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Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee to receive Legion d’Honneur

Mumbai: Thespian Soumitra Chatterjee has been conferred with the highest French civilian honour, the Legion d’Honneur.

“I am happy and it is a great honour. I got the letter from the French Embassy yesterday and they said they will be coming over here to give me the award. I communicated to them that we will decide on a mutually convenient date,” Chatterjee told PTI.

The 82-year-old veteran actor, who is getting the honour 30 years after legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray had received the same, said, “No comparisons can be drawn between me and Manikda (as Ray is fondly called by his followers). He is a titan and I am nowhere near him.”

“But yes it makes me happy that I am also getting the same honour which was given to Manikda,” he added.

The actor first worked with Ray in ‘Apur Sansar’ in 1959, the third part of the Apu trilogy.

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).

Congratulating the legend, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “From ‘Apur Sansar’ to Legion d Honour. The legendary Shri Soumitra Chattopadhyay, hallmark of Indian and Bengali cinema. A tribute and honour to the great actor of Bengali cinema by France. This makes us very proud. Congratulations. (sic).”

Others from the Bengali film fraternity also congratulated Chatterjee.

Prosenjit Chatterjee tweeted, “Kaku you are a true inspiration…Pronam for #Legion d’Honneur..second person from our industry after Ray to b honoured..Respect. (sic).”

Director Atanu Ghosh, who directed Chatterjee in several films in the past, posted “Privileged that we got to live and work with him. Hearty congratulations to the living legend on being bestowed with the Legion d’Honneur.”

Members of Ray family expressed delight over the news.

“We got the news yesterday. And it is a matter of pride that he is getting the honour 30 years after father,” they said.

Chatterjee has previously been conferred with the Commandeur de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artistes and is the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award which is India’s highest award in cinema.

PTI