The song goes….”Kake Jeno Bhalobeshe Aghat Peyeje Sheyshey, Pagla Garode Achhe Roma Rai…..” Who is this Roma Rai? Why did the lyricist choose this name for his song “Coffee Houser Shei Addata”? The name Roma does not fit anyone else but the one and only Roma –Suchitra Sen! The name itself is as iconic as the legendary actress Suchitra herself! Did the song writer use the name unknowingly? Or did he have the real Roma in mind while writing the line? In the song he says Roma loved someone but in the end was badly hurt. She could not bear the pain and lost her mental balance; now she resides in a mental asylum, behind bars.
We know the real life Roma, Suchitra Sen, had also put up invisible bars around her for the last 30 plus years and lived the life of a recluse, away from the din of life, until death took her away to the other realm. Why? Did she, like the Roma in the song, love someone too and was hurt in the process? Was the pain of the unfulfilled love unbearable hence she wanted to suffer in silence, in solitude? This part of her life remained shrouded in mystery for the last 30 plus years of her life.
When she paired with debonair co-actor Uttam Kumar in a number of popular movies and played the role of a romantic heroine with great passion, the audience thought there was real romance going on between the two. They were apt to discern love oozing out of her large eyes when she looked at Uttam Kumar in a romantic scene. Her dreamy eyes seemed to be saying something when her lips said something else. The eyes of Uttam Kumar reciprocated with equal and intense emotion that happened only when he acted with her. Why? Was it real romance? But it was not to be! Both of them were married at that time, therefore a real life affair was out of the question.
It is very difficult to say how much of the on screen romance between the two had actually touched their hearts off screen. Both Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar were good friends and invited one another to family parties. When she was at the zenith of her popularity, her husband died. And years later, Uttam Kumar and his wife Goury Devi went for a separation. Uttam and Suchitra continued to act in films as lead pairs. Many of the fans of the two thought they would make a great couple in real life and wished they would tie the nuptial knot. Nothing could stop them from doing it if they had wanted to. But for some strange and unknown reasons it didn't happen. The fans of the two were utterly disappointed. They were further disappointed when Uttam began living with Supriya Chatterjee.
Uttam Kumar did not live long after that. If there was anything special in his heart for Suchitra it burnt to ashes on the pyre with his mortal remains. Some years later, Suchitra Sen chose to go beyond the public eye and created the invisible line around her in her own residence. She chose to live the rest of her life with some cherished memories. What were in those memories? No one will know it anymore. If there was romance and love for Uttam Kumar in her heart it is now floating on the River Ganga along with her ashes.
The writer is Senior Suppliment Editor, The Daily Star