Friends, fellow film personalities and government heads alike in India are mourning the passing of legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee.
Satyajit Ray's son and director Sandip Ray said, "I've lost a member of my family. He shared a wonderful chemistry with my father. He gave a lot of thought to the characters my father created."
Sandip said Soumitra's most favourite role was that of Gangacharan in "Ashani Sanket" in which renowned Bangladeshi actress Babita played the role of a Brahmin priest's wife, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
"He was so involved in the project that he even pushed the trolley when there was a manpower shortage one day," Ray's son recalled.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed condolences on the passing away of Soumitra Chatterjee.
In a tweet, Modi said, "Shri Soumitra Chatterjee's death is a colossal loss to the world of cinema, cultural life of West Bengal and India. Through his works, he came to embody Bengali sensibilities, emotions and ethos. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti."
Mamata said Chatterjee was a "fighter who will be celebrated for his works and his death has delivered an irreparable blow to the film fraternity of the country."
Mamata, who rushed to the private hospital where the thespian was admitted and died earlier today, said Chatterjee took part in several mass movements.
"I had spoken to him (Soumitra Chatterjee) over phone when he was admitted on October 6 after testing positive for COVID-19. He was very confident. Although he has passed away, COVID-19 could not defeat him as he had already recovered from the deadly disease," Mamata told reporters in Kolkata.
She said in a statement, "Feluda (the role that Chatterjee played in two mystery films by Satyajit Ray) is no more. Apu (of Ray's immortal 'Apur Sansar') said goodbye. Farewell, Soumitra (Da) Chatterjee. He has been a legend in his lifetime. International, Indian and Bengali cinema has lost a giant. We will miss him dearly."
Aparna Sen, Soumitra's co-actor, said "He was my first hero. I was only 14 when we first met. I used to call him uncle at that time. He and his wife were friends of our family. I became his friend too as I grew up. I can't believe he is no more."
Sharmila Tagore, who played the role of Apu's wife in "Apur Sansar", told a television channel, "We were hoping that he would recover. I lost a very old friend, a very dear friend and a very loyal friend. He left a legacy. He is associated with Ray but he gave wonderful performances while working with other directors as well. He was a very erudite person. I remember listening to him and actor Subhendu Chatterjee as they discussed politics and literature for hours when we were shooting in the outdoor location for Ray's 'Aranyer Din Ratri'."