Poet, author and actor Soumitra Chatterjee is known for his long association with Satyajit Ray. From Apu in Apur Sansar and Amal in Charulata to Feluda in Sonar Kella and Sandip in Ghare Baire, their friendship lasted a lifetime. To honour Chatterjee on his 81st birth anniversary (January 19), RAID Group of Companies with Unicorn Actors Studio presented a stage adaptation of The Apu Trilogy over the weekend in Delhi. There was also a screening of a documentary by Ipshita Gongupta called A tribute to Soumitra Chatterjee. Director-actor Happy Ranajit, 32, who won the Best Actor at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards in 2010 for & Isquo: Roop Aroop, talks about the genesis of the play and how he associates with the character of Apu. Excerpts:
When did you first come across The Apu Trilogy and how do you associate with the character of Apu?
My father was a big fan of Satyajit Ray and I saw The Apu Trilogy when I was a child. I come from Kalyanpur, a village in Orissa, and could identify with the rural setting and the character of Apu. Also I connected the coming of the train in the film with the breakdown of relationships.
How did you bring the three films together in the play?
We followed a non-linear format. The play starts from Apur Sansar, and Apu (Teekum Joshi) is shown writing a book on his life. The story is presented in the form of memories, illusions and as parts of the novel he is writing.
What are the challenges of adapting a film to a stage setting?
The bigger task was to compile the three films into one play and do justice to all of them. Also the burden of handling the recreation of a Ray masterpiece was there. So we have kept the classicism and the subject same, and used the original score of the film. We have taken certain iconic visuals from the film (for example the train scene) but our approach is fresh.
Could you tell us about the documentary on Chatterjee?
In the documentary Ipshita has tried to capture the versatile persona of Soumitra Chatterjee, and him as a person, which previous documentaries have failed to do.
What are your future projects?
I am currently working on Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda for the Yuva Mahotsav this year.
The play will travel to Bangalore and Kolkata shortly