Vol. 4 Num 220 Wed. January 07, 2004  

Adieu to a great actress
Legendary film and television artiste, Sumita Devi passes away leaving behind mourning fans and admirers

Legendary actress of the 1960s Sumita Devi passed away yesterday at 9:40 am at the Bangladesh Medical Hospital after a long period of suffering from brain haemorrhage. Both her kidneys and liver had been malfunctioning before she was admitted to the hospital. She was in comma since her treatment had begun.

The grim news of the passing away of Sumita Devi, a renowned artiste of the country, was one of profound sadness and grief to all, more to those who had been associated with the acting arena of this part of Bengal since before the Liberation period.

Being one of the last few celebrated, senior most performers of the country, late Sumita Devi characterised in around 200 films and 150 radio and television dramas. Entitled Aasia, a film that made history following its release during 1957 in the then-East Pakistan, provided Sumita Devi the required break she needed to rise at the helm of her acting carreer. Since then Sumita had never had to look back, rather marched ahead in full stride to capture laurels, one after another, in the local arena of filmdom, television and radio.

In the early sixties, during her youthful days in films, Sumita came close to Zahir Raihan, a legendary filmmaker and intellectual of our country. Soon their similar professional enthusiasm and true devotion for the art of performance made one feel for the other in the deepest possible manner. Finally, the performing arena of the early sixties saw the rise of a great romantic couple, Sumita Devi and Zahir Raihan.

She was the first actress of the then East Pakistan to act in the film Dhupchhaya produced in West Pakistan. Prior to that, she was introduced in the film Assia in 1957. She also acted in the first Bangladeshi film Akash ar Mati directed by Fateh Lohani.

Apart from acting, Sumita also worked as a film producer and some of her famous productions included Agun Niye Khela, Mom-er Alo, Mayar Sangsar, Adarsha Chhapakhana and Natun Probhat.

In her lengthy career of acting, one that spanned 45 years, Sumita Devi had won a series of prestigious awards. The first of those was in the form of All Pakistan Critic Award in 1962. Another highly esteemed award, the Nigar Prize, was won by this fine talent in 1963.

During the War of Liberation, the spirit of struggle and love for motherland inspired Sumita Devi, like most others, to strongly mobilize against the alien invasion. Tough will-power and great self-confidence helped the late artiste to serve during the war as a valiant supporter, influential motivating force among her fellow colleagues and as a helping hand to numerous freedom fighters in various ways. Some of her very best and notable casts were in films including Ora Egaro Jon, and Amar Janma Bhumi, both having themes highlighting the War of Independence.

During the post-Independent period, the actress was honoured with Bangladesh Film Journalists' Award and with another from Television Reporters' Association of Bangladesh.

It was a great day for Sumita when, recently, she was honoured with the Agartala Muktijoddha Award 2002 as recognition of her role of struggle and bravery during 1971.

One of the final tributes to Sumita Devi, during her last days of life, came in January 2003 in the form of Janakantha Gunijan and Pratibha Sammanona 2002, an anual award given to renowned media personalities of the country for their lifetime achievement in respective fields.

With the demise of Sumita Devi, the country has lost not only a brilliant drama and cine actress but also a mother-figure who would no longer cast her caring and guiding spell upon the arena of performing art in Bangladesh.

In one of her interviews given to, Sumita Devi expressed her last wish was to portray the life of the Biranganas of 1971 on the celluloid as was scripted in Ekti Gaan Duti Surey by eminent film personality late Zahir Raihan. But her last dream remains unfulfilled.

Sumita Devi