(IBNS) Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was one of the favourites of late film maestro Satyajit Ray, was conferred the highest honour in India cinema, the Dada Sahek Phalke award, for the year 2011 at an august ceremony in New Delhi on Thursday.
“I am not in a frame of mind to speak,” said the 77-year-old actor who is a legend of Bengali cinema who also left his mark in international cinema.
He said he was overwhelmed by the honour which was presented to him by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
“His partnership with Satyajit Ray would indeed be counted as a memorable director-actor combination in the history of cinema. I warmly congratulate Shri Chatterjee and all other award winners. I also wish to thank and congratulate the distinguished Jury for the Awards for their hard work,” said Ansari at the presentation ceremony of the 59th National Film Awards.
Chatterjee had starred in countless Bengali movies of both the commercial and arthouse genre.
Chatterjee beat Bollywood actor Pran, who was a popular villain in the films of the 1960s and 1970s, to bag the award for 2011.
Soumitra Chatterjee began his film career in 1959 in Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) opposite Sharmila Tagore.
He was the most popular choice of later Satyajit Ray.
Chatterjee has acted opposite every Bengali heroines of yesteryears, including actors like Suchitra Sen, Aparna Sen, besides Sharmila Tagore and later Bollywood actor Tanuja.
Chatterjee, who also won a National Award in 2008, also acted in the Merchant Ivory productions.
He is also one of the most popular detective heroes of Bengali cinema having played the role of private detective “Feluda” in several Ray films adapted from his books.
Soumitra Chatterjee is also an ace theatre personality and known for stage recitations.
The Bengali film world is excited hearing the announcement.
Dadasaheb Phalke (30 April 1870 – 16 February 1944) was an Indian producer-director-
screenwriter, known as the father of Indian cinema.
Starting with his debut film, Raja Harishchandra 1913, now known as India’s first full-length feature, he made 95 movies and 26 short films in his career span of 19 years, till 1937.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime contribution to cinema, was instituted in his honor, by Government of India in 1969.