It is a daunting task to describe the maestro called Chhabi Biswas. No words are adequate enough. How do you explain something limitless?
We have been so pleasantly mesmerized seeing Chhabi Biswas as the patriarch of the family. However directors like Tapan Sinha and Sayajit Ray truly brought out the many facets of this genius. He was the ruler of the Golden age of Bengali cinema. He is such an ace actor for whom probably there have not been enough good roles!
When Chhabi Biswas was born, he was named Sachindranath. But his mother lovingly called her beautiful child as Chhabi.
Here are some of the cinematic avatars of this maestro.
Abdul Rehman Khan in Kabuliwala
If Tagore made Kabuliwalas humane then Chhabi Biswas gave a life to them. Before that, Kabuliwalas were considered as hard core Afghans who only came to earn money. Also the Kabuliwala demeanour made most people feel that they are bereft of any emotions.
Many films have been made on mother’s love but only a few on a father’s love. Chhabi Biswas played Kabuliwala so well that he has set the highest standards of acting performance in the history of cinema. He exuded such deep father’s love for his daughter that it brought tears to the eyes of the spectators.
Dada Thakur was the one-man army behind the revolutionary press Jungipore Sangbad. It was an extremely challenging role to portray this great man while he was still alive.
In the end, no one could have played it better than Chhabi Biswas. In fact he did the reel life Dada Thakur so well that the real Dada Thakur was all praise for him.
Kalikinkar Choudhuri in Devi
Chhabi Biswas as Kalikinkar is the father-in-law of Dayamoyee, played by Sharmila Tagore. From the strong adoring patriarch, it will send chills in your spine to see his transformation. He is altered as the superstitious devotee who starts to worship Dayamoyee.
This is one of the darkest roles ever played without the slightest touch of villainy. You could the strong delusion in his teary eyes. Although we know he is the culprit, we do not have the heart. Chhabi Biswas tears us apart as Kalikinkar.
Kanchenjunga was the film by Ray that was never given its true glory by critics -perhaps Ray being too ahead of the contemporary mindset. Although Chhabi Biswas plays the strict patriarch, this one is with a difference. He portrayed the upper middle class middle aged man who looks Indian but is stuck in the superego that the bygone British rulers were better. This character has many layers to display, in subtle ways. Perhaps we need to watch the film more than once to understand the true grandeur of his work.
Biswambhar Roy in Jalsaghar
Some call it the best role of Chhabi Biswas. This role and he are inseparable. Biswambhar Roy is a music loving Zamindar (landlord) who refuses to change with the times, as Ray wanted him to be. Jalsaghar is considered one of the greatest cinemas ever made in the history of global cinema. And Chhabi Biswas one of the greatest artists.