Soumitra Chatterjee. The love of my life. He is extremely dependable. All I have to do is pop in one of his dvds, and he is right there. The shy smile, the quiet assured voice, the idealistic drive to do the “right” thing—all of these make up the many reasons why it is Soumitra, and not Uttam Kumar (his contemporary and perhaps, more sought after in the black and white era of Bengali cinema), that I hunger after. His many characters are responsible for making me fall in love with him again and again when I spy them on my television screen:
Pratulya in Baksha Badal/The Suitcase Affair (1965)
Amal in Charulata/The Lonely Wife (1964)
Ashim in Aranyer Din Ratri/Days and Nights in the Forest (1970)
Apu in Apur Sansar/The World of Apu (1959)
And, so on.
As you can see, my love for Soumitra extends to his image circa late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s black and white Bengali movies.
Baba says I will be single forever, as there is no Soumitra now. Don’t get me wrong. Soumitra still exists at the age of 76. Married to his wife, Deepa, for the past 51 years. But my Soumitra is unattainable. He only exists within the colourless world of Bengali movies. And, in my head, of course.
So, what is to be done with this unrequited love?
Nothing, except day dream. Women of all ages had their chance decades ago. Now, it’s my turn.
This is my miniscule tribute to Soumitra Chatterjee. If I am lucky, I will get a chance to interview him someday.