Soumitra Chatterjee becomes first Indian Actor to be awarded the Legion of Honour (Legion d’Honneur), France’s Highest award. The award will be presented to the 82 year old Chatterjee by French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler. Legendary Film maker Satyajit ray received the coveted award exactly 30 years ago in 1987 with whom, incidentally, Chatterjee has done 14 films and considers him as his mentor.
Chatterjee is an Indian Bengali film and stage actor and poet. He is best remembered for his roles and collaborations with Oscar-winning film director Satyajit Ray. In a career spanning nearly 6 decades he has acted in more than 210 films.
“I believe I am probably the first Indian actor to be honoured with the award. To be honoured in the same league as my mentor (Ray) is unbelievable because one does not work keeping awards and prizes in mind. One works for the love of the job,” Chatterjee told IANS. “There must be something in my work that won over hearts abroad. As a Bengali, I feel proud and as one who has been inspired by French art and cinema, I feel it’s a special honour.” Said Chatterjee. Talking about the honour, Chatterjee said, “At this age, awards do not hold a great attraction. But I should say this award is slightly special as it comes from a country that is known for its cultural richness and artistic excellence.
Soumitra has earlier received the ‘Officier des Arts et Metiers‘, the highest award for arts given by the French government, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Italy for his contribution. He also received Padma Bhushan by Government of India in 2004.
West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee tweeted and called him Hallmark of Indian and Bengali Cinema and that he has made us proud.