The Golden Age of Bengali Cinema – the black and white era – has been graced by extremely talented artists. Basanta Choudhury was one of them.
Basanta Choudhury scintillated with the classy refined looks of Bengal aristocracy. But more than that, he was an excellent actor and a theatre and radio performer who left us with incredible artistic heritage.
He was born in an affluent family in Kolkata and had no need to act. But his love for acting as an art led him to the stage.
Apart from a wonderful actor, he was also known for his two hobbies – numismatics and shawls. His collection of Kashmiri and Persian shawls was so amazing that even Satyajit Ray borrowed it for his films. Perhaps the next time you see Ray’s characters donning a first-class shawl, you would know whom it belongs to.
Basanta Choudhury has played the hero, the villain and much more than that. Here are some of his best black and white films that are too good to be forgotten –
Andhare Alo (Beam of Light) is one of the most famous love triangle films of its time. Similar to Debdas, this was based on a short story by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Basanta Choudhury is Satyendra. Due to family pressure he is compelled to marry Radharani, a girl who is only 11 years old. But naturally he seeks for maturity and understanding, which he finds in a courtesan. The cast includes Jiben Bose, Sumitra Devi and Bikash Roy.
Among his many fantastic roles, this was a classic masterpiece of his life. He won the best Best Actor Prize for his role as Raja Rammohan by B.F.J.A.
Diba Ratrir Kabya
Basanta Choudhury excelled at playing dark characters. Sometimes negative characters need to be dramamtic villains, just normal looking people with discouraging thoughts and sarcastic words. He plays such a sublime villain in Diba Ratrir Kabya as Madhabi’s husband.
Madhabi Mukherjee is Surpriya, a woman who has been married off to Basant Choudhury instead of the man she loves. Her husband is hardly attentive of her and thinks that by marrying he has obliged her. Supriya still wants to love and life, but she slowly starts to break down and lose herself.
Deep Jweley Jai
This is one of the most chilling and heart wrenching films of all time. A Suchitra-Basanta performance that is truly memorable. Suchitra Sen is the nurse at the psychiatric ward and Tapas eventually is a patient assigned to her. While Tapas comes back from his darkness, his nurturing nurse plunges into one.
Abhaya O Srikanta
Basanta Choudhaury teamed up with Mala Sinha for this unforgettable performance as Srikanta. The story starts with Abhaya and Srikanta meeting in a ship. Abhaya’s husband is gone with another woman and she is travelling with a relative to Rangoon. A deep story of hopes, emotions and grief, both the artists have been highly applauded for this film.
Devi Chowdhurani is a milestone film. Not only was this Bankim Chandra story an instant hit, but it is also one of the best of Suchitra Sen and Basanta Choudhary. Basanta Choudhary is too good as the Dakaat Sardar cum guru of the dacoits and villagers. He literally creates the dynamic and fearsome Debi Choudhurani out Prafulla, a normal village girl.
Basanta Choudhury’s role as the Robinhood Hood and spiritual guru stands among the tallest characters not only in Bengali cinema, but truly as a masterpiece in global cinema.