Remembering Suchitra Sen: A Legendary Bengali Actress and Her Refusal to Work with Raj Kapoor


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Suchitra Sen was a well-known actress in Bengali cinema from the 1950s to the 1970s. She was often compared to Greta Garbo for her ability to step away from the limelight after an illustrious time in the film industry. Though she appeared in a few Hindi films, she was highly selective when it came to choosing the movies she wanted to work in, regardless of the language.

It is famously known that Suchitra Sen turned down Satyajit Ray’s offer to act exclusively in his film as she had other commitments. In Hindi cinema, Suchitra worked with Dilip Kumar in the 1955 film Devdas, but her most famous role was in Gulzar’s Aandhi, where she played a character that was said to be based on Indira Gandhi. However, few know that she also declined to work with Raj Kapoor because she “did not like his personality.”

In an interview for Amitabha Choudhury’s book, Aamar Bondhu Suchitra Sen, she revealed that she rejected Raj Kapoor’s offer almost immediately. She stated, “In men, I don’t look for beauty. I look for intelligence and sharp conversations. He came to my residence offering a lead role and, as I took my seat, he suddenly sat near my foot and offered me a bouquet of roses while offering the role. I rejected the offer. I did not like his personality. The way he behaved – sitting near my foot – did not befit a man.”

Suchitra also shared that she had a great friendship with Sanjeev Kumar, her co-star in Aandhi. She said, “I made good friendship with Sanjeev Kumar, who was a wonderful person. And he was a good actor as well. He used to contact me every time he visited Kolkata and came to my place.”

Aandhi was one of Suchitra Sen’s last films. After that, she appeared in only two more films – Datta in 1976 and Pranay Pasha in 1978. Suchitra Sen passed away in January 2014.