‘Apu said goodbye’: Film celebs, politicians bid farewell to Soumitra Chatterjee

The film industry as well as millions of fans have mourned the loss of iconic actor Soumitra Chatterjee. The veteran actor died on Sunday after several weeks in hospital; he was diagnosed with Covid encephalopathy. The President, the Prime Minister and the West Bengal chief minister posted tributes to the actor.

Chatterjee’s daughter Paulaumi Basu said, “I am extremely grateful to the chief minister (Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee), the doctors and all those who took such great care of my father. I would like to ask everybody not to grieve. Let us celebrate his life.”

Paying homage to the celebrated actor, Mamata Banerjee said Chatterjee was a “fighter who will be celebrated for his work”. His death is an “irreparable loss” for the country’s film fraternity, she said.

PM Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, “Shri Soumitra Chatterjee’s death is a colossal loss to the world of cinema, cultural life of West Bengal and India. Through his works, he came to embody Bengali sensibilities, emotions and ethos. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.”

President Ram Nath Kovind remembered his work in Apu trilogy and tweeted, “With the passing of Soumitra Chatterjee, Indian cinema has lost one of its legends. He will be specially remembered for the ‘Apu’ trilogy and other memorable performances in Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces. He made immense contribution to the craft of acting.” He further added, “Soumitra Chatterjee’s performances won him several national and international awards including Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Padma Bhushan and Légion d’Honneur. Condolences to his family, the film fraternity and millions of fans across the world.”

Richa Chadha took to Twitter to condole the death of the legendary actor. She tweeted, “RIP Soumitra Chatterjee! You live on through your work for eternity! Thank you for the movies. A big, big loss to the world of cinema and art. An era has indeed ended with no one in sight to fill the void.”

Randeep Hooda shared two black and white pictures of the legend in his memory and wrote, “The end of an era .. RIP Legend.”

“And the year takes away another gem .. RIP #SoumitraChatterjee .. your imprint will stay in the minds eye and heart for very long ..” wrote Tisca Chopra.

Madhur Bhandarkar shared throwback pictures of Chatterjee on Twitter. He wrote, “Sad to hear demise of Padma Bhushan awardee #SoumitraChatterjee,Will always remember my interaction with Soft spoken actor during 54th National Award function for film #TrafficSignal, which was very encouraging & inspiring. My Condolences to his family & admirers. #OmShanti Folded hands.”

Also read: Soumitra Chatterjee, the doyen of Bangla cinema, dies at the age of 85

Also read: ‘Lost a family member’: Satyajit Ray’s son pays tribute to Soumitra Chatterjee

Filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s son and director Sandip Ray said, “I lost a member of my family. He shared a wonderful chemistry with my father. He gave a lot of thought to the characters my father created. His most favourite role was that of Gangacharan in Ashani Sanket. He was so involved in the project that he even pushed the trolley when there was a shortage in manpower one day.”

Aparna Sen, Chatterjee’s life-long friend and co-actor, said, “He was my first hero. I was only 14 when we first met. I used to call him uncle at that time. He and his wife were friends of our family. I became his friend too as I grew up. I can’t believe he is no more.”

Sharmila Tagore, who made her debut opposite Chatterjee in Apur Sansar, told a news channel, “We were hoping that he would recover. I lost a very old friend, a very dear friend and a very loyal friend. He left a legacy. He is associated with Ray but he gave wonderful performances while working with other directors as well. He was a very erudite person. I remember listening to him and actor Subhendu Chatterjee as they discussed politics and literature for hours when we were shooting in the outdoor location for Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri.”

Chatterjee was admitted to a Kolkata hospital on October 6 after he tested positive for Covid-19. He was later shifted to ICU as Covid encephalopathy set in, affecting his central nervous system and causing renal dysfunction. He recovered from the infection subsequently, but his health condition did not improve, despite several plasma therapies, dialysis and tracheotomy. Doctors had on November 13 said that he stopped responding to treatment.

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