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Why Suchitra Sen was a legend

On her third death anniversary today (17 January), a quick glimpse at some of the greatest roles by one of India's greatest actresses, Suchitra Sen.

Sonal Pandya

1. Parvati - Devdas (1955)

Suchitra Sen was immortalised onscreen with her portrayal of Parvati (Paro) with Dilip Kumar's Devdas in Bimal Roy's adaptation of the Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay novel popularised by the Bengali screen legend, PC Barua. She was Roy's second choice after Meena Kumari (by way of her filmmaker husband Kamal Amrohi) turned him down.

2. Maya - Bombai Ka Babu (1960)

Suchitra appeared opposite Dev Anand in Raj Khosla's Bombai Ka Babu (1960), the story of which was influenced by a 1909 short story by O. Henry, A Double-Dyed Deceiver. With a screenplay by Rajendra Singh Bedi, Bombai Ka Babu told a bold and unusual story of a recently released criminal, Babu (Anand) impersonates the long-lost son of a wealthy family. Unfortunately, he doesn't count on falling for his younger 'sister' Maya (Suchitra Sen). Once again, Suchitra replaced another Hindi film actress, Madhubala, who stepped down to due to her ill health. The unconventional tale found a few takers and remains an underrated feature from both Anand and director Khosla's oeuvres.

3. Sarbari - Hospital (1960)

In the Bengali film, Hospital (1960), directed by Sushil Majumdar, Suchitra played a career woman, Sarbari Roy, a doctor who faces tremendous disdain and censure from society when she becomes an unwed mother. Acting opposite Ashok Kumar, this early feminist film showcased Suchitra in one of her strongest roles.

4. Deviyana and Suparna - Mamta (1966)

In Asit Sen's Mamta (1966), Suchitra essayed the role of mother and daughter in this social drama on the power of a maternal love. Actors Ashok Kumar and Dharmendra both co-starred with Suchitra in the film which was the Hindi version of the National Award-winning Bengali film, Uttar Falguni. Suchitra was nominated for a Filmfare award for best actress but lost out to Waheeda Rehman for Guide (1966).

5. Aarti Devi - Aandhi (1974)

Gulzar's martial drama with its background in politics was briefly banned for a few years. Suuchitra's role as the resilient politician Aarti Devi became her last feature in Hindi before her retirement from films in 1978. Her co-star Sanjeev Kumar won the Filmfare Award for best actor, but newcomer Lakshmi won the best actress award for Julie instead.