Victor Banerjee
Banerjee in 2013
Born (1946-10-15) 15 October 1946 (age 77)
Calcutta, India
OccupationActor
Years active1977–present
SpouseMaya Bhate Banerjee
Children2
Awards Padma Bhushan (2022)

Victor Banerjee (born 15 October 1946) is an Indian actor who appears in English, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese language films. He has worked with great directors such as Roman Polanski, James Ivory, Sir David Lean, Jerry London, Ronald Neame, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Montazur Rahman Akbar and Ram Gopal Varma. He won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Ghare Baire. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, in 2022 by the Indian Government in the field of art.[1][2]

Early life and education

Banerjee was born in a Zamindari Bengali Hindu family. He is a descendant of the Raja Bahadur of Chanchal (Malda District) and the Raja of Uttarpara.

Banerjee completed his schooling from St. Edmund's School, Shillong. He completed his graduation in English literature from St. Xavier's College, Calcutta; he then finished his post graduation in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University.

He turned down a scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin, which was offered to him, through the Irish Christian Brothers, for admission as an operatic tenor.

Personal life

Banerjee had an abiding interest in theatre in the early years. While in Calcutta, he performed in plays for the British Council, British Women's Association and the theatre group Amateurs. He was the lead tenor in the Calcutta Light Opera Group production of The Desert Song,. During his time in Bombay he performed for the Cambridge Society, director Arun Sachdev and also played Jesus in Bombay Theatre's first ever musical production, Godspell. He also played senior division hockey and football in the Bengal League in the 1960s. During the 1991 Uttarkashi Earthquake, he actively participated in relief work. He single-handedly led five mules loaded with relief materials plus carried a backpack of 30 kg (66 lb) of milk and medicines to Pinswar village (which is beyond the tree line) just before the first winter snowfall and before the Govt supplies reached. In December 1999, he and his wife Maya brought in the new millennium with hands-on participation in relief work in cyclone-devastated Orissa which included rebuilding mud huts and clearing animal carcasses. The Moran Blind School in Assam founded by his father Maj S.N. Banerjee in 1971 is an Institution which Banerjee continues to nurture and develop. Under his stewardship, it is now a full-fledged residential school. Recently, the students were the semi-finalists in the North East Blind Football Championship and rated by a Bangalore-based organisation as one of the best schools for visually challenged students. He is the Brand Ambassador of the Srimants Sankaradeva Society of Assam and the Bird Watchers Society of Uttarakhand and the Goodwill Ambassador of the Dimasa Tribe of the Northeast Hill Tracts. He divides his time between his homes in Landour in Uttarakhand and in Kolkata.

He has a daughter who was a reputable VFX supervisor for 16 years[3] His other daughter, a former Scientist, is settled in the U.S.

Art aficionado

Banerjee established The Calcutta Art Gallery in the late 1970s which was the first commercial art gallery in the city. He brought in renowned artists such as M. F. Husain, Jehangir Sabavala, Anjolie Ela Menon, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Sakti Burman, and many others to exhibit. He also actively promoted new talent and artists like Shyamal Roy had their first shows in the Gallery.[4]

Film career

In 1984, Banerjee portrayed Dr. Aziz Ahmed in David Lean's film of A Passage to India, bringing him to the attention of western audiences.[5] He was nominated for a BAFTA award for the role in 1986, and won the Evening Standard British Film Award and NBR Award (National Board Review, USA) for it. In April 1985, Banerjee received the "Show-a-Rama Award" from the Motion Picture Association of America as "New International Star".

He acted in Merchant Ivory Productions Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures, Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khilari and Ghare Baire and in Mrinal Sen's Mahaprithivi. On the set of Gunday starring Priyanka Chopra, Mr. Banerjee has said that he feels "all work is a challenge and therefore fun".[6]

Though has been involved with Bollywood in recent years, Banerjee is primarily associated with the Bengali film industry. He also plays character roles from time to time in the British cinema.

He was also cast in the critically acclaimed role of "Jesus" in the 1988 production of the York Mystery Plays, by director Steven Pimlott. He was the first Asian to play a lead role in British Theatre.

In 1991, BBC and CBC of Canada produced a documentary titled Return Journey, directed by John McGreevy. Banerjee, Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa and Jackie Stewart were featured as celebrities who refused to live away from their home countries.

Banerjee is the only person in India who has won the National Award in three categories: as a cinematographer, for his documentary Where No Journeys End (which, in competition with 3100 entries from 27 countries, also won the Gold Award at the Houston International Film Festival); as a director, for his documentary The Splendour of Garhwal and Roopkund; and as an actor (Best Supporting Actor) for his work in Satyajit Ray's Ghare Baire.

Filmography

Awards and nominations

Civilian Awards

Film awards

Year Award Film Category Result Ref.
1986 BAFTA Awards A Passage to India Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominated [9]
1986 Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards Ghare Baire Best Actor Won
1997 Lathi Won
1985 Evening Standard British Film Awards A Passage to India Best Actor Won
1984 National Board of Review Awards Best Actor Won [10]
1985 National Film Awards Ghare Baire Best Supporting Actor Won [11]

Political career

Banerjee unsuccessfully contested the 1991 Lok Sabha election in Calcutta North West from the Bharatiya Janata Party. He got 89,155 votes and stood third.[12]

As an active member of the BJP, he was critical of Mulayam Singh Yadav's order to shoot the Karsevaks who had once climbed the Babri Masjid prior to its demolition.[13]

He has been highly critical of what he called Navjot Singh Sidhu's pacifist attitude to terrorism exported from Pakistan.[14]

References

  1. ^ "Padma Awards 2022: Complete list of recipients". mint. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Padma Honours: Victor Banerjee To Receive Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri For Sonu Nigam". NDTV. 26 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Victor Banerjee's daughter walks a different road - bollywood news : glamsham.com". www.glamsham.com. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Calcutta becomes new vogue-city in business of art, Bengal painters emerge from the shadows". India Today. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  5. ^ "The return of Victor Banerjee - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  6. ^ "I have a kitchen to run: Victor Banerjee defends his brief role in 'Gunday'". News18. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  7. ^ Pisharoty, Sangeeta Barooah (17 April 2014). "A struggle still". The Hindu. Delhi. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Padma Awards 2022 List: CDS General Bipin Rawat among recipients; Full List of Padma Awards winners". Jagranjosh.com. 21 March 2022. Retrieved 22 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Awards Database: Search our record of winners & nominees, Year of Presentation: 1986, Award: Film". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 19 January 2020.
  10. ^ National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards for 1984
  11. ^ "32nd National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  12. ^ "PC: Calcutta North West 1991". Indiavotes.com. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  13. ^ Banerjee, Victor. "A CHRISTENING IN BLOOD". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Victor Banerjee Slams Navjot Singh Sidhu". Business Standard India. 9 March 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2021.