Suchitra Sen

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Suchitra Sen
Suchitra Sen.jpg
Sen as Paro in Bimal Roy's Devdas (1955)
Roma Dasgupta

(1931-04-06)6 April 1931
Died17 January 2014(2014-01-17) (aged 82)
Years active1952–1979
Dibanath Sen
(m. 1947;died 1970)
Children Moon Moon Sen Yashwanth Kumar
Awards Padma Shri
Banga Bibhushan
Suchitra Sen English signature.jpg

Suchitra Sen (Bengali pronunciation:  [ʃuːtʃiːraː ʃeːn] Loudspeaker.svg listen  ) (born as Roma Dasgupta) ( Loudspeaker.svg listen  ; 6 April 1931 – 17 January 2014) 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. [1]


Sen was the second Indian actress to receive an award at an international film festival when, at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival, she won the Silver Prize for Best Actress for Saat Pake Bandha . [2] [3] In 1972, she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India. [4] From 1979 on, she retreated from public life and shunned all forms of public contact; for this she is often compared to Greta Garbo. [5] [6] In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest cinematic award in India, to stay out of the public eye. [7] In 2012, she was conferred the West Bengal Government's highest honour: Banga Bibhushan. [8] Her first official release was Sukumar Dasgupta's Saat Number Kayedi (1953). [9] She was catapulted to stardom after she was cast as Vishnupriya by Devaki Kumar Bose in his Bhagaban Shree Krishna Chaitanya (1953). [10]

Personal life and education

Sen in Devdas. Suchitra Sen dans Devdas (1955).jpg
Sen in Devdas.

Suchitra Sen was born on 6 April 1931, in a Bangali Baidya Brahmin family of Bhanga Bari village of Belkuchi Upazila, now in Sirajgonj District, Greater Pabna. [11] [12] Her father, Korunamoy Dasgupto was a headmaster in a local school in Pabna. Her mother, Indira Devi was a homemaker. Sen was their fifth child and second daughter. She was a granddaughter of the poet Rajonikant Sen. [13] She received her formal education in Pabna Government Girls High School. The violence of Partition in 1947 brought her family to West Bengal, which was comparably a safe zone for Hindus. [14] Here she married Dibanath Sen, son of wealthy industrialist Adinath Sen, in 1947, at the age of 15 years. [15] She had one daughter, Moon Moon Sen, who is a former actress. Suchitra's father-in-law, Adinath Sen, was supportive of her acting career in films after her marriage. [16] Her industrialist husband invested greatly in her career and supported her. [17]

Sen had made a successful entry into Bengali films in 1952, and then a less successful transition into the Hindi movie industry. According to persistent but unconfirmed reports in the Bengali press, her marriage was strained by her success in the film industry. [18]


Suchitra Sen made her debut in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but it was never released. [19] The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor , a film by Nirmal Dey. It was a box-office hit and is remembered for launching Uttam-Suchitra as a leading pair. They went on to become the icons for Bengali dramas for more than 20 years, becoming almost a genre unto themselves. [20] She has acted in 30 of her 60 films with Uttam Kumar. She received a Best Actress Award nomination for the film Devdas (1955), which was her first Hindi movie. Her Bengali melodramas and romances, especially with Uttam Kumar, made her the most famous Bengali actress ever. [21]

Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in Bangla Movie Harano Sur Uttam-Kumar-and-Suchitra-Sen-in-Bangla-Movie-Harano-Sur---1957.jpg
Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in Bangla Movie Harano Sur

Her films ran through the 1960s and '70s. Her husband died in 1970 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Suchitra went on to act in films such as in the Hindi film Aandhi (1974). Aandhi was inspired by India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. [22] Sen received a Filmfare Award nomination as Best Actress, while Sanjeev Kumar, who played the role of her husband, won the Filmfare as Best Actor. [23]

One of her best known performances was in Deep Jwele Jaai (1959). She played in a character named Radha Mitra, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, who is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved Oedipal dilemma. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury's violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love again. In the end, even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is noted for its partly lit close-ups of Sen, which set the tone of the film. [24] Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969), with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role. [25]

Suchitra Sen's other landmark film with Asit Sen was Uttar Falguni (1963). She plays the dual role of a courtesan, Pannabai, and her daughter Suparna, a lawyer. Critics note that she brought a great deal of poise, grace and dignity to the role of a fallen woman determined to see her daughter grow up in a good, clean environment. [26] [27] [28]

Suchitra Sen's international success came in 1963, when she won the best actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for the movie Saat Paake Bandha, becoming the first Indian actress to receive an international film award. [29]

A film critic[ who? ] summed up Suchitra Sen's career and continuing legacy as "one half of one of Indian cinema's most popular and abiding screen pairs, Suchitra Sen redefined stardom in a way that few actors have done, combining understated sensuality, feminine charm and emotive force and a no-nonsense gravitas to carve out a persona that has never been matched, let alone surpassed in Indian cinema" [30]

In retirement

Smritituku Thak a tribute to Sen at the Kolkata Book Fair in 2014. 29 Jan 2014. Suchitra Sen Tribute Exhibition - Smritituku Thak Pavilion - 38th International Kolkata Book Fair - Milan Mela Complex - Kolkata 2014-01-29 8065-8067.JPG
Smritituku Thak a tribute to Sen at the Kolkata Book Fair in 2014. 29 Jan 2014.

Suchitra Sen refused Satyajit Ray's offer due to a scheduling problem. As a result, Ray never made the film Devi Chaudhurani , based on the novel written by Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya. She also refused Raj Kapoor's offer for a film under the RK banner. [31]

Sen continued to act after her husband's death in 1970, but called it a day when Pronoy Pasha flopped, [32] and retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion. She was to do a film project; Nati Binodini, also starring Rajesh Khanna, [33] but the film was shelved mid-way after shooting when she decided to quit acting.

She assiduously avoided the public gaze after her retirement and devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission. [11]


Suchitra Sen remembrance at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata, on 19 January 2014. Suchitra Sen Remembrance - Rabindra Sadan - Kolkata 2014-01-19 6823.JPG
Suchitra Sen remembrance at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata, on 19 January 2014.

Suchitra Sen was admitted to the hospital on 24 December 2013 and was diagnosed with a lung infection. She was reported to have been recovering well in the first week of January. [34] But her condition turned worse later and she died at 8.25 am on 17 January 2014, due to a heart attack. She was 82 years old. [35] [36]

Suchitra Sen's death was condoled by many leaders, including the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. [37] A gun salute was given before her cremation, upon the orders of Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal. [38]

Respecting her fierce desire for complete privacy, her last rites were performed at Kolkata's Kaioratola crematorium, barely five and half hours after she died, with her coffin reaching the crematorium in a flower-decked hearse with dark-tinted windows. Despite being Bengal's greatest star, referred to as "Mahanayika", she had consciously chosen to step into oblivion and she remained an enigma till her last, although thousands of fans had converged at the crematorium to catch one last glimpse of their idol. Her entire medical treatment had also been done in seclusion and secrecy. [39]


From 1953 to 1978, both in Bengali and Hindi, Suchitra Sen acted in 61 films.

NoYearMovieRelease dateRoleDirectorHeroNotes
11952Shesh KothaayNANA Bireswar Basu (??)NANever released. However, after 22 years in January 1974 this movie was finally released in different name as " Shrabana Shandhya ", directed by may be Bireswar Basu (??).
21953 Saat Number Kayedi 7 Feb 1953ArunaSukumar DasguptaSamar RoyThis was her first officially released film.
31953 Sharey Chuattor 20 Feb 1953RomolaNirmal Dey Uttam Kumar First hit of "Uttam-Suchitra's".
41953 Bhagaban Srikrishna Chaitanya 11 Dec 1953BishnupriyaDebaki Bose Basanta Chaudhury First hit of legendary "Basanta-Suchitra" pair. And it was one of the first Suchitra Sen's Hindu Vaishnab Philosophy based movies. She acted the role of "Vishnu Priya', the wife of Sri Cahaitanya Mahaprobhu
51953 Kajori 10 April 1953 Niren Lahiri No major hero
61954 Atom Bomb 1 Jan 1954Taru MukherjeeRobin MajumdarShe appeared as an extra in this film. It was shot in 1951 but released in 1954. Sabitri Chatterjee was the actual heroine of this small film
71954 Ora Thake Odhare 5 Feb 1954NiluSukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
81954 Dhuli 3 Jun 1954MinatiPinaki MukherjeePrasanta Kumar
91954 Maraner Parey 25 Jun 1954TanimaSatish Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
101954 Sadanander Mela 16 Jul 1954SheelaSukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
111954 Annapurnar Mandir 6 Aug 1954SatiNaresh Mitra Uttam Kumar Music Director's name is unavailable and unfortunately was NOT even mentioned on the Title-Card of this movie
121954 Agnipariksha 3 Sep 1954TaposhiAgradoot Uttam Kumar Suchitra-Uttam starring first Box Office Superhit Movie. That was the beginning of their Bengali film iconic image of "Sonar-Juti"
131954 Grihaprabesh 12 Nov 1954Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar
141954 Balaygras 17 Dec 1954Manimala
151955 Sanjher Pradip 28 Jan 1955RajuSudhanshu Mukherjee Uttam Kumar
161955 Devdas 1 Jan 1955Parvati (Paro) Bimal Roy Dilip Kumar Her First Hindi language film Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Devdas"
171955 Snaajhghar 11 Mar 1955
181955 Shapmochan 27 May 1955MadhuriShudhir Mukherjee Uttam Kumar Suchitra-Uttam starring Second Box Office Superhit Movie based on Phalguni Mukhopadhyay's novel " Sandhya Raag".
191955 Mejo Bou 30 Sep 1955
201955 Bhalobasa 6 Oct 1955 Basanta Chaudhury
211955 Sabar Uparey 1 Dec 1955RitaAgradoot Uttam Kumar Based on Scottish Writer A. J. Cronin's 1950 novel, "Beyond This Place". From this novel Bengali Movie "Sabar Uparey" was made in 1955. Then in 1958 Dev Anand made the same story in Hindi name "Kala Pani" starring Dev Anand and Madhubala and directed by Raj Khoshla. However, the English film with the same title of the book was released in 1959 starring Van Johnson, Vera Mills and Emlyn Williams and directed by Jack Cardiff
221956 Sagarika 1 Feb 1956SagarikaAgradoot Uttam Kumar
231956 Subharaatri 30 Mar 1956Shanti/SudhaSushil Majumdar Basanta Chaudhury
241956 Ekti Raat 11 May 1956SantanaChitta Bose Uttam Kumar
251956 Trijama 28 June 1956SwarupaAgradoot Uttam Kumar
261956 Shilpi 30 Nov 1956AnjanaAgragami Uttam Kumar
271956 Amar Bou 14 Dec 1956Bikash Roy
281957 Harano Sur 6 Sep 1957Dr. Roma BanerjeeAjoy Kar Uttam Kumar Based on James Hilton's immortal Novel "Random Harvest" a 1942 Hollywood hit movie starring Ronald Colman and Greer Garson
291957 Chandranath 15 Nov 1957SarajuKartik Chattopadhyay Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Chandranath". It is also the first Bengali movie ever released in Calcutta Metro Cinema.
301957 Pathe Holo Deri 5 Dec 1957Mallika BanerjeeAgradoot Uttam Kumar A novel by then novelist Ms. Prativa Basu.
311957 Jeeban Trishna 25 Dec 1957ShakuntalaAshit Sen Uttam Kumar
321957 Musafir 26 April 1957Shakuntala Verma Hrishikesh Mukherjee Shekhar KumarHindi language
331957 Champakali 31 Dec 1957RajoNandlal JaswantlalBharat BhushanHindi language
341958 Rajlakshmi O Srikanta 28 Feb 1958RajlakshmiHaridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Rajlakshmi O Shrikanta"
351958 Suryatoran 21 Nov 1958Anita ChatterjeeAgradoot Uttam Kumar Based on the 1949 Warner Brothers film "The Fountain Head" written by then Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Starring Garry Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Messy, Kent Smith, the film was directed by Mr. King Vidor. In the Bengali film "Suryatoran", Suchitra Sen did the role of "Dominique" the main female character which was portrayed by Ms. Patricia Neal in "The Fountainhead".
361958 Indrani 10 Oct 1958IndraniNiren Lahiri Uttam Kumar
371959 Deep Jwele Jaai 1 May 1959Radha MitraAshit Sen Basanta Chaudhury Block-buster movie.
381959 Chaowa Paowa 27 Feb 1959ManjuYatrik Uttam Kumar The Story was taken from Samual Hopkins Adams's one of the short stories " Night Bus" publishes in 1933. Director Frank Capra made it later a 1934 Oscar-winning block-buster Hollywood movie "It Happened One Night", starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
391960 Hospital 16 Sep 1960Dr. Sarbari RoyShushil Majumdar Ashok Kumar
401960 Smriti Tuku Thak 23 Sep 1960Shobha/UtpalaYatrikAshit Baran / Bikash RoyShe first time acted in Double Role in her career
411960 Bombai Ka Baboo 2 Dec 1960Maya Raj Khosla Dev Anand Hindi language
421960 Sarhad 9 Sep 1960MalaShankar Mukherjee Dev Anand Hindi language
431961 Saptapadi 20 Oct 1961Rina BrownAjoy Kar Uttam Kumar
441962 Bipasha 26 Jan 1962BipashaAgradoot Uttam Kumar This was the first film where Suchitra Sen charged Rs. one lakh for doing her role., and this was the first time any Bengali actor (male or Female) received Rs. One Lakh for doing any film acting role. It was a milestone for Bengali movie history.
451963 Saat Pake Bandha 22 Mar 1963ArchanaAjay Kar Soumitra Chatterjee
461963 Uttar Falguni 11 Oct 1963Debjani / Pannabai / SuparnaAshit SenDilip Mukherjee, Bikash Roy Based on well known Bengali Writer Dr. Nihar Ranjan Gupta's Novel "Uttar Falguni".
471964 Sandhya Deeper Sikha 2 Oct 1964Jayanti BannerjeeHaridas BhattacharyaDilip Mukherjee, Bikash RoyIt was based on Bengali novelist Tarun K. Bhaduri's book Sandhya Deeper Shikha. The movie was also produced by Dilip Mukherjee.
481966 Mamta 27 Feb 1966Devyani / Pannabai / SuparnaAsit Sen Dharmendra, Ashok Kumar Hindi version of Bengali film "Uttar Phalguni"
491967 Grihadaha 5 May 1967AchalaSubodh Mitra Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Grihadaha"
501969 Kamallata 2 Oct 1969KamallataHaridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Kamallata"
511970 Megh Kalo 4 Sep 1970Dr. Nirmalya RoyShushil Mukherjee Basanta Chaudhury
521971 Nabaraag 4 Feb 1971Bijoy Bose Uttam Kumar
531971 Fariyad 5 Nov 1971Chapa/RatanmalaBijoy Basu Utpal Dutta
541972 Alo Amaar Alo 17 Mar 1972Atashi Uttam Kumar
551972 Har Mana Har 19 Dec 1972Neera Uttam Kumar
561974 Devi Chaudhurani 6 Sep 1974PrafullamukhiDinen Gupta Basanta Chaudhury and Ranjit Mallik
571974 Srabana Sandhya 25 Jan 1974Bireswar Basu (??)However, " Shrabana Shandhya's " original name was " Shesy Kothaay " it was half done in 1952 and was never released at that time, after 22 years later it came out and released in Jan 1974, may be it was directed by Bireswar Basu (??), who was the original Director of " Shesy Kothaay " film in 1952 .
581975 Priyo Bandhabi 3 Oct 1975 Uttam Kumar
591975 Aandhi 13 Feb 1975Aarti Devi Gulzar Sanjeev Kumar Hindi language
601976 Datta 30 Jul 1976DattaAjoy KarSoumitra ChatterjeeBased on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel Datta
611978 Pranay Pasha 9 June 1978TaposhiMangal ChakrabortySoumitra ChatterjeeThis was her last movie released


Sen received 10 awards during her lifetime. In 1963, she became the first Indian actress to receive an international award.

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