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Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee dies aged 85 from Covid-19 complications

Legendary Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee has died aged 85 from complications from Covid-19.

The actor died on Sunday morning, a month after he was admitted to hospital on October 6 in Kolkata city after testing positive for coronavirus.

He tested negative a few weeks after he was admitted to hospital, but his condition deteriorated and he was placed on a ventilator in the last week of October.

A statement read: ‘We declare with heavy heart that Shri Soumitra Chattopadhyay breathed his last at 12-15 pm at Belle Vue Clinic today (15 November 2020). We pay our homage to his soul.’

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived at the hospital to be with the actir;s family soon after his death, and later tweeted: ‘Feluda is no more. ‘Apu’ 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. 

‘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. A great loss. Saddened. Condolences to his family, the film fraternity and his admirers across the world.’

Chatterjee starred in more than 300 movies and had a six-decade long career in Bengali language films.

He was best known for his work with Oscar-winning director Satyait Ray, with the third film of the Apu Trilogy, 1959’s Apur Sansar, marking Chatterjee’s debut movie.

He went on to star as the lead in 14 of Ray’s films, including Charulata, Sonar Kella, Devi and Asani Sanket. 

He also starred in films like Lathi, Guru Shisya and Life In Park Street, and despite his fame, chose to avoid Bollywood and stick to Bengali language films.

Filmmaker Pritish Nandy said of Chatterjee in 2012: ‘Soumitra is the finest actor in the land today, but totally unheard of outside Bengal. It’s a loss for India, Bollywood and I guess, a bit for Soumitra.’

His final role came in the 2019 film Sanjhbati, in which he played Chhana Dadu. 

In 2012, Chatterjee was awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest honour in Indian cinema, and won France’s Legion of Honour in 2018.

Outside cinema, Chatterjee acted in, wrote and directed a number of plays, with his play Ghataj Bidey running for 500 nights. 

He also received critical acclaim for his role in a Bengali adaptation of King Lear.

Chatterjee was also a keen literary mind, editing a literary magazine and publishing 30 books of essays and poetry.

He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. 

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