New Delhi: Renowned Bengali actress Mamata Shankar started her career with Mrinal Sen, but she got a chance to work with Satyajit Ray on films such as 'Ganashatru', 'Shakha Proshakha' and 'Agantuk'. She describes the differences in the working styles of both the legendary filmmakers.
Q: You always wanted to work with Satyajit Ray.
A: It was my dream to just show my face in one small scene, just to boast that I have worked with Satyajit Ray, but it was my great fortune that I got the chance to work in his last three films.
Bengali actress Mamata Shankar describes the differences in the filmmaking styles of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.
Q: Mrinal Sen introduced you to the audiences.
A: I had acted in many films, but it was an actor's dream to work with Ray. It was Mrinal Sen who introduced me to the audiences in 'Mrigya', but I also wanted to learn something from Satyajit Ray.
Q: Why Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray were so different as filmmakers?
A: They were entirely different. Mrinal Da was very spontaneous like he might have the script and then he might have gone to the location, and then something might inspire him to construct a scene then and there. He was normally very relaxed with the script. On the other hand Manik Kaka (Satyajit Ray) had everything planned, everything chalked out. He had a red note book 'kherol khata' in which every shot was sketched.
It was always bursting with energy on Mrinal Da's sets while Satyajit Ray's sets were calm and quiet.
Q: Such a strict discipline could have formed a creative gap.
A: No, no, he never forced anything on us. Firstly, he would read out the script and he wanted all his actors to be present during the narration session. He would suggest changes but while shooting he just watched the performances on the screen, and if he felt that certain things need to be done then only he would interfere otherwise he would leave everything to the actors.
He was disciplined but not strict in that sense. He had his own style, I never saw him getting angry. He would never criticise anyone publically. Even if he wanted to take another shot, he would say we have to take another shot due to some technical failure, and since we are doing this again can we improvise a little.
Q: Can you still remember your first shot with the master?
A: I won't forget the first day of working with Ray. It was pin drop silence on the set and after I gave my first shot, everybody started clapping. It was a ritual in his unit to clap after the first shot given by a newcomer. So, when everybody clapped hundreds of pigeons that used to live there started flying, so for me everything was like a dream in slow motion. I was in a kind of trance.
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What's the name of Satyajit Ray's last film?
None of these