Award comes “too late in the day” for Soumitra

Soumitra Chatterjee  

Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: For Soumitra Chatterjee, winner of the 54th National Film Award for Best Actor, the award comes “too late in the day.”

“Personally, after decades of acting, I do not attach too much value to it,” Mr. Chatterjee told The Hindu while in the midst of shooting on Tuesday.

The exuberance was unmistakably missing. For the veteran Bengali actor, the award was more an acknowledgement of the appreciation of his performances “by those who have got to like me over more than 50 years of acting.” He is glad for them — those who have been calling him “incessantly” over the phone since word got around that the award had gone to him.

Mr. Chatterjee was declared winner of the award for his performance in the Bengali film, “Podokkhep.”

One of those who “fully believes that the award has come too late” for Mr. Chatterjee is Buddhadeb Dasgupta, himself an award-winning director and chairman of the feature film jury for the 54th National Film Award.

“He should have been given the award a long time back but yet, we [the jury] thought a chance had come to honour him by doing so this time around,” said Mr. Dasgupta.

“The decision was unanimous; all in the jury liked his acting,” he said.

“I spoke to the rest of the jury about Soumitra Chatterjee and we discussed his great contribution to Indian cinema. His signature will remain on cinema for time immemorial.”

The award, of course, was in recognition of his performance in “Podokkhep”, but Mr. Chatterjee had “done incredibly well in other films too including those of Satyajit Ray,” he said. “Here was a chance to acknowledge the contributions of a great actor to cinema.”