Veteran actor Sharmila Tagore, who began her career with Satyajit Ray’s 1959 Bengali film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) at the age of a mere 13, says the late legendary filmmaker never made child artistes memorise dialogues. Sharmila was here at The Nehru Memorial Museum Library for the inauguration of Revisting Ray, a conference and exhibition on the filmmaker, on Tuesday.
“I started working at 13 and he never over-instructed us. I was given the script but (was) never made to memorise the dialogues. He would come very close to you in your ear and whisper to you what you have to do and in no time, we were in awe of him. we were never nervous with him,” said the 73-year-old actor.
“He would give very clear instructions. It was very easy to follow him. He would never treat a child like a child,” she added.
Hailing Ray as a man of ideas who was “not at all influenced by the market driven world”, Sharmila also shed light on the dedication of the filmmaker.
Ray’s first film Pather Panchali won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. This film, along with Aparajito, and Apur Sansar form “The Apu Trilogy”.
Ray did the scripting, casting, scoring, and editing, and designed his own credit titles and publicity material for the movies.
“He still remains the most credible filmmaker in India and abroad. Till date, the trilogy remains amongst the best 100 films ever made in the world. It was in the list of Time’s Top 100 films in the world in 2005. Ray’s films were created despite many materialistic constraints which he had to face throughout his career.
“The way he had to raise finance for ‘Pather Panchali’ is part of film-lore and throughout his career, he had to face shortage of money. His was the pre-multiplex era,” said Sharmila.
The Padma Bhushan recipient said the conditions in which he made his films were “unimaginable”.
“Floors were full of potholes, making a simple trolly shot a huge challenge and at that time, there was a lot of load shedding and the power cuts used to cost him dearly. He did not even have the right equipment because of which he had to improvise continuously and that of course helped,” said the actress, who worked with Ray in 1966’s “Nayak” and several other movies.
“Refusal to compromise, his steadfastness and commitment are at the heart of his legacy,” she added.