Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee (83) was awarded France’s highest civilian award, Legion d’Honneur. He was presented the medal by French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler at a function in Kolkata, West Bengal.
Chatterjee was awarded in recognition of his remarkable career and his outstanding contribution in promoting Indian cinema in France and his long-standing attraction for our country.
He was born on 19 January 1935 in Mirjapur Street, Calcutta in West Bengal. In his acting career spanning almost six decades, he has acted in more than 200 films. He had debuted in his mentor Satyajit Ray’s film Apur Sansar (1959) and went on to work with director in 14 films.
Besides acting, he has also dabbled in painting, written and directed plays, composed poems, edited Bengali magazine and is also a much-acclaimed elocutionist.
He has been awarded Padma Bhushan (2004), India’s highest award in cinema Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2012). In 1999, he became first Indian to be awarded with Commandeur de l’ Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest award for artistes.
Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (Officer of the Legion of Honour) was created in 1802 by first emperor of France Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the highest civilian award given by the French government to person for his outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality. Actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan were also awarded in 2007 and 2014. Other Indians who were also awarded are Amartya Sen, Ravi Shankar, Zubin Mehta, Lata Mangeshkar, JRD Tata and Ratan Tata among others.