What’s the only thing that comes to our mind when we think of Tapen Chatterjee?
Goopy Gayen. The man with an innocent smile and mesmerizing voice.
Tapen Chatterjee was born on September 3, 1937 in Kolkata. He pursued his academics only and went on to become an engineer. Travelling far away from Kolkata he had settle in Rajasthan due to his work. He had no interest and no experience in acting.
But fate had something else in store for him.
Tapen Chatterjee returned to his hometown and by chance, started to work in Sandesh. Sandesh was the amazing and adored children’s magazine run by the legendary Satyajit Ray.
Tapen Chatterjee had a job in the advertisement department of the magazine. Perhaps he never dreamt that he would end up performing one of the most iconic characters in the history of global cinema.
When Mahangar was being made in 1963, Satyajit Ray arranged a small part for Tapen Chatterjee to play on screen in this Madhabi Mukherjee led film. That became his debut. Nothing much but perhaps the master had something else in mind?
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Tapen Chatterjee made a full cinematic presence in 1967 in Nanigopaler Biye casting along with Chinmoy Roy, Haradhan Banerjee and Ajoy Banerjee. Nanigopaler Biye is known as a popular comedy film directed by Sudhir Mukherjee.
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Goopy Bagha Series
His greatest challenge and opportunity came in 1969 when Satyajit Ray wanted to cast him as Goopy Gayne. Satyajit Ray wanted someone really special and innocent as Goopy, a character of his grandfather Upendra Kishore Ray Chowdhury’s stories.
Tapen Chatterjee was unsure at first because Ray had rejected many popular actors for the role, even Soumitra Chatterjee.
Eventually he worked day and night for the role. He dedicated each moment to practice getting into the innocent rural character and lip sync to the amazing songs. Most of all, his co-actor was none other than the marvellous Rabi Ghosh. Goopy and Bagha both had to be masters in the art acting too.
Ray’s leadership and Tapen’s hard work paid off and the rest is history. Later Heerak Rajar Deshe came out in 1980 and Goopy Bagha Phire Elo in 1991.
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Rupasi was a 1970 film directed by Ajit Ganguly. Sandhya Roy played the role of the protagonist Rupasi along with Samit Bhanja. Tapen Chatterjee plays the role of Handa, his brother. The film had also stalwarts like Kali Banerjee, Rabi Ghosh and Jahar Roy.
Two football clubs would do anything to for a shield!
The blockbuster Dhanni Meye is loved by everyone else. Dhanni Meye had a star studded cast of Uttam Kumar, Sabitri Chatterjee, Tarun Kumar, Rabi Ghosh, Jaya Bhaduri, Nripati Chatterjee, Haridhan Mukherjee among others. Tapen Chatterjee plays the role of Sabitri’s brother and Uttam Kumar’s brother-in – law.
Tapen Chatterjee acted in Sangini which was his penultimate film. Directed by Dinen Gupta, Tapen performed in Sangini with Bhanu Bannerjee, Kali Bannerjee, Soumitra Chatterjee, Basant Choudhury, Anup Kumar, Sumitra Mukhopadhyay and Rabi Ghosh.
The 1978 released Ganadevata was his last film. The film was based on a novel by Jnanpith Award winner Tarashankar Bandopadhyay. A moving film, it was probably his next best role after the Goopy series. Tapen Chatterjee plays the role of Tara Napit along with a strong cast of Soumitra Chatterjee, Kali Banerjee, Sandhya Roy, Ajitesh Bannerjee, Samit Bhanja, Rabi Ghosh, Madhabi Mukherjee and Santosh Dutta.
Tapen Chatterjee acted in a handful of films and later produced the Hindi film, Aanchal. But we cannot ever forget him. He lives forever as the innocent, ever smiling, good-hearted village fellow who had a dream that one day he will be a great singer.
He did. That is the power of believing in our dreams.
Credits: Times of India, Wikipedia