On Satyajit Ray's birth-anniversary, know how he discovered Sharmila Tagore
Legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray is known for his multi-faceted talent and his evergreen creations. However, the maverick director also discovered many acting talents who became priceless possessions for Indian cinema going forward. One such talent is Sharmila Tagore, who made a name for herself in both the Bengali and Hindi film industries. On Ray's birth anniversary, let's recall how he had discovered Tagore.
Tagore was only 14 when Ray approached her father, Gitindranath Tagore, asking him if he could cast Tagore in his Bengali film, Apur Sansar. "My father readily agreed because [Ray] was already a world-renowned film-maker. Middle-class Bengalis loved his films," Tagore had once said. Once her father had agreed, Manik da, as Tagore referred to Ray, had called her over to his house.
At his house, Tagore recalled, "[Ray] took some pictures. He asked his wife, Manku di [Bijaya], to dress me up. I had to wear a sari, tie my hair in a bun, [and] put on a little bindi. And he was happy with the look."
Although the Kashmir Ki Kali star hailed from a conservative family, no one was opposed to her entering the film business, which was frowned upon at that time. And, the reason was Ray. Tagore's father was "over the moon" and considered it a "wonderful opportunity and honor to work with such a director." However, the objection came from her school.
Apparently, the principal of Tagore's school said, "She will be a very bad influence if she works in films." Because of this, Tagore had to transfer schools. This wasn't the only change in the teenager's life as she also had to leave her house where she stayed with her grandparents and joint family. Instead, she shifted to Asansol and got admitted to Loreto Convent.
After starring opposite Soumitra Chatterjee in Apur Sansar (1959), Tagore reunited with him in Ray's Devi (1960). Although she had no formal training in acting, things never felt hard while working on a Ray creation. He gave her bound, hand-written scripts with sketches drawn next to every frame. "Everything was in his mind, everything was thought out." Here's saluting the genius in Satyajit Ray!