Suchitra Sen, a legendary Indian actress who quit movies at the height of her fame and adopted a hermit-like existence, died yesterday after a cardiac arrest, her daughter said. She was 82.
Sen, sometimes referred to as Bollywood's Greta Garbo, was taken into hospital in Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state, more than three weeks ago for treatment of a respiratory tract infection, said Moon Moon Sen, who is also an actor.
Suchitra Sen started acting in 1952 and reigned supreme for 26 years. Sen initially won fame in Bengali films, especially co-starring with actor Uttam Kumar. The two become the icons for Bengali romantic movies through the 1960s and the 1970s. Her most memorable Bengali films included Agnipariksha, Devdas and Saat Paake Bandha. She also found fame in the Mumbai film scene. She was the first Bengali actress to be honoured at an international film festival, winning best actress for her role in Saat Paake Bandha at the 1963 Moscow film festival. The Indian government honoured her with "Padma Shri,"' a top civilian award, in 1972.
The doe-eyed beauty shunned appearing in public after her retirement from films in 1978. She acted in 57 Bengali and seven Hindi films.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that she carved a special niche in the hearts of millions of Indians through her graceful cinematic presence. "Her versatility and range of performances mark a unique contribution to Indian cinema, and to Bengali films in particular," he said.