Legendary Bengali actress Padmashree Suchitra Sen passed away on Friday the 17th January 2014 after a brief period of illness. The media had come out with the usual obituary references as well as detailed biographic sketches and tributes for her contribution to Indian films in general and Bengali films in particular. A lot was written about her ethereal beauty, her acting talent, her enigmatic personality and her shunning all publicity and public appearances to live in reclusion.
Suchitra Sen’s contribution to Bengali films was immense with most memorable films like AGNIPARIKSHA, SAAT PAAKE BANDHA,SATPATI, SAGARIKA, UTTER PHALGUNI and so on which gave her a place in the hearts of Bengalis equal to that of the great Kanan Devi. Her thirty odd Bengali films opposite the matinee idol Uttam Kumar catapulted her to the heights of popularity till 1978 when she suddenly decided to leave everything behind to lead a lonely life of her own.
Film goers of this part of the country had only limited opportunity to see the Bengali films of Suchitra Sen and our memories of Suchitra Sen’s films still linger with her seven or eight Hindi films including Bimal Roy’s DEVDAS (1955) in which she made her debut in Hindi cinema. The much acclaimed film with Dilip Kumar donning the role of the tragic hero( the title stuck to him forever) which fetched him the Filmfare Award for the best actor. The film
also had Vijayathimala in the lead who gave outstanding performance with Suchitra Sen. It won the National Award for the third best film of the year. What still lingers clearly in my mind is the music of S.D.Burman with Talat’s Mahmood’s ‘Kisko khabar thi’ and ‘Mitwa laagi yeh kaisi’ and Lata’s ‘Oj Jane wale ruk jha’ being the best of the lot.
In fact one of the prominent features of Suchitra Sen’s Hindi films was the beautiful melodious songs which are even today a rage among singers and listeners. The most notable is Filmyug Pvt.Ltd.’s AANDHI(1975) starring Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen with haunting music by R.D.Burman. A couple of the best ever duets of Lata and Kishore Kumar, viz., ‘Tere bina zindagi se’ and ‘Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya’ besides ‘Is mod se jata hain’ prove the point.The Director of the film Gulzar himself had penned the lyrics and the film bagged the Filmfare Awards for the Best film and Best actor.(Sanjeev Kumar).The performance of Suchitra Sen received a lot of critical acclaim but there was also enough controversy surrounding the character played by her for its similarity with the former prime minister Smt.Indira Gandhi.
Film AANDHI had followed another highly successful film Charu Chitra’s MAMTA(1966), a Dharmendra-Suchitra Sen- Ashok Kumar starrer directed by Asit Sen with music by Roshan. This was a remake of the superhit Bengali film UTTAR PHALGUNI with Suchitra Sen in the lead which won the National Award for best film in 1963. Film Mamta was best remembered for Suchitra sen’s acting and Roshan’s music. Lata’s ‘Rahena rahen ham’ and ‘Rahte they kabhi’ are still as haunting as ever.The Lata-Hemant Kumar duet ‘Chhupa lo yun dil mein’ is another outstanding number of the film.
Musicwise, probably the best remembered Hindi film of Suchitra Sen is Naya Film’s BOMBAY KA BABU(1960) with Dev Aanand playing the lead opposite her. While the film as such was not a big hit, the songs composed by S.D.BURMAN are among his best compositions ever. The Asha-Rafi duet ‘Deewana mastana hua dil’sung with great verve and lilt is an all time favourite of listeners. In ‘Saathi na koi manzil’ Rafi is at his melodious best. The Asha Bhosle number ‘Dekhne mein bhola hai’ is even today as sweet and catchy as ever.There is also one of the top songs of Mukesh viz.,the grief filled ‘Chalri sajni ab kya soche’ reminding us of his evergreen ‘Ansu bhari hai yeh jeevan ki(Parwarish), ‘Saranga teri yaad mein(Saranga) and ‘Dil jalta hain to jalne de(Pehli Nazar) and so on.
In our younger days when cinema was the main form of entertainment there were several films, film producers, directors, actors and actresses, music directors, singers, lyricists and so on who, with their talent and efforts, had made our life happy . Eventhough most of them have inevitably left the world, the pleasant memories about them and their contributions, the records and songs and a peep into that glorious past give us many enjoyable hours even now. It is sad that one of the most beautiful and talented personalities of Indian Cinema, Suthitra Sen, has also left us.
Tail piece:- The beautiful face of Suchitra Sen reminds us of two more faces of beauty in similar mould; one of the past, the Mughal-e-Azam Madhubala and the still active other, the Yaraana Madhuri Dixit.