indian cinema heritage foundation

Sumita Sanyal

  • Real Name: Manjula Sanyal
  • Born: 9 October, 1945 (Darjeeling, Bengal Presidency, British India)
  • Died: 9 July, 2017
  • Parents: Girija Golkunda Sanyal
  • Spouse: Subodh Roy

Actress Sumita Sanyal featured in approximately 50 Bengali films, as well as a few Hindi films, mainly directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Making her debut in Bengali films with Bibhuti Laha’s Khokababur Pratyabartan (1960), other Bengali language films she acted in include Sagina Mahato (1970) opposite Dilip Kumar, and Tarun Majumdar’s suspense thriller Kuheli (1971) in which she played a governess, alongside Biswajit and Sandhya Roy. She co-starred with Uttam Kumar and portrayed the role of an ambitious actress in Nayak (1966), written and directed by Satyajit Ray. Teen Bhubhaner Parey (1969), Apanjan (1968) and Deya Neya (1963) are some of her other notable Bengali films. Debuting in Hindi films, she acted in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee directorials Aashirwad (1968), Anand (1971) opposite Amitabh Bachchan, and Guddi (1971), as well as Mere Apne (1971), and The Peacock Spring (1996). 

She was born Manjula Sanyal in Darjeeling, Bengal Presidency, British India, on 9 October, 1945. Making her debut in 1960 in Bibhuti Laha’s Khokababur Pratyabartan, her name was credited as Suchorita for the film. Her name was further changed by director Kanak Mukhopadhay, who shortened it to Sumita, which was the name by which she was thereafter known. 

Making a successful debut, she went on to act in more than 40 films in Bengali language cinema. Her filmography includes Khokababur Pratyabartan (1960), Akashpradip (1963), Kalsrot (1964), Swarga Hotey Biday (1964), Dinanter Alo (1965), Pratham Prem (1965), Surer Agun (1965), Trishna (1965), Nutan Jiban (1966), Hathat Dekha (1967), Panchasar (1968), Chiradiner (1969), Nishachar (1971), Anya Mati Anya Rang (1971), Natun Surya (1974), Jiban Niye (1976), Jawab (1987), and Srimati (1993)

Debuting in Hindi films, her most well-known film was Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand (1971) opposite Amitabh Bachchan. She played the role of Renu, whom Bachchan’s character Bhaskar had previously treated for pneumonia, and who develops feelings for her. The couple’s love story is aided by Anand Sehgal (Rajesh Khanna), who helps Bhaskar express his love for Renu, and also convinces Renu's mother to bless their marriage.

Sanyal played Neena ‘Bittu’ S. Choudhary in Aashirwad, which also starred Ashok Kumar, Veena, and Sanjeev Kumar. The film is also remembered for the rap-like songs performed by Ashok Kumar, namely Rail gaadi and Nav chali

In Guddi, the 1971 drama film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and written by Gulzar, Sanyal played the sister-in-law of Guddi (Jaya Bhaduri), who played a schoolgirl who has a crush on actor Dharmendra. She also featured in Mere Apne, written and directed by Gulzar, which starred Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha and others. More recently, Sanyal acted in the TV film The Peacock Spring, set in 1959, which told the tale of a widowed official with the United Nations in Delhi, India, who brings his two daughters from England to live with him, and the resulting complications that arise.

Active in various performing fields, Sumita Sanyal also acted in television serials, on professional stage and in group theatre with the notable association Ranga Sabha. 

She was married to film editor Subodh Roy. The couple had a son.

Sumita Sanyal passed away on 9 July, 2017.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee mourned her death on Twitter, saying: "Saddened at the passing of veteran actress Sumita Sanyal. My condolences to her family, friends and fans." Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee also condoled her death, writing: "Saddened to hear about the demise of the veteran actress Sumita Sanyal. May her soul rest in peace."