Anil Chatterjee: An Artiste Per Excellence

25th October , 1929. In one part of colonised Calcutta, now Kolkata, was born the widely popular Shankar of Riwtik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara. None of his family, friends or even distant relatives ever had a clue that a bright student, like him would someday create history in the film industry. For Anil Chatterjee, things changed when he met Utpal Dutta in his college days. The young, intense soul was driven by Dutta’s theatre movement and panned his career graph in Bengali film industry.

Early Life: An Artiste In The Making

Only few know that Anil Chatterjee set of his career as a radio artist. However, his film career geared up when he started working as an assistant director with Ardhendu Mukhopadhyay, a reputed filmmaker of that time.

Though Anil planned to be a film director he made several cameo appearances in films made by his friends. His first substantial role was in “Jog Biyog” (1953) directed by Pinaki Mukherjee, a close friend.

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Graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, the esteemed actor silently became an inevitable part of the Bengali film industry in the early 1950s. From the 1950s to 1990s, Anil Chatterjee movie list is bit extended. He acted in nearly 150 films and expertised his artistry without the tag of a celebrity. In the span forty years of his career he worked with the maestros like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Tapan Sinha and Mrinal Sen and gifted us some on-screen characters that render awe.

Works With The Maestroes

Being, an artiste par excellence, all of his on-screen portrayals, left indelible impressions. Ritwik Ghatak’s “The Citizen” (Nagorik),“The Cloud-Capped Star” (Meghe Dhaka Tara) or “A Soft Note on a Sharp Scale” (Komal Gandhar); Ray’s “The Postmaster”, “The Big City” (Mahanagar) or Tapan Sinha’s “The Desolate Beach” (Nirjan Saikate), “Sagina Mahato” offered some of the most delicate characters, that Anil Chatterjee played like an ace.

Minute Study On Anil Chatterjee Bengali Movie

As discussed Anil Chatterjee Bengali Movie is extremely colourful. In “The Cloud-Capped Star” (Meghe Dhaka Tara) Anil’s portrayal as Shankar was incomparable. As the older brother of the film’s protagonist Neeta (Supriya Devi), he was brilliant in capturing the shades of the character. The scene where Shankar and Neeta sing the Tagore song ‘Je Rate Mor Duarguli’ is now ranked as one of the landmarks in Bengali cinema.

Satyajit Ray’s “The Big City” (Mahanagar), released in 1963, offered Chatterjee a nuanced character of a typical middle-class Bengali husband. The performance as Subrata Mazumdar, a character, torn between male ego and domestic necessity earned him felicitation at the Berlin Film Festival (1964) and also at the Acapulco Film Festival, Mexico in the same year. Anil was able to subdue the innate theatricality of his acting and give restrained yet powerful performances in the films by Ray speak volumes about his flexibility as a thespian.

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Anil Chatterjee was also a favourite of Tapan Sinha and he had significant roles especially in Sinha’s early films. In “Nirjan Saikate” (1963) Anil played a character of a sensitive writer Shankar, who develops a bond with a young woman (Sharmila Tagore). This is one of the limited lead roles he portrayed on screen.

Commercially Competent Films: Anil’s Unforgettable Side Roles

Yes it’s true, that the parallel films of ‘Black and White’ era had dig out the simplicity of his poised presentation and heart wrenching performances. But Anil’s brilliance, as a character artist, has emerged out even in the commercial films of 50s and 60s.

Notably 1950s and 1960s witnessed some of the most outstanding actors, directors, authors in the commercial genre of movies. Especially West Bengal had been a breeding ground for excellence and uncountable commercial Bengali movies swayed the larger canvas of Indian cinema. So, it was obvious that an actor like Anil Chatterjee would be flooded with unforgettable on-screen characters.

When legendary actors like Uttam Kumar, Soumitra Chatterjee, Biswajit Chatterjee were constantly chosen as the hero, Anil’s acting skill was restricted in character roles.

But he neither complained, nor regretted for not being the lead cast of his time. Rather in private chats, interviews he always showcased a formidable respect towards the characters, he was being given.

May be that is the reason with intense acting caliber, Anil had overshadowed the characters of the protagonists at times. Kancher Swargo, Notun Jeebon, Ahwan, Jotugriho, Marutitrtho Hinlaj, Bon Palashir Padabali, Atanka are some of the best manifestations that witnessed Anils’ immortal characterizations.
Be it a patient in a mental asylum in Asit Sen’s smash-hit “Deep Jwele Jai”(1959) or as the cop Bhuwan Roy in Shakti Samanta’s super-hit “Amanush” starring Uttam Kumar Anil’s impressive portrayals made him ‘an actor of ages’.

The Last Life Of The Jovial Actor

Anil Chatterjee was a cheerful, exuberant person whose interests extended beyond cinema. Chatterjee was actively associated with 20 film organizations. He was the president of many film associations like Federation of Film Societies of India, Federation of Film Technician and Workers’ of Eastern India, Shilpi Sansad, South Calcutta Film Society. As his characters, Anil Chatterjee death was also sudden. This brilliant actor passed away on 17th March, 1996 leaving behind his endless classics.

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