KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar Sunday paid homage to legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee who died in a city hospital after a prolonged battle for his life.
Banerjee said Chatterjee was a "fighter" who will be celebrated for his works and his death has delivered an irreparable blow to the film fraternity of the country.
Dhankhar said Chatterjee's death has left a deep void.
Banerjee, who rushed to the private hospital where the thespian was admitted and died on Sunday, said it is a sad day for Bengal and his fans across the globe.
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The chief minister said Chatterjee was a fighter at the core of his heart and took part in several mass movements.
"He was a fighter who will be celebrated and remembered for his works. It is a sad day for Bengal and his fans across the globe," she said.
Banerjee said, "I had spoken to him (Soumitra Chatterjee) over phone when he was admitted on October 6 after testing positive for COVID-19. He was very confident. Although he has passed away COVID-19 could not defeat him as he had already recovered from the deadly disease," Banerjee told reporters here.
Chatterjee's daughter Poulomi Basu, who was present there, thanked the actor's followers and fans for their support for the last 40 days when he was in hospital.
Basu said the mortal remains of the iconic actor would be taken to his Golf Green home and then to the famed Technicians Studio, the nerve center of the Bengali film industry, where members of the film fraternity and technicians will pay their last repsects to him.
Chatterjee's body will be then taken to Rabindra Sadan to allow people have their last glimpse of the actor and from there he will be taken Keoratla crematorium in a procession in the evening observing the coronavirus regulations.
Banerjee announced that there would be gun salute before the last rites as a mark of respect to the Dada Saheb Phalke awardee.
She said in a statement, "'Feluda' (the role that Chatterjee played in two mystery films by Satyajit Ray) is no more. 'Apu' (of Ray's immortal 'Apur Sansar') said goodbye. Farewell, Soumitra (Da) Chatterjee. He has been a legend in his lifetime. International, Indian and Bengali cinema has lost a giant. We will miss him dearly."
Best known for his films with Satyajit Ray, Soumitra Da was conferred with Legion of Honor, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Banga Bibhushan, Padma Bhushan & several National Awards. A great loss. Saddened. Condolences to his family, the film fraternity & his admirers across the world 2/2— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) November 15, 2020
"The film world in Bengal has been orphaned. Best known for his films with Satyajit Ray, Soumitra Da was conferred with Legion of Honor, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Banga Bibhushan, Padma Bhushan and several National Awards. Condolences to his family, the film fraternity and his admirers across the world," he said in a statement.
Condoling the death of the celebrated actor, Dhankhar tweeted "Deeply grieved at the passing of veteran actor Soumitra Chattopadhyay. Heartfelt condolences. A void is difficult to fill."
Deeply grieved at the passing of veteran actor Soumitra Chattopadhyay. Heartfelt condolences. A void difficult to fill.— Governor West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar (@jdhankhar1) November 15, 2020
He was first Indian film personality conferred with Ordre des Arts et des Lettres France's highest award for artists; also winner of Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
"He was first Indian film personality conferred with Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France's highest award for artists; also the winner of Dadasaheb Phalke Award," he added.
Senior BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta said Chatterjee epitomized Bangla films and Bengali character.
"Soumitra Chatterjee was a Bengali legend. He epitomized Bangla films & the Bengali character. He will live on in our imagination. The cultural life of Bengal will be a little poorer without him," He said in a tweet.
Soumitra Chatterjee was a Bengali legend. He epitomised Bangla films & the Bengali character. He will live on in our imagination. The cultural life of Bengal will be a little poorer without him.— Swapan Dasgupta (@swapan55) November 15, 2020
Chatterjee died on Sunday after a 40-day battle with multiple ailments, a statement issued by the hospital, where he was undergoing treatment, said.
He was 85. His wife, son and daughter survive the thespian.
Chatterjee was admitted to the hospital on October 6 after he tested positive for COVID-19.
He had recovered from the deadly disease, but his condition did not improve as he suffered from multiple ailments, including neurological complications.