Soumitra Chatterjee (1935-2020): A full life beyond the screen received Last Rites Performed With Gun Salute

Actor Soumitra Chatterjee breathed his last in a Kolkata hospital on Sunday. He was 85. Soumitra was admitted to the hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19 on October 6. The legend, known for his collaborations with Satyajit Ray, was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, besides winning three National Film Awards.

Born on January 19, 1935, Soumitra Chatterjee learned acting from noted theatre personality, Ahindra Choudhury. After initially getting rejected for the role of Apu, Chatterjee finally made his acting debut with Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (1959), which was the third part of the Apu Trilogy. The two eventually worked on fourteen films including Abhijan, Charulata, Kapurush, Aranyer Din Ratri, Ashani Sanket, Sonar Kella and Joi Baba Felunath.

Chatterjee also had successful collaborations with Bengali directors like Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha. Sen’s Akash Kusum (1965) and Sinha’s Jhinder Bandi (1961) got Chatterjee equal laurels. Among contemporary filmmakers, Chatterjee teamed up with Goutam Ghose, Aparna Sen, Anjan Das and Rituparno Ghosh among others.

The funeral of veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee has been performed on Sunday with full state honours. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also at the hospital this morning to be with the actor’s family after his death, attended the funeral. Along with her, several cinema personalities from the Bengali film industry were also present. Soumitra’s last rites were lead by a funeral procession from Rabindra Sadan to Keoratala Crematorium, which was attended by hundreds of fans and the CM.

Chatterjee died on November 15 in Kolkata at the age of 85. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on October 6 after which he was hospitalised at Bellevue Nursing Home in Kolkata where he breathed his last on Sunday, November 15. Even though Chatterjee was tested negative, the COVID-19 encephalopathy set in causing various other infections. Chatterjee had been struggling with COVID-19 complications for the last 40 days. A special team of doctors tried to improve his health condition by performing dialysis, putting him on a ventilator, and even conducting a tracheotomy. However, nothing helped, and the actor was put on different life support systems on Saturday.

The hospital released an official statement on Chatterjee’s passing away: “We declare with a heavy heart that Soumitra Chatterjee breathed his last at 12-15 pm at Belle Vue Clinic today (November 15, 2020). We pay our homage to his soul.”

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