Satyajit Ray and Soumitra Chatterji
Satyajit Ray had brought a new dimension in realistic films in India. Satyajit Ray had used different types of character actors in his films including Soumitra Chatterji. Soumitra had started his career in Ray's film Apur Sangsar, which was the last part of the Apu Trilogy. The film was based on the story of Bibhutibhushan Banerjee which showed Apu's journey from village to Kolkata and the related experiences. Mainly the incidents were tragic, as he lost his wife Sharmila in the film and for that reason left his son and went to work in a coal mine in Bihar. Later his love for the son had brought him back to the village in Khulna. Soumitra did justice to the character of Apu.
In Abhijan, Ray gave Soumitra, the role of a Punjabi driver who had tried to create his destiny by driving different vehicles. He got asociated with Wahida Rehman and learned to settle down as his previous life became absolutely uncertain. Ray had expermented with a number of characters who made an impression in Soumitra's mind.
Ray gaev Soumitra the role of his life in Sonar Kella, in 1974, wheer he played the role of a private detective who travelled from Kolkata to the different cities of Rajasthan, including Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, etc., and saved a little child named Mukul from two bandits who thought Mukul new the information relating to treasure lying in golden fortress. Ray used excellent storytelling which made the audience absolutely spellbound. Soumitra understood the character very well, which involved intelligence, sharpness and bravery. Soumitra also did well in Joy Baba Felunath direcetd by Ray.
In the late 80s and 90s, Ray made less number of films of films as he was sick, even during that period he gave an important role to Soumitra in the film Ganashatru. It was a film related to a doctor plyed by Soumitra who found the bacteria for causing jaundice in the test report and wanted to make the villagers of Chandipur aware that the drinking water used near a temple was not safe for drinking. As his brother playedby Dhritiman was the Chairman of the Municipal Board, he never wanted any information which affected the popular image of the temple. He waged a war of words against Soumitra and made him the enemy of the people. At the end of the film Soumitra got people's support for his noble cause.
Ray had given character roles to Soumitra in films like Shakha Prashaka, Charulata, Ghare Baire, etc., and made the best use of him. These films should be restored for the excellent treatment by Ray and also powerful performance from al the actors including Soumitra Chatterji.