“Nag’s book remains an easy and informative read for Satyajit Ray fans and those new to the master’s work.”



Amitava Nag has taken up the well-worn subject of Satyjit Ray’s genius and given it an interesting slant. He has chosen to write about the actors who interpreted various characters in Ray’s films. Barring Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore, few of these actors were known to non Bengalis and the book is an attempt to pay tribute to those who interpreted Ray’s directions and to throw an insight on Ray himself.

The approach allows Nag the freedom to discuss why Ray has no mother figures in his work, something that was very similar to Tagore and this despite the fact that Ray was close to his mother who brought him up as a single parent. He also attempts to shed light on the extraordinary ordinariness of Madhabi Mukherjee who made such an impression in Charulata and other Ray films, though she lost out when compared to Suchitra Sen and the other heroines of popular Bengali cinema.

Nag takes us through Ray’s films and the different facets that the actors contributed, whether it was Victor Banerjee or Dhritiman Chatterjee. None of them, he feels ever acted better and he substantiates his viewpoint with quotes from all concerned. He also highlights how Ray was adept at directing children, never giving them instructions that the rest of the crew could hear, but whispering things into their ears so that they felt they were sharing a secret with the director.

What emerges is Ray’s politeness, consideration and the effect he had on those he brought into his films, drawing performances from them that remain unmatched in their careers.

Since many of the interviews and quotations came from Bengali sources, there are glitches in grammar that could have been dealt with. However, Nag’s book remains an easy and informative read for Satyajit Ray fans and those new to the master’s work.


Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 3rd April 2019

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Anjana Basu