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Anil Chattopadhyay - the man who lived every character

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The thought of being an actor never occurred to him. Accidentally, Anil Chattopadhyay was present in a studio where a selected artist was not present. This gave him an opportunity to share screen space with the legendary comedian Tulsi Chakraborty in the movie Jog Biyog. Chattopadhyay’s acting skills had left the legend simply spellbound. Tulsi Chakraborty had forgotten his dialogues while listening to Chattopadhyay’s dialogues.

Often considered as the simpleton and a perfect bhadrolok, Anil Chattopadhyay was led by two ideologies in life-- live to fullest and leave a mark.While talking about Anil Chattopadhyay, the image that always comes to our mind is his carefree face and emotions that drip down the song ‘Bisshoye Tai Jaage’ as he leaps down the meadows in Ritwik Ghatak’s legendary movie Komal Gandhar. The magic of movies had influenced Chattopadhyay so much that he left his well-paid job and became the assistant director to Ardhendu Mukhopaddhyay. He also gave an audition for the post of an announcer in Akashvani Kolkata where he stood first and Soumitro Chatterjee came second. But there was only post and Anil Chatterjee voluntarily left the post. 

He was indeed a kind soul and loved people. He often treated them to lunch and dinner. His generosity was often reflected when he paid the bills of surrounding tables while on a dinner. Unless the food arrived, Chattopadhyay would engage in stimulating adda sessions and would also draw surreal sketches with pens on postcards.

He had acted in more than 150 films during 1950s-1980s which included Bengali and Hindi films. He explored various shades as an actor though mostly he was seen in character roles. But the audience thoroughly loved watching him on screen. He is one of the few actors who had the privilege of working with maestros like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and Tapan Sinha. Whichever film he laid his hands upon, he ended up leaving an inedible impression on the minds of the critics and viewers. 

Born in Kolkata, on October 25, 1929, Chattopadhyay graduated from St. Xavier's College. Previously, he completed his schooling from Delhi and stood first in entire North India in the Senior Cambridge Examinations. During his college days, he came in close association with Utpal Dutta and acted in plays directed by him. This experience of working with Utpal Dutta helped him later in acting in movies.In 1959, Anil Chattopadhyay was seen in a small yet significant role in ‘Nagarik’- the masterpiece of Ghatak. His second film with Ghatak was ‘Ajatrik’ in 1958 where Chattopadhyay played an important role though the film failed to gain commercial access. In 1957, he shot to fame with the help of Naresh Mitra directed ‘Ulki’ where the role of Sudhir earned him thetitle of ‘romantic hero’.

Anil Chattopadhyay acted in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Debi’ in 1960. In 1961, he played an extraordinary role in ‘Postmaster,’a unique story of affection between a postmaster and a young girl Ratan. He was honoured at the Berlin Film Festival in 1964 for his splendid acting in 'Mahanagar'. In the same year, he was honoured at the Mexico Acapulco Film Festival.

Chattopadhyay was a personal favourite of Tapan Sinha. He had worked with Sinha in many of his films like ‘Louhokopat’, ‘Jatugriho’, ‘Sagina Mahato’, ‘Atanka’ and ‘Aaj Ka Robinhood.’ Apart from these films, Anil Chattopadhyay also acted in many other important films like Deep Jele Jai, Khuje Berai, Notun Jibon and other films. His performance as Deshbandhu Chittaranjan left Deshbandhu’s daughter in tears. All she could say was, “Mone holo onekdin  por Baba kedeklam”(Seems like I met my father after a long time). 

From 1980, Anil Chatterjee started withdrawing himself from the industry and spent a lot of time in drawing and doing oil painting. On March 17, 1996, Chatterjee breathed his last. But he still lives in our hearts in the form of myriad roles he played throughout his entire career. Who can ever forget Emon bandhu aarke ache, tomar moto sister!