the hospital.

Condoling the death of the celebrated actor, Dhankhar tweeted, 'Deeply grieved at the passing of veteran actor Soumitra Chattopadhyay. Heartfelt condolences. A void is difficult to fill.' 'Soumitra da encapsulated and epitomised the essence of pristine Bengali sensibilities, emotions, culture and ethos. His rich legacy will be ever cherished and would inspire and motivate millions,' the governor said in a condolence message.

Dhankhar said Chatterjee was much beyond the honours and recognitions he got in his life.

'He was first Indian film personality conferred with Ordre des Arts et des Lettres France's highest award for artists; also winner of Dadasaheb Phalke Award,' the governor said.

The state bade a tearful adieu to the iconic actor as thousands of people walked following a flower-bedecked hearse which carried his body to a crematorium where his mortal remains were consigned to flames with full state honours here.

Banerjee, along with her ministerial colleagues and a host of film personalities, walked in the procession with others singing Rabindranath Tagore's song, 'Aguner parashmoni chhoao praane' (the touchstone of fire will turn us pure).

'Feluda' (the role that Chatterjee played in two mystery films by Satyajit Ray) is no more. 'Apu' (of Ray's immortal 'Apur Sansar') said goodbye.

'Farewell, Soumitra (Da) Chatterjee. He has been a legend in his lifetime. International, Indian and Bengali cinema has lost a giant. We will miss him dearly,' she said in a statement.

'The film world in Bengal has been orphaned. Best known for his films with Satyajit Ray, Soumitra Da was conferred with Legion of Honor, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Banga Bibhushan, Padma Bhushan and several National Awards.

Condolences to his family, the film fraternity and his admirers across the world,' Banerjee said.

Senior BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta said Chatterjee epitomised Bangla films and the Bengali character.

'Soumitra Chatterjee was a Bengali legend. He epitomised Bangla films & the Bengali character. He will live on in our imagination. The cultural life of Bengal will be a little poorer without him,' he said on Twitter.

Chatterjee was admitted to the hospital on October 6 after he tested positive for COVID-19. He had recovered from the deadly disease, but his condition did not improve as he suffered from multiple ailments, including neurological complications. PTI PNT AMR KK BDC BDC