I am glad Suchitra Sen remained a recluse. It added to the aura she already possessed, although her intent seems to have been solitude.
The solitude of the courtesan in Mamta. There she was performing at the house of her former lover, an aching coincidence.
“Rehte they kabhi jin ke dil mein hum jaan se bhi pyaaron ki tarah
Baithe hai unheen ke kuuche mein hum aaj gunaahgaron ki tarah”
(In whose heart I once lived more precious than life
I am now in his home as just another vice)
The tacky makeup shown up in Eastman colour was like a mask she wore. As she mouthed those words, it was her eyes that conveyed the pain while her mouth seemed to taunt.
The solitude of a woman who has to forgo her love and make peace with her fate in Devdas.
This was the Bimal Roy version, and there was no space for glorious sets and dance pieces, or the opulence that overshadows transparent emotions. As Paro, she had a more subdued role as compared with the nautch girl Chandramukhi’s. She made it her strength, that reined-in sense of holding on to the burden of a love that never went away.
The solitude of a politician who has to tread alone in a world dominated by men and vultures.
In Aandhi, supposedly based loosely on Indira Gandhi’s married life, she was aggressive and tender by turns. Even in her career sharp moments, she let a little vulnerability come through, and in her abandon there was a steely resolve. Every gesture was just right, and it seemed effortless.
I cannot think of anybody in that role. She defined it and refined it, and finally became it.
Do read this small paean to just one song in the film; I tried to convey the sheer completeness of the character:
"Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwaa tau nahin" is rejected by "Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi tau nahin…" There are no complaints about life without you, but life also isn’t the same without you. It is an internal storm we camouflage beneath the calm.
The solitude of a woman so contained that it seems she knew when to pause. "Eik raah akeli si rukti hai, na chalti hai..."