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Soumitra Chatterjee and the idea of a sensitive man


Within the film world, as actors progressively carry out they uncover sure features about them. These features lend them distinctness. This distinctness turns into their identification. Then the story turns into prosaic and predictable. Such actors spawn an array of comparable characters. As these actors turn out to be fashionable and acquire mass acceptance, they precede the tales of their movies. They turn out to be the ‘story’ of their movies in a noticeable method. They occupy a big a part of narratives. In a sure sense, they negate the significance of ‘story’ in a movie.

However there are just a few actors whose works present a unique sample. Tales choose them. Tales embrace them. Tales forge a deep reference to them. Tales derive their wonderful existence by them. These actors don’t emerge like an unplanned second of life. They emerge as these moments which can go unnoticed as they unfold. However one understands and pines for these moments extra intensely solely after they disappear. The explanation behind that is these actors don’t simply characterize characters within the method of their performances. They characterize an concept. Soumitra Chatterjee was one such actor who represented an concept. And the concept was of a ‘delicate man’.

In cinema, the ‘concept of a delicate man’ acquires totally different meanings at totally different factors for viewers. When a viewer could be very younger, the concept might contact her or him personally in a extremely subjective method. She or he could possibly be imagining a narrative virtually unrelated to this concept and connecting with it. As the identical viewer grows older, she or he develops “sympathy” in direction of the concept. And because the viewer matures in age, she or he develops “empathy” in direction of this concept largely due to “lived” private experiences and nostalgia. On this method, the viewer’s identification with the “concept of a delicate man” turns into stronger, concrete, extra significant and devoid of complicated sentimentality. Chatterjee’s first movie Apur Sansar—launched in 1959—establishes this affiliation of “concept of a delicate man” with him amply.

In Apur Sansar, there’s a life-like circulation to the build-up to the purpose when Apu is knowledgeable about Aparna’s demise. Alongside the railway tracks, whereas strolling he’s studying a letter from Aparna. The letter intensifies the bond of affection between Apu and Aparna. The tender, adequately pronounced and the receding sound of the prepare engine which creates wholesome silence for eager appreciation of every phrase within the letter. Every letter serves as a brick which helps assemble a dam that restricts the circulation of the superfluous waters of the actual world into the world that springs up from the letter. After studying the letter, the aware want to guard the kid from any untoward occasion alongside the railway tracks and putting her on a charpoy is an extension of the love that permeates his soul. On this temper of intoxicating love, he reaches the home. Murari, his brother in regulation, utters the phrase “Aparna” and thru his sombre tone and manner, Apu dreads what his thoughts instantly conveys to him. The gradual passing of the prepare, once more, within the background signifies the closure of an previous journey and a painful starting of a brand new journey. The extreme strumming of the sitar displays the shaken world of his love. The moments when the phrases attain his ears to verify what he thought, there’s a swift inner transformation in Apu. His helplessness conveyed within the facet look of the trembling of his physique provides rise to a slap which makes Murari lose his steadiness and he falls. The slap quantities to closing the door to the world of Aparna which was so blossoming just a few moments in the past. At this level the journey of the concept of a delicate man turns into much more necessary. As Apu slaps Murari, he virtually drags himself to the room and shuts its door. This tendency to take care of one’s ache in solitude or away from the world and being out there to the world in much less painful, bearable or glad moments sowed the seeds of the “concept of a delicate man” in Chatterjee’s efficiency.

It’s a totally different form of sensitivity. Many a time, one usually errors “being sensitive” as “being delicate.” There’s a appreciable quantity of empathy in his sensitivity. He wouldn’t punish folks unrelated to his distress as they strategy him. He wouldn’t indulge within the distress and act tremendously egocentric by making his “distress” distinctive. He’s the person who not solely deeply cared for Aparna but in addition in regards to the influence of the slap on Murari. He’s the person who leaves earlier than issues flip ugly or grotesque. This capability to replicate on one’s actions makes their sensitivity price emulating and appreciating. His actions are unplanned and derive a substantial quantity of motivation from feelings somewhat than sound logic. Thus, Apur Sansar marked the start of this affiliation of the concept of a delicate man with Chatterjee.

This concept turns into much more evocative and reaches its peak within the movie Charulata. Amal’s abrupt leaving of Bhupati’s home which served as the one place the place he might expertise the depth and the ability of affection is a choice which solely an empathetic delicate man would take. Amal’s sensitivity is just not so egocentric that he forgets what Bhupati means to him. His sensitivity derives its energy from the power inside him which makes him realise the one method to resolve the ethical dilemma and the extraordinary attachment with Charulata is to go away. One is reminded of a couplet in a poem of poet Sahir Ludhianvi which matches: Woh Afsana Jise Anjam Tak Laana Na Ho Mumkin Use Ek Khubsurat Mode De Kar Chhodna Accha. To place it loosely, it means if one can’t obtain the goal of what has began or entered into, it’s higher to finish it at a fantastic level. This grace is what Amal in Charulata typifies and provides to the appeal of the concept of a delicate man related to Chatterjee virtually all through his profession.

This concept grew to become virtually an indicator of most performances of Chatterjee. This consists of Ghare Bhaire (1980), Ganashatru (1989), Shakha Proshakha (1990), and Abhijan (1962) amongst different movies. In actual fact, to emerge as a consultant concept in Ray’s movies speaks volumes of the performing expertise and the manner of Chatterjee. Ray’s movies are extra of a symphony the place the gamers haven’t any or little room to deviate from the notes given to them within the presence of a delicate but uncompromising conductor. Chatterjee might obtain this due to three issues. One is linked to his face. It’s the construction. On the peak of his performing profession, it resembled a protracted and pointed sacred fig-leaf. On this construction, nature fastidiously instilled virtually all options essential for a vibe of a delicate man: huge and expressive eyes, nostril which has not-so-perfect bridge which didn’t appear imperious however had softness and magnificence and the presence of fullness of flesh wherever it enhanced the face’s handsomeness introduced a definite appeal to Chatterjee’s performances. On this context, even when he performed the destructive position of Soumitra in Mrinal Sen’s movie Akash Kusum (1965), the efficiency didn’t evoke revulsion in viewers. The viewers felt for him as they understood that every one the lies Soumitra concocts are nearly hiding his poverty. It appeared that his deception didn’t have the smack of ugliness. It is because it remained restricted within the realm of flawed world and by no means touched the nadir of inhumanity. Therefore, on the finish of the movie when Soumitra’s character waves at Aparna Sen’s character, she smiles and waves again. She doesn’t present him indifference.

The second facet which added to the affiliation of the concept of a delicate man with Chatterjee is his theatre background. His theatre experiences—each within the capability of an actor and a director— added to the sensitivity of his performances. In an interview with Wilderness Films India that he mentions that he wrote the biography of Apu’s character within the type of a diary, which confirmed his extent of involvement in understanding the characters he performed. Thirdly, Chatterjee himself was a poet. He was a prolific poet publishing twelve books of poetry alongside a protracted performing profession of over 300 movies as an actor.

In a protracted affiliation of near thirty-five years, Chatterjee labored in fourteen of 37 movies directed by Ray. A query that will happen to viewers is why didn’t Ray forged Chatterjee in his Calcutta Trilogy movies— Pratidwandi (The Adversary) (1970) Seemabaddha (Firm Restricted) (1971) Jana Aranya (The Intermediary) (1976). These movies had characters which had a specific amount of sensitivity in them. A believable foundation for this could possibly be the sensitivity of those characters didn’t match the sensitivity which Chatterjee’s performances’ represented. Their sensitivity is extra like French author Albert Camus’s character Meursault within the novel The Outsider. They’re passive and virtually at all times are exterior the system. And after they conform to the system they attain some extent the place ugliness stares again at them coldly. The sensitivity related to Chatterjee’s characters would avert such some extent in a story.

Within the passing of Soumitra Chatterjee, it’s clearly evident, Indian cinema has misplaced this concept of a delicate man. At present, when patriarchy and behavioural patterns related to it are being fiercely challenged and questioned like by no means earlier than, there’s a deeply-desired want amongst liberal and progressive-minded folks to goal for the delicate man which was championed by Soumitra Chatterjee’s characters. It is because this delicate man understands human feelings extra deeply and empathetically.

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