Santiniketan bookstore recalls the time of Soumitra Chatterjee

Santiniketan talks about actor’s adda sessions and simplicity

Bengal cultural icon Soumitra Chatterjee, who passed away on Sunday, had never wanted to miss a thing whenever he was in Santiniketan – an adda to the popular bookstore and intellectual center of the city, Subarnarekha.

“It was a must for Soumitrababu to come to our adda whenever he was in Santiniketan. He enjoyed the conversations and interactions with several senior teachers, academics and intellectuals from Santiniketan. The discussions covered a wide range of topics and issues, ”said Sujit Chatterjee, an 83-year-old resident of Santiniketan and chairman of the ten-year-old Bikhshan Film Company.

The elders, accustomed to frequenting Subarnarekha, remember having seen Soumitra engage in a lively discussion on several occasions in the company of the literary man Sunil Gangopadhyay and the poet Shakti Chattopadhyay.

Samiran Nandy, a retired photographer from Visva-Bharati, said he first saw Soumitra in Santiniketan in September 1978 and later met him frequently during adda sessions in Subarnarekha.

“I spent so many memorable evenings with the legend during the adda sessions in Subarnarekha. We used to sit there as a listener and comment infrequently. We tried to hear and absorb his scholarship and knowledge on a wide range of topics, ”Nandy said.

Nandy said what was endearing about him was that he never used to flaunt his fame.

“He was in all respects a cerebral actor whose knowledge was immense. We were able to take advantage of these sessions because the torture of autograph hunters and selfie seekers was not there those days, ”Nandy added.

“Soumitrababu did not talk about his profession during the adda sessions, but spent time discussing various books, poems and what stood out was his sense of humor and wit,” he added. .

Soumitra also had personal ties with several people in Santiniketan.

In 2009, the veteran actor came to visit the Rabindranath Tagore Museum in Rabindra Bhavana for an interview with his special officer Nilanjan Banerjee for a radio show about the bard.

“He was really versatile because he had a deep knowledge of Tagore and his works,” said Banerjee who had known Soumitra for many years as he was part of the production unit of an English film shot in 2001 in Santiniketan.

“She was a really nice person. One day he suddenly asked me to take him to the local cinema because he wanted to watch Aamir Khan’s movie Lagaan. We took a rickshaw and went to the Gitanjali auditorium to watch the movie. He enjoyed the film. It was so simple, ”recalls Nilanjan Banerjee.

Elders, however, said that Soumitra’s visits to Subarnarekha became less frequent after the death of bookstore owner Indranath Majumder in 2013.

Soumitra last visited Santiniketan in 2019 and told his close friends that he felt happy whenever he had the opportunity to visit Santiniketan.

However, his last trip was not marked by a visit to Subarnarekha and from Sunday onwards the countless sessions that Soumitra had attended at the bookstore have gone down in history.

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