Beginning her career with Bengali film 'Shesh Kothai' in 1952, Sen went on to receive a National Award for her performance in Bimal Roy's 1955 Hindi classic 'Devdas', playing the defiant 'Paro' to Dilip Kumar's 'Devdas'. She formed an unbeatable romantic pair with Bengali cinema legend Uttam Kumar. The duo gave a string of memorable hits such as 'Harano Sur' (1957), 'Agnipariksha' (1954),'Saptapadi' (1961), 'Grihadaha' (1967), 'Indrani' (1958), 'Sagarika' (1956), 'Bipasha' (1962), 'Kamal Lata' (1969), 'Alo Amar Alo' (1972), 'Har Mana Har' (1972) and 'Priyo Bandhabi' (1975). Sen acted in 52 Bengali and seven Hindi films. 'Champakali', with Bharat Bhushan, 'Sarhhaad' and 'Bommbai Ka Babu' with Dev Anand and 'Mamta' were some of her other notable Hindi films.
However, her most famous Hindi film after 'Devdas' was 1974's 'Aandhi' by Gulzar. She earned wide acclaim for her role opposite Sanjeev Kumar in the film which landed in controversy due to similarities between her character and Indira Gandhi. After her 1978 movie 'Pronoy Pasha' with Soumitra Chatterjee flopped, Sen quietly left the limelight and even allegedly refused the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2005 preferring not to make a public appearance. As per her wishes, her family maintained secrecy even when she was hospitalized. The reason behind Sen's withdrawal from public life remains a mystery. A follower of the Ramakrishna Mission order, Sen spent her retired life in meditation and prayer. In 1989, when Bharat Maharaj of the mission passed away, she was seen publicly walking all the way to the crematorium from Belur Math near Kolkata.
Her daughter Moon Moon, though a well-known Bengali actress, could never overcome the large shadow that her mother's beauty and acting prowess cast. Sen's grand-daughters Riya and Raima have also featured in some Bollywood flicks. In 1963, Sen became the first Indian actress to be honored at an international film festival - best actress award for 'Saat Paake Bandha' at Moscow film festival. She was cast opposite matinee idol Uttam Kumar in 30 films from 1953 to 1975. The gossip mills linked Sen to her leading co-stars, Uttam Kumar in particular.
She earned both national and international acclaim for her performances as the quintessential romantic heroine be it in the role of 'Vishnupriya' in the fifties, 'Rina Brown' in the sixties or 'Bijaya' in the seventies. The actress was born as Rama Dasgupta at Pabna (Bangladesh) in 1931 to Karunamoy and Indira Dasgupta.Suchitra married Dibanath Sen from an aristocratic family in 1947 before launching a successful acting career. There were rumors that the marriage suffered due to her successful acting career. (PTI)