Saoli Mitra, eminent theater personality, actress dies at 73

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Saoli Mitra, eminent theater personality and daughter of legendary actors Sombhu Mitra and Tripti Mitra, died at her south Kolkata residence on Sunday from heart disease.

Mitra, 73, a gifted actress, director and playwright, died at her south Kolkata residence at 3:40 p.m. and was cremated at Siriti Crematorium later without much fanfare, her close friend and theater personality Arpita Ghosh said.

She suffered from heart disease but refused to be hospitalized, and her condition worsened on Sunday, Ghosh said.

The famous actress had wanted to be cremated without fanfare in her last wish to her close friends, Ghosh said, showing a copy of her last wish.

Mitra, who received Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2003, Padma Shri in 2009 and Banga Bibhusan in 2012, will be remembered by her fans and critics for her solo performances as Draupadi in “Naathvati Anaathbat” (which she also wrote and directed), and as Sita in “Sitakatha” or Bitata Bitangso.

She played the role of “Bangabala” in Ritwik Ghatak’s avant-garde film “Jukti Takko Aar Gappo” (Reason, Debate and History).

After spending years in “Bahurupi”, a famous theater troupe founded by Sambhu Mitra and Tripti Mitra, where she immortalized the character of Amal in Tagore’s “Dakghar”, Saoli founded “Pancham Baidik”, which established a pioneering repertoire by introducing a widely acclaimed repertoire plays on the emancipation of women.

Theater personality Bibhas Chakraborty recalled his association with Saoli for years, since his youth in Bohurupee. “She was sick for many years, but she had no idea she would leave us so soon.” said Chakraborty.

Ghosh, the director of Posukhamar, recalled how she became Saoli’s own daughter and how she avoided publicity about her illness.

Theater personality Rudraprasad Sengupta said Saoli had been away from public view due to ailments for some time but had mesmerized audiences with her stellar performances over the years.

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