Madhabi Mukherjee

Last updated

Madhabi Mukherjee
Mukherjee in 2018
Born (1942-02-10) 10 February 1942 (age 79)
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Other namesMadhabi Chakraborty, Madhabi Mukhopadhyay, Madhuri
Notable work

Madhabi Chakraborty , née Mukherjee, (born 10 February 1942) is an Indian actress. She won the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the Bengali film Dibratrir Kabya . [1] She has acted in some of the most critically acclaimed films in Bengali cinema and is considered one of the great actresses of Bengali cinema. [2] [3]


Early life

Madhabi Mukherjee was born on 10 February 1942 and was raised with her sister Manjari by their mother in Kolkata, in what was then Bengal, India. As a young girl, she became involved in the theater.

She worked on stage with doyens such as Sisir Bhaduri, Ahindra Choudhury, Nirmalendu Lahiri and Chhabi Biswas. Some of the plays she acted in included Naa and Kalarah. She made her film debut as a child artist in Premendra Mitra's Dui beaee"[ citation needed ].


Mukherjee first made a major impact with Mrinal Sen's Baishey Shravan (Wedding Day) in 1960. The film is set in a Bengal village before and during the horrific famine of 1943 in Bengal that saw over 5 million die. Mukherjee plays a 16-year-old girl who marries a middle-aged man. Initially, she brightens his life but then World War II and the Bengal Famine hits them. The couple's marriage disintegrates.

Her next major film was Ritwik Ghatak's Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread ) made in 1962, but released in 1965 – the last in a trilogy examining the socio-economic implications of partition, the other two being Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) (1960) and Komal Gandhar (E-Flat) (1961). In the film, Ghatak depicts the economic and socio-political crisis of Bengal from 1948 to 1962; how the crisis has first and foremost left one bereft of one's conscience. Mukherjee plays Sita, the younger sister of Ishwar (Abhi Bhattacharya), who kills herself when—as a prostitute waiting for her first customer—she finds out the customer is none other than her estranged brother.

Working with Satyajit Ray

In the early 1960s, she was recruited by Satyajit Ray to portray the role of Arati in the 1963 film Mahanagar (The Big City).

Recalling her meeting with Ray, Mukherjee wrote:

He read me the entire story, Mahanagar. I was stunned. This was the first woman-centered screenplay I had encountered. I was not going to play second fiddle to the main male character as in all plays and films I had acted in or was familiar with. (p.20)

In Mahanagar, Mukherjee plays Arati, who takes a job as a saleswoman due to financial constraints in the family. The large joint family is horrified at the thought of a working woman. For Arati, going door to door selling knitting machines opens up a whole new world and new friends and acquaintances, including an Anglo-Indian friend, Edith. Earning money also raises Arati's status in the family especially when her husband (Anil Chatterjee) loses his job. When Edith is sacked unfairly, Arati resigns in protest...Mukherjee's towering performance as Arati dominates the film. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote: "It might be useful to see the performance of Madhabi Mukherjee in this film. She is a beautiful deep, wonderful actress who simply surpasses all ordinary standards of judgment."

This film was followed by her portrayals of Charu in Charulata (The Lonely Wife), the 1964 film based on Rabindranath Tagore's novella Nashtanir (The Broken Nest, 1901). Mukherjee's stunning portrayal of Charulata, a bored and neglected housewife of Calcutta in the 19th century, is a towering performance in the history of Indian cinema.

Mukherjee reached the peak of her career with this film. It is said that when Ray returned to Tagore with Ghare Baire (1984) (The Home and the World), he stylised Swatilekha Chatterjee in a manner similar to Madhabi in Charulata[ citation needed ].

Mukherjee's third and last film with Ray was Kapurush (The Coward) in 1965. The film looks at Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), a screenwriter whose car breaks down in a small town. He lodges with a local resident, Bimal Gupta (Haradhan Bannerjee). Bimal is married to Karuna (Mukherjee), who was a former girlfriend of Amitabha, a fact of which Bimal is unaware.

After Satyajit Ray

Although she remained a big star in the Bengali commercial film industry, after Kapurush, Mukherjee failed to reach the critical heights as her films with Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray again.

Her major films after Kapurush include Calcutta 71 in 1972 by Mrinal Sen, Biraj Bou in 1972 by Manu Sen, Strir Patra in 1972 by Purnendu Patri, Ganadevata in 1978 by Tarun Majumdar, Bancharamer Bagan in 1980 by Tapan Sinha, Chokh in 1982, Chhandaneer in 1989 by Utpalendu Chakrabarty and Utsab in 2000 by Rituparno Ghosh.

Personal life

Mukherjee is married to Bengali film actor Nirmal Kumar. [4] They have two daughters, but are currently separated.

She wrote her autobiography Ami Madhabi in 1995. [4] [5]



Awards and nominations

Related Research Articles

<i>Charulata</i> 1964 film by Satyajit Ray

Charulata is a 1964 Indian drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray based upon the 1901 novella Nastanirh by Rabindranath Tagore. It features Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee and Sailen Mukherjee. The film is considered one of Ray's high achievements.

Suchitra Sen Indian actress

Suchitra Sen was an Indian film actress who worked in Bengali and Hindi cinema. The movies in which she was paired opposite Uttam Kumar became classics in the history of Bengali cinema.

<i>Mahanagar</i> 1963 Indian film

Mahanagar is a 1963 Indian Bengali-language drama film written and directed by Satyajit Ray and starring Madhabi Mukherjee in the leading role of Arati. Based on the short story Abataranika by Narendranath Mitra, it tells the story of a housewife who disconcerts her traditionalist family by getting a job as a saleswoman. It marks the first screen appearance of Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, then aged 15, who later became one of Hindi cinema's leading actresses.

<i>Kapurush</i> 1965 Indian film

Kapurush or in English, The Coward, is a 1965 film directed by Satyajit Ray.

Tarun Majumdar Indian film director

Tarun Majumdar is a Bengali Indian film director who is known for his work in Bengali cinema. He received four National Awards, seven BFJA Awards, five Filmfare Awards and an Anandalok Award. In 1990, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award.

Sandhya Mukherjee, also known as Sandhya Mukhopadhyay, is an Indian playback singer and musician, specialising in Bengali music. She is the prima donna of the Bengali playback industry. No other female vocalist has attended her calibre in the Bengali music industry. She received Banga Bibhushan, the highest civilian honour of the Indian state of West Bengal in 2011. and National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her songs in the films Jay Jayanti and Nishi Padma in the year 1970.

Sabitri Chatterjee Indian actress

Sabitri Chatterjee is an Indian actress who is well known for her work in Bengali theatre and cinema. Her career spans more than 60 years. She is the recipient of BFJA Awards for two times. In 1999, she was conferred with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Acting in Bengali theatre. In 2013, she was awarded by the Government of West Bengal its highest civilian award; the Banga Bibhushan. In 2014, Government of India conferred upon her its fourth-highest civilian award the Padma Shri.

Tapan Sinha Indian film director

Tapan Sinha was one of the most prominent Indian film directors of his time forming a legendary quartet with Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. He was primarily a Bengali filmmaker who worked both in Hindi cinema and Bengali cinema, directing films like Kabuliwala (1957), Louha-Kapat, Sagina Mahato (1970), Apanjan (1968), Kshudhita Pashan and children's film Safed Haathi (1978) and Aaj Ka Robinhood. Sinha started his career in 1946, as a sound engineer with New Theatres film production house in Kolkata, then in 1950 left for England where he worked at Pinewood Studios for next two years, before returning home to start his six decade long career in Indian cinema, making films in Bengali, Hindi and Oriya languages, straddling genres from social realism, family drama, labor rights, to children's fantasy films. He was one of the acclaimed filmmakers of Parallel Cinema movement of India.

Sandhya Roy Indian actress

Sandhya Roy is an Indian actress and politician. She is known for her work in Bengali cinema. She is the recipient of BFJA Award for three times. and one Filmfare Awards East best actress for Ganadevata.

Indrani Haldar Indian actress

Indrani Haldar is an Indian actress who is mostly known for her work in Bengali cinema. She was conferred with a National Award, three BFJA Awards and two Anandalok Awards.

Debashree Roy Indian actress, dancer, choreographer and animal rights activist

Debashree Roy, also known as Debasree Roy, is an Indian actress, dancer, choreographer, politician and animal rights activist. As an actress, she is known for her work in Hindi and Bengali cinema. She has been cited as the reigning queen of Bengali commercial cinema. She acted in more than a hundred films and won over forty awards, including a National Award, three BFJA Awards, five Kalakar Awards and an Anandalok Award. As a dancer, she is known for her stage adaptations of the various forms of Indian folk dances as well as her innovative dance forms imbued with elements from Indian classical, tribal and folk dance. She runs Natraj dance troupe. She is the founder of Debasree Roy Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works for the cause of stray animals. Roy was a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Raidighi constituency since 2011 till 2021.

Aarti Mukherjee, also known as Aarti Mukherji or Arati Mukhopadhyay, is an Indian playback singer who has sung in Hindi films such as Geet Gata Chal (1975), Tapasya (1976), Manokamana and Masoom (1983).

Koel Mallick Indian actress

Koel Mallick is an Indian film actress who appears in Bengali films. She is the daughter of actor Ranjit Mallick and Deepa Mallick. Her debut film was Nater Guru.

Haradhan Bandopadhyay was a Bengali Indian male actor of television and films. He made his debut in the 1948 Bengali film Devdut, directed by Atanu Bandopadhyay. He worked with some of the most prominent directors of Bengali cinema, like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

Jogamaya Devi College

Jogamaya Devi College is one of the oldest and leading women's college in Kolkata, India. It shares the same building with Asutosh College and Syamaprasad College and is named after the wife of Sir Asutosh Mukherjee. It is a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accredited Grade "B" college. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and is affiliated to the University of Calcutta. It was established in 1932.

Dibratrir Kabya is a 1970 Bengali black-and-white film starring Madhabi Mukherjee, Anjana Bhowmik and Basant Choudhury in the lead roles. The film was directed by Bimal Bhowmik and Narayan Chakraborty. The film won two National Film Awards at the 17th National Film Awards.

The 28th Annual Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards were held on 1965, honoring the best in Indian cinema in 1964.

<i>Strir Patra</i> 1972 Indian film

Strir Patra is a 1972 Bengali film, directed by Purnendu Patri, based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore, and with Madhabi Mukherjee playing the lead role. Tagore's story, first published in 1914, is considered to be a path-breaking feminist text. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali, as well as a number of BFJA Awards.

Anubha Gupta was an Indian Bengali actress, known for her work in Bengali cinema. She received the Best Actress in Supporting Role Award at the 26th Annual BFJA Awards for the film Hansuli Banker Upakatha.



  1. "17th National Film Festival". Directorate of Film Festivals, GOI. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  2. "Madhabi Mukherjee". IMDb.
  3. "'If you say something, you must speak out the whole truth. Or else, don't say anything at all'".
  4. 1 2 "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Look | 'If you say something, you must speak out the whole truth. Or else, don't say anything at all'". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  5. "Had ideas, not funds: Madhabi Mukherjee - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  6. "Kalakar award winners" (PDF). Kalakar website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.