‘I Wish I Could Do More Shakespeare’, Soumitra Regrets


Kolkata: Legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee has one regret in his life – he could not portray the character of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” which fascinates him the most.

“One of my regrets remains not to be able to portray Hamlet, the Shakespearean character which fascinates me the most,” said Soumitra, the Dadasaheb Phalke awardee, who is equally proficient both on-stage and screen.

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Had he been younger by 50 years, he would have opted for the role of Hamlet, the 82-year-old said at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet yesterday.

Soumitra had essayed the the protagonist’s role in theatre production “Raja Lear,” based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in 2011.

“I wish I could do more Shakespeare,” Soumitra said describing King Lear as his second most favourite character.

“Shakespeare and his works left an indelible impression on me for their universal appeal. I can utter ‘to be or not to be’ a thousand times sitting on roof top,” Soumitra said.

On contemporising Shakespearean works he said if the structure is kept intact and the scenes are related to modern times, there is no harm.

“Do I ever ask in the present times, if Mahabharata is contemporary or not? A true classic always passes the scrutiny of time,” Soumitra said.

“You need not stick to ‘swaralipi’ to produce a Shakespearean work, you retain some basics and leave the rest for the audience and critics,” Soumitra said while discussing the topic ‘Banglar Shakespeare’ (Shakespeare of Bengal).

He said that Tagore was greatly influenced by Shakespeare’s work and was a regular reader of his tragedies and comedies.

Besides acting, Soumitra is also a noted elocutionist and poet.