Bengali screen legend Soumitra Chatterjee hospitalised with COVID-19

Published : October 06, 2020 21:08 IST

Bengali cinema legend Soumitra Chatterjee has been hospitalised after he tested positive for COVID-19 on October 6. The 85-year-old cultural icon, who is also a cancer survivor, had returned to shooting after the studios reopened and was working on a documentary about his own life. He was apparently feeling unwell for a few days prior to his testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. A three-member medical board has been set up to monitor Soumitra Chatterjee’s condition at the Belle Vue Nursing Home in Kolkata, where he is admitted. According to reports, he is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and has been suffering from mild fever and breathlessness.

Considered one of the biggest stars in Bengali cinema and theatre, Soumitra received worldwide fame for his work in Satyajit Ray’s films (Soumitra had starred in 14 of Ray’s movies). For more than 60 years he has strode the cultural world of Bengal like a colossus. In 2012 he was given the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, and in 2018, he was honoured by the government of France with the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur – the highest civilian award in France. Twenty-nine years earlier, on February 2, 1989, Satyajit Ray was also conferred the prestigious award. Soumitra was also awarded the Commandeur de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artistes.

Age and illness did little to curb the versatile thespian’s productivity. This year alone, seven of his films have been released. According to reports, he just finished shooting another film before contracting COVID. Soumitra’s genius is not confined to the screen and stage alone. He has published several volumes of poetry that have been critically acclaimed and has also dabbled in painting. As news of his illness came out, millions of distraught fans across the country and abroad expressed their concern on social media and wished him a speedy recovery.