Suchitra Sen
Sen as Paro in Bimal Roy's Devdas (1955)
Roma Dasgupta

(1925-04-06)6 April 1925
Died17 January 2014(2014-01-17) (aged 88)
Years active1952–1979
Dibanath Sen
(m. 1947; died 1970)
ChildrenMoon Moon Sen
RelativesRaima Sen (granddaughter)
Riya Sen (granddaughter)
AwardsPadma Shri (1972)
Banga Bibhushan (2012)

Suchitra Sen (Bengali pronunciation: [ʃuːtʃiːraː ʃeːn] listen; born Roma Dasgupta (listen; 6 April 1925 – 17 January 2014), widely known as the Mahanayika (lit.'Great actress'), was an Indian actress who worked in Bengali and Hindi cinema. The movies in which she was paired opposite Uttam Kumar became classics in the history of Bengali cinema.[1]

Sen was the first Indian actress to receive an award at an international film festival when, at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival, she won the Silver Prize for Best Actress for Saat Pake Bandha.[2][3] She was catapulted to stardom after she was cast as Vishnupriya by Devaki Kumar Bose in his Bhagaban Shree Krishna Chaitanya (1953).[4]

In 1972, she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India.[5] From 1979 on, she retreated from public life and shunned all forms of public contact; for this she is often compared to Greta Garbo.[6][7] In 2005, she refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest cinematic award in India, to stay out of the public eye.[8] In 2012, she was conferred the West Bengal Government's highest honour: Banga Bibhushan.[9] Her first official release was Sukumar Dasgupta's Saat Number Kayedi (1953).[10]

Personal life and education

Sen in Devdas.

Suchitra Sen was born on 6 April 1925, in a Bengali Baidya family[11] of Bhanga Bari village of Sirajganj District, Bengal (now in Sirajganj District, Bangladesh).[12][13] Her father, Korunamoy Dasgupta, was a Sanitary Inspector of Pabna Municipality and her mother, Indira Devi, was a homemaker. Sen was their fifth child and second daughter. She was a granddaughter of the poet Rajanikanta Sen.[14] She received her formal education in Pabna Government Girls High School. The violence of Partition in 1947 brought her family to West Bengal, which was comparably a safe zone for Hindus.[15] Here she married Dibanath Sen, son of wealthy industrialist Adinath Sen, in 1947, at the age of 21 years.[16][17] She had one daughter, Moon Moon Sen, who is a former actress. Suchitra's father-in-law, Adinath Sen, was supportive of her acting career in films after her marriage.[18] Her industrialist husband invested greatly in her career and supported her.[19] He died in 1970.

Sen had made a successful entry into Bengali films in 1952, and then a less successful transition into the Hindi movie industry. According to persistent but unconfirmed reports in the Bengali press, her marriage was strained by her success in the film industry.[20]


Suchitra Sen made her debut in films with Shesh Kothaay in 1952, but it was never released.[21] The following year saw her act opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuattor, a film by Nirmal Dey. It was a box-office hit and is remembered for launching Uttam-Suchitra as a leading pair. They went on to become the icons for Bengali dramas for more than 20 years, becoming almost a genre unto themselves.[22] She has acted in 30 of her 60 films with Uttam Kumar. Due to political reasons Dilip Kumar won the Filmfare Award best actor award and Vyjayantimala won best supporting actress award for Devdas (1955) but Sen not even been nominated for this film best actress award. It was her first Hindi movie. Her Bengali melodramas and romances, especially with Uttam Kumar, made her the most famous Bengali actress ever.[23]

Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen in Bangla Movie Harano Sur

Her films ran through the 1960s and '70s. Suchitra went on to act in films such as in the Hindi film Aandhi (1974). Aandhi was inspired by India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[24] This time Sen received only a Filmfare Award nomination as Best Actress, while Sanjeev Kumar, who played the role of her husband, won the Filmfare as Best Actor.[25] but she has not awarded best actress award.

One of her best known performances was in Deep Jwele Jaai (1959). She played in a character named Radha Mitra, a hospital nurse employed by a progressive psychiatrist, Pahadi Sanyal, who is expected to develop a personal relationship with male patients as part of their therapy. Sanyal diagnoses the hero, Basanta Choudhury, as having an unresolved Oedipal dilemma. He orders Radha to play the role though she is hesitant as in a similar case she had fallen in love with the patient. She finally agrees and bears up to Choudhury's violence, impersonates his mother, sings his poetic compositions and in the process falls in love again. In the end, even as she brings about his cure, she suffers a nervous breakdown. The film is noted for its partly lit close-ups of Sen, which set the tone of the film.[26] Asit Sen remade the film in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969), with Waheeda Rehman in the Suchitra Sen role.[27]

Suchitra Sen's other landmark film with Asit Sen was Uttar Falguni (1963). She plays the dual role of a courtesan, Pannabai, and her daughter Suparna, a lawyer. Critics note that she brought a great deal of poise, grace and dignity to the role of a fallen woman determined to see her daughter grow up in a good, clean environment.[28][29][30]

Suchitra Sen's international success came in 1963, when she won the best actress award at the Moscow International Film Festival for the movie Saat Paake Bandha, becoming the first Indian actress to receive an international film award.[citation needed]

A film critic[who?] summed up Suchitra Sen's career and continuing legacy as "one half of one of Indian cinema's most popular and abiding screen pairs, Suchitra Sen redefined stardom in a way that few actors have done, combining understated sensuality, feminine charm and emotive force and a no-nonsense gravitas to carve out a persona that has never been matched, let alone surpassed in Indian cinema".[31]

In retirement

Smritituku Thak a tribute to Sen at the Kolkata Book Fair in 2014. 29 Jan 2014.

Suchitra Sen refused Satyajit Ray's offer due to a scheduling problem. As a result, Ray never made the film Devi Chaudhurani, based on the novel written by Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. She also refused Raj Kapoor's offer for a film under the RK banner.[32]

Sen continued to act after her husband's death in 1970, but called it a day when Pronoy Pasha flopped,[33] and retired from the screen in 1978 after a career of over 25 years to a life of quiet seclusion. She was to do a film project; Nati Binodini, also starring Rajesh Khanna,[34] but the film was shelved mid-way after shooting when she decided to quit acting.

She assiduously avoided the public gaze after her retirement and devoted her time to the Ramakrishna Mission.[12]


Suchitra Sen remembrance at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata, on 19 January 2014.

Suchitra Sen was admitted to the hospital on 24 December 2013 and was diagnosed with a lung infection. She was reported to have been recovering well in the first week of January.[35] But her condition worsened later and she died at 8.25 am on 17 January 2014, due to a heart attack. She was 88 years old.[36][37]

Suchitra Sen's death was condoled by many leaders, including the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.[38] A gun salute was given before her cremation, upon the orders of Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal.[39]

Respecting her fierce desire for complete privacy, her last rites were performed at Kolkata's Kaioratola crematorium, barely five and half hours after she died, with her coffin reaching the crematorium in a flower-decked hearse with dark-tinted windows. Despite being Bengal's greatest star, referred to as "Mahanayika", she had consciously chosen to step into oblivion and she remained an enigma till her last, although thousands of fans had converged at the crematorium to catch one last glimpse of their idol. Her entire medical treatment had also been done in seclusion and secrecy.[40]


From 1953 to 1978, both in Bengali and Hindi, Suchitra Sen acted in 61 films.

No Year Movie Release date Role Director Hero Notes
1 1952 Shesh Kothaay NA NA Bireswar Basu (??) NA Never released. However, after 22 years in January 1974 this movie was finally released in different name as " Shrabana Shandhya ", directed by may be Bireswar Basu (??).
2 1953 Saat Number Kayedi 7 Feb 1953 Aruna Sukumar Dasgupta Samar Roy This was her first officially released film.
3 1953 Sharey Chuattor 20 Feb 1953 Romola Nirmal Dey Uttam Kumar First hit of "Uttam-Suchitra's".
4 1953 Bhagaban Srikrishna Chaitanya 11 Dec 1953 Bishnupriya Debaki Bose Basanta Chaudhury First hit of legendary "Basanta-Suchitra" pair. And it was one of the first Suchitra Sen's Hindu Vaishnab Philosophy based movies. She acted the role of "Vishnu Priya', the wife of Sri Cahaitanya Mahaprobhu
5 1953 Kajori 10 April 1953 Niren Lahiri No major hero
6 1954 Atom Bomb 1 Jan 1954 Taru Mukherjee Robin Majumdar She appeared as an extra in this film. It was shot in 1951 but released in 1954. Sabitri Chatterjee was the actual heroine of this small film
7 1954 Ora Thake Odhare 5 Feb 1954 Nilu Sukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
8 1954 Dhuli 3 Jun 1954 Minati Pinaki Mukherjee Prasanta Kumar
9 1954 Maraner Parey 25 Jun 1954 Tanima Satish Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
10 1954 Sadanander Mela 16 Jul 1954 Sheela Sukumar Dasgupta Uttam Kumar
11 1954 Annapurnar Mandir 6 Aug 1954 Sati Naresh Mitra Uttam Kumar Music Director's name is unavailable and unfortunately was NOT even mentioned on the Title-Card of this movie
12 1954 Agnipariksha 3 Sep 1954 Taposhi Agradoot Uttam Kumar Suchitra-Uttam starring first Box Office Superhit Movie. That was the beginning of their Bengali film iconic image of "Sonar-Juti"
13 1954 Grihaprabesh 12 Nov 1954 Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar
14 1954 Balaygras 17 Dec 1954 Manimala
15 1955 Sanjher Pradip 28 Jan 1955 Raju Sudhanshu Mukherjee Uttam Kumar
16 1955 Devdas 1 Jan 1955 Parvati (Paro) Bimal Roy Dilip Kumar Her First Hindi language film Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Devdas"
17 1955 Snaajhghar 11 Mar 1955
18 1955 Shapmochan 27 May 1955 Madhuri Shudhir Mukherjee Uttam Kumar Suchitra-Uttam starring Second Box Office Superhit Movie based on Phalguni Mukhopadhyay's novel " Sandhya Raag".
19 1955 Mejo Bou 30 Sep 1955
20 1955 Bhalobasa 6 Oct 1955 Basanta Chaudhury
21 1955 Sabar Uparey 1 Dec 1955 Rita Agradoot Uttam Kumar Based on Scottish Writer A. J. Cronin's 1950 novel, "Beyond This Place". From this novel Bengali Movie "Sabar Uparey" was made in 1955. Then in 1958 Dev Anand made the same story in Hindi name "Kala Pani" starring Dev Anand and Madhubala and directed by Raj Khoshla. However, the English film with the same title of the book was released in 1959 starring Van Johnson, Vera Mills and Emlyn Williams and directed by Jack Cardiff
22 1956 Sagarika 1 Feb 1956 Sagarika Agradoot Uttam Kumar
23 1956 Subharaatri 30 Mar 1956 Shanti/Sudha Sushil Majumdar Basanta Chaudhury
24 1956 Ekti Raat 11 May 1956 Santana Chitta Bose Uttam Kumar
25 1956 Trijama 28 June 1956 Swarupa Agradoot Uttam Kumar
26 1956 Shilpi 30 Nov 1956 Anjana Agragami Uttam Kumar
27 1956 Amar Bou 14 Dec 1956 Bikash Roy
28 1957 Harano Sur 6 Sep 1957 Dr. Roma Banerjee Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar Based on James Hilton's immortal Novel "Random Harvest" a 1942 Hollywood hit movie starring Ronald Colman and Greer Garson
29 1957 Chandranath 15 Nov 1957 Saraju Kartik Chattopadhyay Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Chandranath". It is also the first Bengali movie ever released in Calcutta Metro Cinema.
30 1957 Pathe Holo Deri 5 Dec 1957 Mallika Banerjee Agradoot Uttam Kumar A novel by then novelist Ms. Prativa Basu.
31 1957 Jeeban Trishna 25 Dec 1957 Shakuntala Ashit Sen Uttam Kumar
32 1957 Musafir 26 April 1957 Shakuntala Verma Hrishikesh Mukherjee Shekhar Kumar Hindi language
33 1957 Champakali 31 Dec 1957 Rajo Nandlal Jaswantlal Bharat Bhushan Hindi language
34 1958 Rajlakshmi O Srikanta 28 Feb 1958 Rajlakshmi Haridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Rajlakshmi O Shrikanta"
35 1958 Suryatoran 21 Nov 1958 Anita Chatterjee Agradoot Uttam Kumar Based on the 1949 Warner Brothers film "The Fountain Head" written by then Russian-American writer Ayn Rand. Starring Garry Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Messy, Kent Smith, the film was directed by Mr. King Vidor. In the Bengali film "Suryatoran", Suchitra Sen did the role of "Dominique" the main female character which was portrayed by Ms. Patricia Neal in "The Fountainhead".
36 1958 Indrani 10 Oct 1958 Indrani Niren Lahiri Uttam Kumar
37 1959 Deep Jwele Jaai 1 May 1959 Radha Mitra Ashit Sen Basanta Chaudhury Block-buster movie.
38 1959 Chaowa Paowa 27 Feb 1959 Manju Yatrik Uttam Kumar The Story was taken from Samual Hopkins Adams's one of the short stories " Night Bus" publishes in 1933. Director Frank Capra made it later a 1934 Oscar-winning block-buster Hollywood movie "It Happened One Night", starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
39 1960 Hospital 16 Sep 1960 Dr. Sarbari Roy Shushil Majumdar Ashok Kumar
40 1960 Smriti Tuku Thak 23 Sep 1960 Shobha/Utpala Yatrik Ashit Baran / Bikash Roy She first time acted in Double Role in her career
41 1960 Bombai Ka Baboo 2 Dec 1960 Maya Raj Khosla Dev Anand Hindi language
42 1960 Sarhad 9 Sep 1960 Mala Shankar Mukherjee Dev Anand Hindi language
43 1961 Saptapadi 20 Oct 1961 Rina Brown Ajoy Kar Uttam Kumar
44 1962 Bipasha 26 Jan 1962 Bipasha Agradoot Uttam Kumar This was the first film where Suchitra Sen charged Rs. one lakh for doing her role., and this was the first time any Bengali actor (male or Female) received Rs. One Lakh for doing any film acting role. It was a milestone for Bengali movie history.
45 1963 Saat Pake Bandha 22 Mar 1963 Archana Ajay Kar Soumitra Chatterjee
46 1963 Uttar Falguni 11 Oct 1963 Debjani / Pannabai / Suparna Ashit Sen Dilip Mukherjee, Bikash Roy Based on well known Bengali Writer Dr. Nihar Ranjan Gupta's Novel "Uttar Falguni".
47 1964 Sandhya Deeper Sikha 2 Oct 1964 Jayanti Bannerjee Haridas Bhattacharya Dilip Mukherjee, Bikash Roy It was based on Bengali novelist Tarun K. Bhaduri's book Sandhya Deeper Shikha. The movie was also produced by Dilip Mukherjee.
48 1966 Mamta 27 Feb 1966 Devyani / Pannabai / Suparna Asit Sen Dharmendra, Ashok Kumar Hindi version of Bengali film "Uttar Phalguni"
49 1967 Grihadaha 5 May 1967 Achala Subodh Mitra Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Grihadaha"
50 1969 Kamallata 2 Oct 1969 Kamallata Haridas Bhattacharya Uttam Kumar Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel "Kamallata"
51 1970 Megh Kalo 4 Sep 1970 Dr. Nirmalya Roy Shushil Mukherjee Basanta Chaudhury
52 1971 Nabaraag 4 Feb 1971 Bijoy Bose Uttam Kumar
53 1971 Fariyad 5 Nov 1971 Chapa/Ratanmala Bijoy Basu Utpal Dutta
54 1972 Alo Amaar Alo 17 Mar 1972 Atashi Uttam Kumar
55 1972 Har Mana Har 19 Dec 1972 Neera Uttam Kumar
56 1974 Devi Chaudhurani 6 Sep 1974 Prafullamukhi Dinen Gupta Basanta Chaudhury and Ranjit Mallik
57 1974 Srabana Sandhya 25 Jan 1974 Bireswar Basu (??) However, " Shrabana Shandhya's " original name was " Shesy Kothaay " it was half done in 1952 and was never released at that time, after 22 years later it came out and released in Jan 1974, may be it was directed by Bireswar Basu (??), who was the original Director of " Shesy Kothaay " film in 1952 .
58 1975 Priyo Bandhabi 3 Oct 1975 Uttam Kumar
59 1975 Aandhi 13 Feb 1975 Aarti Devi Gulzar Sanjeev Kumar Hindi language
60 1976 Datta 30 Jul 1976 Datta Ajoy Kar Soumitra Chatterjee Based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel Datta
61 1978 Pranay Pasha 9 June 1978 Taposhi Mangal Chakraborty Soumitra Chatterjee This was her last movie released


Sen received 10 awards during her lifetime. In 1963, she became the first Indian actress to receive an international award.


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