West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee paid a rich tribute to Suchitra Sen on her birth anniversary on 6 April. Sen, who passed away on 17 January 2014, is hailed as the greatest star actress of Bengali cinema.

“Remembering Mahanayika Suchitra Sen on her birth anniversary,” wrote Banerjee in English and Bengali.

Born in Pabna in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in 1931, Sen touched the pinnacle of superstardom in cinema with her captivating screen presence and powerful acting.

Known as ‘Mahanayika’ (supreme actress), Sen began her career in the Bengali film industry with ‘Shesh Kothay’ in 1952 but the film never saw light of the day. Thus it was ‘Saat Number Kayedi’, released in 1953, which became her official debut movie.

Sen became a star with her second release – ‘Sharey Chuattor’. The film, co-starring Uttam Kumar, became a blockbuster at the box office and launched the era of Uttam-Suchitra combine.

With Uttam Kumar, Sen would do 29 more movies, nearly all of them blockbusters.

She also left an indelible impression on Hindi cinema with Bimal Roy’s ‘Devdas’ in 1955 opposite Dilip Kumar and Gulzar’s ‘Aandhi’ in 1975 opposite Sanjeev Kumar.

In 1963, Sen became the first Indian actress to be honoured at a foreign film festival. She won the Best Actress Award for ‘Saat Paake Bandha’ at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival.

The mother of actress Moon Moon Sen and grandmother of Riya and Raima Sen, Suchitra lived the life of a recluse in her later life and also refused to receive the Dadasaheb Phalke award just because she didn’t want to make a public appearance.

In 2012, the West Bengal government honoured her with the Banga Bibhushan award – which was received on her behalf by her daughter.

West Bengal came to a standstill on the day she died of a heart attack. Banerjee herself accompanied Sen’s family to the crematorium at Kaioratola. Sen, who was 82 at the time of her death, was also given a 21 gun salute at the orders of the CM.

Banerjee was one of the few people who were allowed to meet Sen at the hospital where she was undergoing treatment.

“It would be wrong to address her as a legend. She was a god,” the West Bengal CM had said while announcing Sen’s death.