Kolkata, Jan 17 (IANS): Much like her life after movies, the final journey of legendary actress Suchitra Sen too was a quiet affair with the administration taking measures honouring her wish of keeping her face away from public gaze.
The body of Sen, who died today following cardiac arrest at a city nursing home, was carried to her Ballygunge residence in a coffin inside a hearse fitted with dark glasses and covered with floral wreaths. The 'Mahanayika' remained virtually invisible to the public during the entire process.
Adequate security measures were put in place to ensure that her body was smoothly taken out of Belle Vue Clinic as hundreds of fans gathered around the medical facility hoping to get a glimpse of the screen-goddess who has been an enigma after she shunned the arclights and went into reclusion.
Even her house was cordoned off with heavy deployment of security personnel and only a chosen few -- including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and a few of her ministerial colleagues besides the actress's family members -- could pay their last respects.
Banerjee, who rushed to the nursing home soon after getting the news and accompanied the hearse to the actress's home, appealed to the masses to respect the wishes of the family to have peaceful and quiet final rites.
"Her family decided to perform her last rites peacefully and quietly. They have requested me to request all of you to remain quiet and peaceful. They seek your support and cooperation," said Banerjee.
Inconsolable yet curious fans assembled outside Sen's house hoping to get a glimpse of the face which had captivated generations for years, but they had to remain content with paying homage from outside as a security ring was thrown around to prevent any access.
The Keoratola crematorium where her body was consigned to flames was turned into a virtual fortress as a large number of people from all walks of life, including celebrities, had gathered there to pay homage.
Among all these, clad in a white shawl, Banerjee continued to manage things issuing orders to the police and others as she constantly consoled the bereaved family, including Sen's daughter Moon Moon and grand daughters Riya and Raima.
The coffin-encased body was brought into the crematorium amid booming of gun shots as the iconic actress was given a 21-gun salute on her final journey.
There was some anticipation among the fans and the public when the body was to be brought out of the coffin for putting it on the pyre.
But a strong presence of police officers, who had thrown a ring around the pyre, prevented any view as the body was mounted on the pyre and covered with wooden logs as Moon Moon performed the rituals.
Stars and technicians from the Bengali cinema world including the likes of Prosenjit Chatterjee, June Maliah and yesteryear Bollywood actor Biswajit, politicians, senior police officials and doctors who treated her -- all were present at the crematorium where the actress's body was consigned to the flames as teary-eyed fans looked on.