On Friday, while Kolkata scrambled desperately to catch a last glimpse of Suchitra Sen, the residents of Bhubandanga, Bolpur, quietly mourned the death of their favourite girlnext-door, Rama
Here, Sen was not just the legendary silver screen superstar; she was a neighbour and friend. Suchitra’s family owned a two-storey house in the area, in which her brothers Amiya and Arun lived before they sold it to former forest ranger Budhadeb Chatterjee who currently lives here.
“I bought the house sometime in the mid-90s from her brothers. However, I never got a chance to meet or see her. It’s my misfortune,” Chatterjee said. Still, there are plenty of others who saw and interacted with Bengal’s Mahanayika years ago.
“Yes, I have seen her many times. By then she was already a famous actress and I was just in my teens. She was a frequent visitor to this house - where her parents and brothers lived - and we’ve talked on several occasions. She was very down to earth, and everyone here called her Didi,” said Kanti Biswas, Sen’s onetime next-door neighbour.
Although she would later go on to become a complete recluse, and has been said to have been a very reserved person all her life, at Bhubandanga,
was able to let her guard down a little. “We used to call her by her nickname, Rama. She was a very
. Every time she visited, we would have a chat and play together. “In fact, we were a gang of girls together. We used to call her mother mami ma,” says local Saraswati Mitra.
Karunamoy Dasgupta, Sen’s father, is said to have arrived in Santiniketan in the early 50s, with his family. According to local residents, they used to live in a rented mud house with a thatched roof before they built their home on a piece of land they owned. “I can still remember the time her brother, Goutam, fell seriously ill. It was in the early 70s. By then she was very famous. She came here with a renowned doctor from Kolkata, but before the doctor could begin the treatment, her beloved brother died.
I still remember the look on Rama’s face, and I’ll never forget the way she managed that crowd of people who were trying to get her autograph or a photo even in that situation,” Mitra says.
Kamal Prasanna Chatterjee, a former teacher at the Bolpur High School, remembers the family well. “We lived next door to them, and none of us had any boundary walls. I remember a funny moment, when I told her that I, too, wanted to be an actor. “She smiled this disarming smile, patted me and said, ‘Sobai ki Uttam Kumar hoi’ (Can everyone be an Uttam Kumar),” said Chatterjee, smiling at the memory. His wife, too, was a great friend of
’s. “They spent many afternoons chatting in our veranda,” he recalls. “She was just like my elder sister.
Her brother Goutam was my classmate and best friend,” says Krishna Gopal Roy, former librarian of Bolpur College. “She was like an elder sister to me. Her brother Goutam was my classmate and best friend,” said Krishna Gopal Roy of Bhubandang a and for mer librarian of Bolpur College. “One evening, soon after I got married, she came to my house and said, ‘Ki re? Biye korechis sunlam? Bou dekha! Tor bou kemon hoyeche dekhbo’ (I heard you got married! Let me see your wife, what is she like?) Then she asked for something to eat, simple puffed rice and big cup of tea. On several occasions I went with her to visit Tarapith or Kankalitala,” Roy added.