Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee, 82, has been selected for the highest French civilian honour, the Legion d’Honneur, PTI reported on Sunday. The award will be presented to the Kolkata-based actor by the French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler, said IANS.
“To be honoured in the same league as my mentor [Satyajit Ray] is unbelievable because one does not work keeping awards and prizes in mind. One works for the love of the job,” Chatterjee told IANS. “There must be something in my work that won over hearts abroad. As a Bengali, I feel proud and as one who has been inspired by French art and cinema, I feel it’s a special honour.”
However, Chatterjee rejected any comparisons between him and legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who received the award 30 years ago. “No comparisons can be drawn between me and Manikda [Ray],” he said. “He is a titan and I am nowhere near him.” However, Chatterjee admitted he was happy that he was getting the same honour as Ray.
The actor first worked with Ray in Apur Sansar in 1959. He had also worked in Ray’s Abhijan (1962), Charulata (1964), Aranyer Din Ratri (1969), Ashani Sanket (1973), Sonar Kella (1974), Joi Baba Felunath (1978), Ghare Baire (1984) and Ganashatru (1989).
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted congratulating the actor. People from the Bengali film industry also congratulated him.
Chatterjee has previously been conferred with the Commandeur de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artistes, and India’s highest cinematic honour, the Dadasaheb Phalke award.