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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Suchitra Sen in her own words: I had a good friendship with Uttam Kumar, a deep one

Hindustan Times  Kolkata, January 18, 2014
First Published: 15:29 IST(18/1/2014) | Last Updated: 22:36 IST(18/1/2014)

I’m obstinate. I never asked for help from anyone. Acting in the film Bhagaban Sri Krishna Chaitanya (1953) changed my life. I played the role of Bishnupriya. Since then, I’ve been fearless. Someone drives me from within.

I just love to spend time with myself. I never accepted any proposal for acting since I decided to retire. I spend the morning watching the sky, the trees and the flowers in the garden, in the evening I watch the twilight sky, and I like talking to my granddaughters whenever they paid a visit.

I had a strong desire to act in the role of Damini in Rabindranath Tagore’s Chaturanga but it never happened. Premendra Mitra was planning a film and I was supposed to play the character. But the producer Hemen Ganguly suddenly committed suicide and the film was never made. I would have even played the role in a theatre had someone came up with a script for a theatrical performance. I’m really fond of this novel. Of all the Tagore novels, I like this one the most.

I truly loved acting in Neelachale Mahaprabhu, against Basanta Choudhury. I also liked acting in Harano Sur, Uttar Falguni and Saptapadi, against Uttam Kumar, and Saat Pakey Bandha against Soumitra Chatterjee.

Saat Pakey Bandha, besides winning me the best actress award in the Moscow film festival, is memorable for another reason. What you watched in this film was happening to me in real life. I would have a quarrel with my husband everyday during the shooting. One morning I tore apart my husband’s shirt at home. During the shoot in the afternoon, I had a similar scene of the quarrel. I told the director I wanted to tear apart Soumitra Chatterjee’s shirt and he agreed.

I paired with Uttam Kumar in so many films, and yet, I told my producers to keep my name ahead of the actor in the advertisements.

I had a good friendship with Uttam Kumar, a deep one. Among actors, I respect Dilip Kumar the most. Bimal Roy took me to Bombay in the middle of the 1950s. There I acted against Dilip Kumar in Devdas. A great actor! But I made good friendship with Sanjeev Kumar, who was a wonderful person. And he was a good actor as well. He used to contact me every time he visited Kolkata and came to my place. I was quite close to Kanan Devi.

She helped me in my bad times. During the time of my marital discord, I had left home and lived at her place for some time.

In men, I don’t look for beauty. I look for intelligence and sharp conversations. I had refused Raj Kapoor’s offer almost immediately. He came to my residence offering a lead role and, as I took my seat, he suddenly sat near my foot and offered me a bouquet of roses while offering the role. I rejected the offer. I did not like his personality. The way he behaved - sitting near my foot -did not befit a man.

I refused to work with Satyajit Ray for a different reason. He wanted me to act exclusively for his film, Devi Chaudhurani. But I had two other commitments that time and I could not have refused people who made me Suchitra Sen. I assured him that I would give my best in his film, too, but he did not agree. So, I said no to Ray. Why should I agree to such a proposal? Once, during the shooting of a film by Haridas Bhattacharya, who was the husband of Kanan Devi, I insisted that I tell him how I wanted to act in a scene. But he said I would have to do the way he wanted it to be done. We had a big fight over it and I left the studio. Work stopped. Then, after quite a long time, Bhattacharya agreed to let me work the way I wanted. And I completed the work.

God has given me everything and I do not desire anything else. He gave me everything that I wanted. But now, I do not find interest in anything at all. I’m completely indifferent about liking or disliking, getting or not getting anything.

I do not care about anything written or discussed about me in the media. I don’t read them at all. I’m completely indifferent about what people are talking about me. I used to visit Bharat Maharaj of Belur Math and Kanai Maharaj in Golpark Ramkrishna Mission. But I stopped visiting Belur Math after his death.

I’m so reclusive I didn’t even attend the marriage of the daughter of my younger sister, Runa. If I’m to travel anywhere, I like hills. But I hardly moved out of home since retiring. People would disturb me everywhere. I used to get so many letters every day, but I never replied to any of them. I hardly read any of them. I’m better this way.

( As told to Amitabha Choudhury, described in his book, Aamar Bondhu Suchitra Sen)

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