Expressing her admiration for Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, veteran actor and theatre artist Shabana Azmi on Friday said she would have loved to act in all the films Ray made.
“Every single one of them… Anything he would offer me,” Shabana said at a session on Ray’s film Shataranj Ke Khiladi (1977) at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet in Kolkata.
Azmi, who herself acted in the film based on Munshi Premchand’s short story, said she was overwhelmed to get an offer from Ray at such an early stage of her career. When she received a call from Ray, she exclaimed that she was overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that Ray was calling her.
“I was very young then. I had just entered the film industry and I must say that I wasn’t even familiar with the story except for the surface because Premchand was somebody so revered that time. So what I concentrated on was the only three days that I worked in the film,” Azmi continued.
Talking about Ray’s mastery in cinema, she said the innovative change at the end of the film was so wonderful that it evoked discussions on how much creative freedom can be given to a film-maker without destroying the essence of a book.
Reminiscent of her first interaction with the prolific film-maker on the film set, Shabana explained how Ray’s suggestions and thinking fascinated her.
“When I reached the studio on the first day, I was in jeans and T-shirt. Ray told me that he would talk to me after I have gotten in my costume. When I got in costume, I realised that it demanded a certain posture with which I sat,” added Azmi.
She also mentioned that Ray later told her that he wouldn’t have been able to communicate with her about the character if she hadn’t gotten into the costume. “I thought that was fantastic,” she stated.
Though Azmi’s screen time in the film was less, the actor said that she considers herself to be lucky to have made the cut.
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