There is so much joy to be found in the world of theatre, but every now and then, sorrow can seep in too. This is one of those times when sorrow can certainly be found, as the body of missing actor Paul Bhattacharjee was found yesterday.
Bhattacharjee hadn’t been seen in nearly a week. He was last sighted leaving the Royal Court Theatre in London’s Sloane Square after a rehearsal on Wednesday 10th July and was described as being in good spirits when he left. He sent a text message to his girlfriend at 9pm that same night, but failed to turn up for a rehearsal the following morning. His disappearance was labelled as ‘totally out of character’ by friends and family members, who had made several heartfelt pleas for his safe return. Unfortunately, concern for his welfare ultimately proved to be well-founded as it was confirmed yesterday that a body found at Splash Point Cliffs in Seaford, East Sussex on Friday 12th July was that of Bhattacharjee. His death is not being treated as suspicious.
Those close to him will undoubtedly be struggling to deal with his untimely passing, but his loss will also be felt within the entertainment industry. The 53 year old actor made a weighty contribution to both the stage and screen during the course of his career. When he went missing, he was in the middle of rehearsals for the black comedy Talk Show. Bhattacharjee was one of the 14-strong ensemble taking part in the Royal Court’s Weekly Rep season, in which six new plays are performed over six weeks as part of theatre’s Open Court festival. The same company of actors perform all the productions with just one week’s worth of rehearsal time for each one. He had already appeared in two previous productions and Talk Show, which is now in the middle of its run at the Royal Court Theatre, was the final one of the season. His role in the play was recast.
Last year, Bhattacharjee gave an acclaimed performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado About Nothing when he starred as Benedick opposite Meera Syal. The stage wasn’t the only place he enjoyed success however; his film and television credits speak for themselves in that respect. The talented Redbridge actor received most recognition from TV audiences for his recurring role as Masood’s brother, Inzamam Ahmed, in Eastenders, appearing in the popular BBC soap between 2008 and 2010. He also appeared in further TV shows, including Waking The Dead, Spooks and The Bill. On the big screen, the 2006 Bond film Casino Royale is perhaps his most impressive achievement there. He played a doctor in what was the twenty-first film in the highly successful series, starring Daniel Craig as Agent 007, James Bond. His other achievements in the field do include roles in Dirty Pretty Things, White Teeth and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel though.
People joined forces on Twitter to circulate the news of his disappearance, with celeb names such as Stephen Fry, Parminda Nagra and Kim Cattrall using their expansive following to appeal for information, Following the news of his death, the social networking site has been flooded with tribute messages such as the one from his former co-star in Much Ado About Nothing, Muzz Khan, who wrote: “Paul Bhattacharjee’s disappearance took us all by surprise. His death has crushed us. He was a pioneer and legend. I hope he’s found peace.” Both those in and out of the industry have taken to Twitter to express their dismay at the sad news and extend their condolences to his family.
Paul Bhattacharjee was a very talented actor who was well liked and respected by all those he worked with. People around the country prayed for him to be found safe and sound during his week-long disappearance, and many will now be carrying heavy hearts after learning of his death. Why it came to this is a private matter for the family, but all can share in the sorrow felt at the loss of such a fine man. RIP Paul Bhattacharjee.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 19th July 2013