Goopy Bagha on Ray birthday

Artistes recount association with director

By Sudeshna Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 3.05.19, 3:01 AM
  • Updated 3.05.19, 3:01 AM
  • 2 mins read
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(From left) Barun Chanda, Alokananda Roy and Kaushik Ganguly at Priya cinema on Thursday. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

Satyajit Ray’s 98th birth anniversary was ushered in through commemorations and collectible displays on Thursday.

At Priya cinema, a screening was held of the film Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne. “We will make this an annual event,” hall owner Arijit Dutta told Metro. “In other years, we may alternately screen Pratidwandi and Aranyer Dinratri, our two other Ray films.”

Purnima Pictures and Priya Films, both Dutta family ventures, were the producers of the three films.

Before the screening, a discussion was held on Ray featuring, among others, two actors who had worked with Ray. Barun Chanda, the lead in Ray’s Seemabaddha, recalled how he bagged a freelance assignment to interview the director, all in a bid to “impress him” for a role. “I have later seen so many aspirants ring his doorbell, face him at the door and leave meekly after being told he did not have any work to offer then. The interview seemed a more honourable idea. He gave me half an hour.”

During that meeting, the tape recorder Chanda carried did not work but he bravely went ahead with the interview without even pen and paper in hand. “I wrote the interview from memory.” That must have impressed Ray and earned him his acquaintance and later a film role.

Alokananda Roy, who debuted in Kanchenjungha, described being chosen for the film as “a strange event in my life”. “He came to our house and spoke to me when I opened the door. He convinced my father to let me act and then was driven to my uncle’s house to seek his consent too as the head of our family.”

Young Aloka, then in final year in college, reached the sets two days in advance to get “acclimatised” to shooting. “When Chhabi Biswas reached the next day, I touched his feet and cheekily introduced myself as his younger daughter. He promptly addressed me as ‘chhoto meye’ and told me not to come towards his room after sunset. Later, I realised why the adda sessions there were off limits for me,” she said, as the audience laughed.

The back cover of a vinyl record of Satyajit Ray’s Hirok Rajar Deshe on display at an exhibition at Indian Museum.
The back cover of a vinyl record of Satyajit Ray’s Hirok Rajar Deshe on display at an exhibition at Indian Museum. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha

Kanchenjungha did not do well commercially. “The film was possibly before its time,” she said.

Indian Museum opened an exhibition featuring the collections of Souvik Roy and Indranath Barui. There are stamps, autographs of actors who have worked with Ray, an original poster of the film Chiriyakhana and vinyl records of Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne and Hirak Rajar Deshe. The covers of Ekkhon, the little magazine edited by Nirmalya Acharya and Soumitra Chatterjee, which Ray used to design, also catch the eye. The exhibition will be open till May 15.