The world calls him Harindranath Chattopadhyay but for Bengalis he is the one and only Sidhu Jyatha.
Sidhu Jyatha. Satyajit Ray’s eternal creation.The walking encyclopaedia. The man who came before Google. If Feluda was the Sherlock, Sidhu Jyatha was his Mycroft Holmes. A genius, a polymath. A man of true learning. The man who could have been anything in life but instead decided to learn and keep the windows of his mind open.
A character like no other. A kohinoor among gems.
However, Sidhu Jyatha’s real life avatar Harindranath Chattopadhyay was no less a master. A incredibly talented man, he spent his life learning and growing.
Here are some interesting facets and facts on Harindranath Chattopadhyay.
- Apart from being an actor in Bengali and Hindi films and theatre, he was also a first rate musician.
- The first Lok Sabha of India was elected in 1951. He was a member of that historic Lok Sabha after winning from Vijaywada.
- His father Aghornath Chattopadhyaya was a very learned man. He was first Indian Doctorate of Science in India and a scientist, philosopher and educationist. Equally his mother was known for her poetry and singing. His sister was the respected Sarojini Naidu.
- Harindranath Chattopadhyay also wrote lyrics for songs in Hindi movies.
- He acted in about twenty Hindi films. Probably his best role was in Bawarchi, the Hindi version of Golpo Holeo Sotti.
- Harindranath Chattopadhyay acted in only three Bengali films but it was such a magnum opus, we still remember those fondly. All these three films were made by Satyajit Ray.
- He was Barfi in Goopi Gayne Bagha Bayne, Sir Baren Roy in Seemabaddha and Sidhu Jyatha in Sonar Kella.
- He was awarded the Padmabhushan in 1973.
- Here is a short clip of a rare interview of Harindranath Chattopadhyay in Doordarshan that shows how humble yet extraordinary he was –
- Harindranath Chattopadhyay also wrote beautiful poetry and his poems were very popular. He recited poems in All India Radio. It is said that Rabindranath Tagore himself liked his poetry so much that he wanted to translate it from English to Bengali.
Here is a beautifully penned poem by Harindranath Chattopadhyay –
In days gone by I used to be
A potter who would feel
His fingers mould the yielding clay
To patterns on his wheel;
But now, through wisdom lately won,
That pride has gone away,
I have ceased to be the potter
And have learned to be the clay.
In other days I used to be
A poet through whose pen
Innumerable songs would come
To win the hearts of men;
But now, through new-got knowledge
Which I hadn’t had so long,
I have ceased to be the poet
And have learned to be the song.
I was a fashioner of swords,
In days that now are gone,
Which on a hundred battle-fields
Glittered and gleamed and shone;
But now I am brimming with
The silence of the Lord,
I have ceased to be sword-maker
And have learned to be the sword.
In by-gone days I used to be
A dreamer who would hurl
On every side an insolence
Of emerald and pearl.
But now I am kneeling
At the feet of the Supreme
I have ceased to be the dreamer
And have learned to be the dream.