Dispelling the general notion that auteur Satyajit Ray’s films didn’t do well at the box office but were lauded for their universal appeal, actress Sharmila Tagore who forayed into showbiz with Ray’s iconic Apur Sansar, said the maestro’s films ran to packed houses.

“It’s a complete misconception. Unlike popular perception, his films ran to a full house. Most of his films recovered the money and have done very well at the box office. He was a great communicator, wonderful storyteller and had wonderful humour in his films including Pather Panchali,” Sharmila said at a discussion on the 60th anniversary of the cult Pather Panchali which put India on the international roadmap.

Sharmila Tagore
Sharmila Tagore

“He liberated films from dialogues completely or otherwise he built up sequences with music. He never allowed style to override content,” she said.

Reminiscing the evergreen and humour-infused lines from Pather Panchali, Sharmila, who found visibility with Hindi films, narrated that she was clear she wanted to do Ray’s (who was fondly called Manik da) films whenever the call came.

It happened when she was shooting for Shakti Samanta’s Aradhana (1969).

“The call came for Manik da’s ‘Aranyer Din Ratre‘ came while I was shooting for Aradhana and I had to go to Darjeeling for ‘Mere sapno ki raani‘,” she recalled.

Despite the fact that Samanta had booked co-star Rajesh Khanna’s dates for the shoot, Sharmila apologized for her temporary absence from the filming and left to shoot for Ray’s masterpiece.

“Thank god it (‘Aradhana‘) became a hug hit so I was forgiven. But when that option came, I was very clear what I would choose and also because we are very selfish people.”

“Its not that we are doing it for any altruistic reason but we know somewhere that these films give us longevity whereas others may be a very big hit at that time but not be remembered later,” she added.

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