If we speak of actors who made their debut in a Satyajit Ray movie, the list is of the crème de la crème, in others words the absolute best of the cinema world. Satyajit Ray had the rare penchant for picking up unpolished diamonds and turns them into their best. That is the mark of the greatest teacher.
The actors mentioned below are well known for their classy acting and memorable roles. Their films are timeless and applauded all across the globe. But when they made their debut, they were young and inexperienced and some had no previous touch with the acting world.
The film Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) was based on the novel by the venerated Bengali writer Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. The first two films showed the childhood and teenage days of Apu’s life. In this sequel Apu is now an adult. He is living in a poorly furnished rented apartment in Kolkata looking for a job. He wants to carry his academics further and write a novel but at the same time needs a job.
His friend Pulu takes him to attend his cousin, Aparna’s wedding. With the twist of fate, Aparna’s groom turns out to be mentally ill and the wedding gets cancelled. To ward off prejudice, Apu gets married to Aparna and starts a new life. Although Apu ties the knot, he is in many ways not prepared for married life and responsibilities and tries his best to cope up. Romance blossoms between the two but fate had something else for the couple.
Apur Sansar is a coming of age story. It shows what it truly means to be a father. Soumitra Chattopadhyay under the guidance of Satyajit Ray scintillated in his role as Apu.
The Apu tri-series remains as one of the greatest movies ever made in the history of global cinema.
Related: Soumitra reciting soulful Apu Poetry
If Soumitra won hands as Apu, then Sharmila won the spectator’s heart as Aparna. Interestingly both these great actors made their debut in a Satyajit Ray movie and that too the same. This pair would be seen together in more Ray films in future like Debi and Aranyer Din Ratri.
Sharmila Tagore plays Aparna who is the young bride at the age of fifteen. Docile and homely with stunning god looks, she looks like the perfect Indian bride. In spite of being married to guy without a job and in dire conditions, she tries in every way to adjust to his conditions. She does not complain and her smile lights up Apu’s life.
It was not easy for a person with a non-acting background to work for one of the best directors of the world. You need to be open to learn and practice – a lot. Sharmila Tagore since her first film has given cinemagoers one class act after another.
The bubbly and much loved actress started her career at the age of fifteen in Mahanagar. But after her debut in a Satyajit Ray movie she started taking up acting seriously. She enrolled at the Film and Television Institute of India and excelled there.
Mahanagar was a film ahead of a time. An award winning film that is still hailed today, young and inexperienced Jaya Bhaduri had to work with acting stalwarts like Madhabi Mukherjee and Anil Chatterjee. However Ray had seen her hidden potential and used it in a way so that she could give out her a great performance.
Tapen Chatterjee was an engineer. After a few years of working around the country, he joined to work in the office of Sandesh, Ray’s magazine. Who knew he was destined to make his debut in a Satyajit Ray movie and it was going to be really magical!
Tapen Chatterjee had no acting experience as such but maybe Ray had an eye for seeing that that we cannot. Perhaps he had Tapen already in mind that he made him do a very minor role in Mahanagar. It was not much really and one would not even notice him. But it was groundwork for his role for which he was born. He came as the inimitable and happy Goopy Gyne in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne.
Goopy Gyne is one of the most characters of Indian cinema. His innocence and wide smile is matchless. Although Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne was meant to be a film for children, adults love it as much. Goopy goes through a lot for following his heart. Villagers slur him and the king punishes him for singing – or for not singing well. He is driven away, insulted. But his spirit cannot be dominated. He meets him his musical soul mate in the forest who has met the same fate. They sing and dance freely with all their heart as there is no one other human to judge them now. However someone was listening and liked it.
The transformation of Goopy and Bagha was truly a new sunrise in their life. Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury had created Goopy in the story but Tapen Chatterjee was the living Goopy Gyne for us.
If Aparna Sen had not made her debut in a Satyajit Ray movie, we would have missed a lot of good things in life. One of the greatest actors of Indian cinema undoubtedly, Aparna Sen won our hearts in her first appearance as in Teen Kanya’s Samapti.
She was only fifteen when she played Mrinmoyee. Her tomboyish nature and spirited personality is like no other. She played out Rabindranath Tagore’s imagination to the fullest as Mrinmoyee. Running around playing with kids and her pet squirrel, ‘Pagli’ is set to become the bride of one of the most eligible bachelors of the village, Amulya. She escapes on her first night by climbing a tree. Although Amulya loves her, she does not find a reason to be a wife to him. It is only when Amulya is gone that Mrinmoyee realizes she loves him too and comes to maturity.
We cannot think of Lal Mohan Babu without Santosh Dutta, isn’t it? Santosh Dutta was by profession a lawyer. One thing led to another and Santosh Dutta made his debut in a Satyajit Ray movie, Parash Pathar. This Tulsi Chakraborty led film is one of those unforgettables. Here in this movie he played a very short role as an announcer.
Santosh Dutta went on to take acting seriously. He acted in many films and made his name as a great artist. He was well appreciated for his portrayal as Gopal Bhar, the famous court jester.
Santosh Dutta’s is best remembered as Jatayu. In fact we love it so much that they have become the same person for us. In fact after Santosh Dutta passed away, Satyajit Ray stopped making any more Feluda films.
We thank Satyajit Ray for not only giving us great movies but also great actors who have made cinema the art it truly is.
More actors who made their debut in a Satyajit Ray movie
Satyajit Ray would pick up his characters in his own unique way. There were some who were already established actors in theatre. But some were amateurs and some normal people working in other professions. There are many such names but we will mention a few actors who have made their debut in a Satyajit Ray movie and made a career in the film arena.
Karuna Banerjee was a strong actress who was known for her stage plays. But she got her true credit when she played Sarbajaya Roy in Pather Panchali and Aparajito. Her first cinematic role, it was a tricky role, a role that required the balance of emotion and strength. Playing the mother of Durga and Apu in a poverty stricken family, she was motherly, weak and strong in spirit. It was difficult to play Sarabajaya, to say the least.
She did nine films in her career and acted in many plays on stage.
Feluda’s Topshe was only thirteen years old when Ray found him. He was a student of Patha Bhavan then and Sandip Ray was also a student of this school. Ray was looking for his perfect Topshe here as this school has been pick for boys in his films like Hirak Rajar Deshe. When Siddhartha Chatterjee met Ray, he was unfamiliar with Feluda and too young to understand at first what he was stepping into. He was about to make his debut in a Satyajit Ray movie. To prepare for the role, Ray gave him a signed copy of Feluda and told him to read it.
Siddhartha Chatterjee had not even acted even in school plays and while others felt that would be a drawback, Ray thought it was an advantage for playing the character.
However Sonar Kella was going to be shot in Rajasthan and Siddhartha’s mother was not inclined to let him miss his studies for acting. Ray convinced her and Topshe teamed up with Feluda for saving Mukul in Sonar Kella.
Speaking of Mukul from Sonar Kella, Kushal Chakraborty also made his debut in a Satyajit Ray movie. He played Mukul when he was only six years old. Mukul was a normal boy who had suddenly started to have glimpses of his past life in Rajasthan. Alarmed by the boy’s transformation, the parents consult Dr. Hemang Hazra, a parapysychologist. The boy is insistent on his reincarnation memories of living in Sonar Kella and to ease him Dr. Hazra takes him to Rajasthan. In the meantime, some crooks smell hidden treasure and pursue after them. The parents are alarmed and it leads them to get help from the detective Pradosh Mitra, aka Feluda. Feluda finds Mukul and the crooks just in time.
Kushal Chakraborty went on to become a civil engineer but continued acting in film and television. He has also directed.