Soumitra Chatterjee is an iconic Bengali film and stage actor, theatre director, playwright, essayist and elocutionist. He won international acclaim for his role as Apu in the Satyajit Ray-directed Apu Trilogy, “Pather Panchali”, “Apur Sansar” and “Aparajita”. His role as detective Feluda in another Satyajit Ray-directed film, “Shonar Kella” won him a place of pride in the hearts of every Bengali.

Soumitra Chatterjee will be in the city to perform in a musical, “Hey Bondhu Bidaye” (Farewell My Friend), which is an adaptation of famous novel by Rabrindranath Tagore “Shesher Kobita”. It will be staged at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall on July 2. The play is a tribute to Tagore on his 150{+t}{+h} birth anniversary.

The director of the play is Amit Ranjan Biswas, who will also play the role of Rabrindranath. The cast includes Bidipta Chakraborty Sreela Majumdar and vocalists Aniruddha Sinha and Paramita Bandyopadhyay.

Excerpts from an interview:

Rabindranath Tagore's plays, poems and songs have a universal appeal, what do you think is the core of this play?

The message of the play is that it is not always the confirmation of love that is important; loving itself is the ultimate goal of life.

Tagore is a literary giant relevant for all times, but do you think today's generation is reading him less?

I agree Tagore is being much less read, but it is through occasions like Rabindranath Tagore's 150 Birth Anniversary that we can help wake people up and come together to pay tribute to the great poet. But I am happy that currently Tagore's plays are being performed more frequently.

Why did you choose to act in “Hey Bondhu Bidaye”?

About thirty years ago, a similar play based on “Shesher Kobita” was staged. I played the role of the protagonist Amit, which I enjoyed greatly. The audience appreciated the play, and there was a huge demand to see me in Amit's role.

Which aspect of Amit's character do you relate to the most?

What I found interesting about the script was Amit's love for not only his beloved, but also for literature that sparkles throughout the script like diamonds. So, being a lover of literature myself, I felt a deep connection with Amit's character.

Do you think the quality of Bengali films have declined over the years?

Yes, today's Bengali films don't have good stories and strong scripts. Bengali films of the '50s, '60s and even '70s are timeless because of the outstanding calibre of the directors of those days. Although some interesting films are being made even now, today's directors should be more open to experimentation.

Which do you prefer, theatre or film?

Both. I love acting in films, but theatre gives me more scope to express my creativity, I don't just act in plays, I get to write scripts and compose music, even.

(Tickets for the play are priced at Rs 500, 350, 250 and 150, Call: 9845447130.)