He was the alt superstar of Bangla cinema in its glory years, the affable Bhadralok icon who crafted a towering stature ironically banking on down-to-earth, believable characters that represented middle-class Bengal. The brand of stardom was in stark contrast to the other shining luminary of contemporary cinema in the state—Uttam Kumar—whose position as “Mahanayak” in the Bengali psyche was primarily cemented in idol worship and mass hysteria.
Soumitra Chattopadhyay—Chatterjee to anglicised India—answers to the term ‘phenomenon’ as absolutely as few actors do, for the sheer ease with which he defied the cliches of image. His stardom was sensational, and yet born out of realism. He was the mascot of the peerless Satyajit Ray’s oeuvre, having worked with the maestro in 14 films, and yet he scored with the same assuredness in works of contemporary commercial powerhouses as Ajoy Kar and Tarun Mazumdar. He is the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2012) and Padma Bhushan (2004) recipient who was also honoured with the Legion d’Honneur (2018) in France for his contribution to world cinema.
Importantly, Soumitra Chattopadhyay’s greatness as a screen icon will survive the test of time in Bengali pop lore because he had something for everyone. For, he was not just Satyajit Ray’s Apu. Beyond such a nuanced portrayal, he could also simply become Ray’s Feluda and reach out to every audience, eight to 80.
It took a Ray to bring to life Soumitra’s greatness, and yet the account of their first meeting is a well-known story in Bengal. Ray was looking for his adult Apu in “Apur Sansar”, final part of the Apu trilogy that started with “Pather Panchali”. A friend introduced Soumitra to the master filmmaker who promptly declared the budding actor looked too old to be Apu, a college student according to his script. Soumitra would eventually bag the role opposite Sharmila Tagore, of course, and the rest is history.
Soumitra’s cinematic fate is overwhelmingly dictated by the great cinema of Satyajit Ray, so much so the maestro’s filmography through his most important phase outlines the actor’s career graph. Soumitra made his debut with “Apur Sansar” (1959) and, over the next three decades, would work in Ray projects as “Devi” (1960), “Teen Kanya” (1961), “Abhijan” (1962), “Charulata” (1964), “Kapurush O Mahapurush” (1965), “Aranyer Din Ratri” (1969), “Ashani Sanket” (1973), “Sonar Kella” (1974), “Joy Baba Felunath” (1978), “Hirak Rajar Deshe” (1980), “Ghare Baire” (1984), “Ganashatru” (1989) and “Shakha Proshakha” (1990).
It was a filmography that Ray, one of the world’s greatest filmmakers ever, shared with his chosen on-screen emissary. But if Ray worked with Soumitra 14 times, almost every major filmmaker the actor collaborated with
also tended to repeat him. If anything, beyond underlining his credential as an artiste that fact stands a testimony to his professionalism and disposition as a human being.
Consider a few other diversely prolific filmmakers beyond Ray who worked with Soumitra, and you get the picture.
Mrinal Sen, another global icon of Bangla cinema of the era, directed Soumitra for the first time in “Punascha” (1961), and then again returned to collaborate with the actor in “Pratinidhi” (1964), “Akash Kusum” (1965), and “Mahaprithibi” (1991). The iconic Tapan Sinha directed him in projects as “Kshudhita Pashan” (1960), “Jhinder Bandi” (1961), “Atanka” (1984) and “Antardhan” (1992).
Mainstream titans of his era loved working with the affable Soumitra, too. Asit Sen directed him in “Swayambara” (1961) and Swaralipi (1961), while Ajoy Kar made “Otol Joler Ahoban” (1962), “Saat Pake Baandha” (1963), “Barnali” (1963), “Kaanch Kata Heere” (1965) and “Parineeta” (1969). Tarun Mazumdar directed the actor over the years in “Ektuku Baasha” (1965), “Sansar Simante” (1975), “Ganadevata” (1978), “Agomon” (1988) and “Path O Prasad” (1991).
Most of his directors have often spoken about the insatiable passion he had for his craft. It was something that ensured he would stay busy as ever till his last days, essaying character roles with the same enthusiasm with which he executed starring roles in his heydays.
His 300-plus film career probably can be explained by his highly adaptable quality as an actor. He was at home working with new-age Bengali filmmakers as Atanu Ghosh (“Mayurakshi”), Suman Ghosh (“Podokkhep”, “Peace Haven”, “Dwando”, “Basu Paribar”), Partha Chakraborty (“Samantaral”) and Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee (“Posto”).
He did move outside Bengal into Bollywood domain twice. In 1986, he acted opposite Roopa Ganguly in the Hindi short film “Nirupama”, based on Tagore’s story “Dena Paona”. He also had a role in the 2002 release, “Hindustani Sipahi”, based on Utpal Dutt’s renowned Bangla play “Pherari Fauj”.
These though were temporary departures. For most parts, his staggering career is based on his Bengali filmography. It is a body of work that has given him recognition beyond the National Award as Best Actor (“Podokkhep”). He also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998.
Although his greatness lies in his body of work before the camera, Soumitra did try his hand at filmmaking, too. His directorial effort “Stree Ki Patra”, a telefilm based on Rabindranath Tagore’s “Streer Patra” released in 1986. The film starred Roopa Ganguly and Usha Ganguly.
That the legacy of Bangla cinema’s Grand Old Man was established in his lifetime is obvious from the number of GenNow actors who have followed in his footsteps. Young talents in the Bengali film industry of today such as Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Abir Chatterjee have fashioned their careers in the lines of Soumitra, seeking stardom without losing connect with Bengali middle-class realities. These are actors who have carved a niche in what is today known as the multiplex cinema circuit, catering content-driven entertainment of refinement, removed from the cliches of kitsch. It is something Soumitra relished doing all those decades ago.
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ISRO to launch Amazonia-1, 18 co-passenger satellites onboard PSLV-C51 on Feb 28
Nellore (Andhra Pradesh) [India], February 25 (ANI): Primary satellite Amazonia-1 of Brazil and 18 co-passenger satellites onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C51) are scheduled to be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Sriharikota Range (SHAR) on February 28, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said here on Thursday.
“PSLV-C51, which is the 53rd mission of PSLV, will launch Amazonia-1 of Brazil as primary satellite and 18 Co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is tentatively scheduled at 1024 Hrs IST on February 28, 2021, subject to weather conditions,” the space agency said.
ISRO also confirmed that the launch rehearsal of PSLV-C51 was completed today.
PSLV-C51/Amazonia-1 is the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under the Department of Space. The NSIL is undertaking this mission under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc. USA.
Amazonia-1 is the optical earth observation satellite of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). This satellite would further strengthen the existing structure by providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.
The 18 co-passenger satellites include four from IN-SPACe (three UNITYsats from the consortium of three Indian academic institutes and One Satish Dhawan Sat from Space Kidz India) and 14 from NSIL. (ANI)
Amit Shah hails surrender of insurgents in Karbi Anglong district, assures Assam of development
Karbi Anglong (Assam) [India], February 25 (ANI): Hailing the recent surrender of five insurgent groups in Karbi Anglong district of Assam, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said that without peace development is not possible.
Ahead of Assembly polls in Assam, Shah also assured the public that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is continuously working for the proper development of Assam, so there is no need to take up arms.
Addressing a public rally here, Shah hit out at Congress saying that the Congress party ruled Assam for so many years but there was no development and when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Assam, it has progressed.
“There was Congress government for such a long time but nobody gave Bharat Ratna to Bhupen Hazarika. PM Narendra Modi gave Bharat Ratna to Bhupen Hazarika who provided a distinct position to our music before the entire world,” he said.
Shah said that five militant outfits laid down arms before the Assam government on February 23.
“The youth of all these five militant organisations have come to the mainstream, I want to assure them that you have as much right on this country as I have. There can be no development without peace. I want to assure all of you that Prime Minister Narendra Modiji is continuously working for the proper development of Assam, so you do not need to take up arms,” he said.
Five militant groups of Karbi Anglong surrendered in front of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function in Guwahati on February 23, ahead of the state’s assembly elections. The development comes a year after the Modi government signed the Bodo peace accord — bringing an end to the long violent movement for a separate Bodoland.
Union Home Minister said that a lot of work has been done by the BJP government in Assam.
“In this budget also, Modiji has given Rs 53,000 crore specially for Assam. A special package of Rs 2,000 crore has also been announced for tea garden workers,” he said. (ANI)
Vishwa Hindu Parishad not afraid of repression, murder: VHP working president
By Suchitra Mukherjee
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker was killed in a clash between RSS and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) workers in Kerala’s Alappuzha district on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old man, identified as Nandhu, was allegedly hacked to death by SDPI workers in a clash with RSS men near Vayalar town in Alappuzha.
International Working President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Alok Kumar said that this is not the first such killing in Kerala.
“This struggle is with the people of ruling party there. No fair investigation is done. Murderers are not punished. This is unfortunate. I will demand that the government conduct a quick investigation, arrest the culprits, file a charge sheet and prosecute them in the fast track court,” said Kumar.
The VHP international working president said VHP members are not afraid of such repression and murder. “We will continue our campaign of Indian nationalism and offer our heads to the nation,” he said.
“People of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad are not afraid of the assassination and repression of the RSS activist in Kerala. We will continue our campaign of Indian nationalism,” he added.
Alok Kumar said Hindu girls are tricked by Muslim men by tying a kalva in hand and applying a ‘tikka’ on the forehead. They marry Hindu women by giving them the impression of being Hindu. If the truth is found later, there is no way to return.
“The prerequisites for any civilized society are not the misuse of our religious freedom. It is required that we congratulate the Assembly of Uttar Pradesh for passing this law,” Kumar said. (ANI)
New guidelines for digital media, OTT to self-classify content into 5 age based categories
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): There should self-classification of content for Over The Top (OTT) platforms, said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday while unveiling the new policies for digital media.
“For OTT, there should be self-classification of content — 13+, 16+ and A categories. There has to be a mechanism of parental lock and ensuring compliance that children don’t see that,” Javadekar said during a press conference.
The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme, read the guidelines.
The Rules seek to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims.
Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty-four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.
To ensure online safety and dignity of users, especially women users, intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images.
Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his or her behalf.
According to the guidelines, users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to do so and provided with a demonstrable and visible mark of verification. (ANI)
Delhi Court directs police to not take coercive steps against Ford India Directors
New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): A Delhi Court has provided relief to Ford India, its President and Managing Director Anurag Mehrotra and US national and Director David Allan Schock.
While granting the relief, the Court said, “no coercive steps should be taken against them” in a criminal complaint matter alleging cheating and criminal breach of trust investigated by the Economic Offences Wing (EoW) of the Delhi police.
Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Kumar of Rohini Court said, “Considering the facts and circumstances I am of the considered view that since both the accused persons are Director and Managing Director of the Ford India and which has a large business in India, hence there is no chance of absconding from the investigation or jurisdiction of this Court”.
“….keeping in view the undertaking given by the accused persons to join the investigation either physically or by VC, simultaneously, not deny that investigation is at the initial stage and despite service of three notice under Section 41 A Cr. PC and Notice u/s91 Cr.PC, the applicant/ accused has not joined or produced the document, hence in the interest of justice, no coercive steps shall be taken against the aforesaid applicants /accused persons till Next Date of hearing which is March 17th,” the court order stated.
The accused persons had filed anticipatory bail applications before the Court of the Additional Sessions Judge.
Advocate Rohit Kochhar appeared for David Allan Schock whereas, Advocate Vijay Aggarwal appeared for Anurag Mehrotra.
Advocate Rohit Kochhar argued that the FIR was a litany of lies, fabrication and deceit, and had been orchestrated by the complainant with the mischievous and unlawful objective of evading his own legal financial obligations towards Ford India. Advocate Kochhar submitted that the dispute between the parties was purely civil in nature and that the entire FIR, even if read as a whole, did not disclose any criminality on the part of his client.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal argued before the Court that there was a huge delay of more than 18 months on part of the complainant in the registration of the FIR. He submitted that the offenses alleged in the FIR were punishable with less than seven years imprisonment, and therefore, the Delhi police was mandatorily required to follow the principles laid down by the Supreme Court.
The complainant Libra Cars, the Ford dealer for the GT Karnal Road, New Delhi area had filed a criminal complaint with the EOW against Ford India and its senior management, alleging cheating and criminal breach of trust on the ground that Ford India had violated the terms of the agreement between the parties by appointing another dealer within a radius of 10 km from the complainant’s showroom. The criminal complaint culminated in the registration of an FIR against the Managing Director and the US-based Director of Ford India.
Ford Motor Co. is a Fortune Global 500 Corporation, and one of the largest automobile manufacturing companies in the world with annual revenues of approximately Rs 12 lakh crores and almost 200,000 employees spread across 200 countries. (ANI)
Mumbai’s Oval Maidan to be closed from 26 Feb due to spike in COVID-19 cases
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 25 (ANI): As the city has been witnessing a rise in the number of COVID 19 cases, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to close the iconic Oval Maidan in Mumbai from February 26, said Chanda Jadhav, BMC Assistant municipal commissioner.
No activity will be allowed in the Maidan in south Mumbai, including sports till further orders.
“BMC to close the iconic Oval Maidan from tomorrow, 26th February due to rise in #COVID19 cases in Mumbai,” said Chanda Jadhav.
The ground is frequently occupied on weekends by cricket and football enthusiasts, however political rallies and religious functions are banned in the maidan.
Maharashtra on Wednesday witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases, with more than 8,000 new cases of infections being reported in a single day after a gap of over four months. (ANI)
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