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"Fight-Koni-Fight" Soumitra Chatterjee's dialogue still remains Bengali's favourite sports chant

Fight-Koni-Fight Soumitra Chatterjees dialogue still remains Bengalis favourite sports chant

Md Imtiaz

Published: 15 Nov 2020 9:22 AM GMT

As young Koni (Sriparna Banerjee) reluctantly plunged into the pool in the final lap of the 4 X 100 freestyle national swimming competition, her ardour, grey-haired coach and mentor Khidda (Soumitra Chatterjee) kept on screaming the magical words "Fight-Koni-Fight" from the stands to motivate her. Koni's record time earned Bengal a gold medal in the nationals.

This particular tear-jerking scene from the 1984 Bengali film Koni is etched in the heart of all Bengali film-lover and the rallying catch phrase 'Fight-Koni-Fight' became the mantra of keeping up the fight in any discipline of sports. This dialogue has also been an oft-repeated encouraging mantra for the veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee who passed away this morning at the age of 85. In the last 40 days, as he bravely fought COVID-19 along with cancer, his fans had prayed and hoped that it is a fight he would win. Chatterjee leaves behind his legacy and an unfillable void in the hearts of Bengali film lovers.

Soumitra has donned many hats - as a theatre doyen, an actor, a painter, and a poet and lived a life filled to the brim with creative pursuits. In his career over a span of six decades, he acted in more than three hundred films, written, directed, and acted in many plays, authored several books, and painted as a professional artist. He was a cultural icon for Bengalis and an unforgettable star in the Bengali film industry. More importantly, he was the most prominent face of Indian films aboard, thanks to his performances in Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen's films. The national audience, however, doesn't know him very well because he mostly stayed away from Bollywood, despite several offers, including Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Anand, in which he was offered the role of Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee, which catapulted Amitabh Bachchan to stardom.

His film Koni was one of the pioneers of sports films in India. Based on the novel by sports journalist and novelist Moti Nandi, 'Koni' is a National Award winning Bengali classic which tells the story of an underprivileged young swimmer Koni, who stands tall against all odds challenging poverty, politics, social stigmas, and other barriers. 'Koni' also revolves around the struggle of Khidda (Soumitra Chatterjee), the swimming coach, who scouts the talented girl in a slum and guides her to win the National Swimming Championship. The movie is still considered as a perfect example of a coach and player relationship. The myriad-faceted persona that the lead actor fleshed out was relatable all the way. As a result of his restrained performance, Koni, managed to keep overt sentimentalism in check.

Also read: Winning with Data: Athlete Profiling | By Shikha Tandon

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