RBN Web Desk: Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee’s comments on filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak have sparked outrage among a section of the Bengal film fraternity and the audience. Many believe that the actor crossed his limits while criticising Ghatak.
In his regular column in a leading Bengali daily, Soumitra defended himself over the incident of hitting Ritwik during a strike in the Bengali film industry probably sometime in the late sixties and early seventies. Soumitra claimed that he had no option but to land a blow on Ritwik’s face, and would have hit him again, if director Mrinal Sen didn’t intervene. Though Ritwik was a known Leftist, he became a “dalaal” (agent) of some of the producers during the strike, and had blacklisted actors like him, Bhanu Bandyopadhyay, Anup Kumar and others. Ritwik was stone drunk and had started to abuse him, when he hit in retaliation, the Apur Sansar actor said.
Soumitra also said that filmmaker Satyajit Ray was a big fan of Ritwik’s films, but often went out of his way to praise the Ajantrik director.
Senior film historian Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay told a Bengali news web portal that Soumitra’s comments on Ritwik Ghatak are extremely derogatory. Soumitra, as an actor, is “extremely overrated” and was protected by Ray in his entire career. He seems to have vented his frustration over not getting an opportunity to work in Ritwik’s films. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter who says what on the internationally acclaimed filmmaker, the portal quoted Mukhopadhyay as having said.
Professor of film studies at Jadavpur University, Anindya Sengupta, recalled that Soumitra had passed similar comments on Ritwik back in 2016. It seems Soumitra’s only purpose is to demean the filmmaker, now that his wife Surama Ghatak is no more, Sengupta said.
Surama Ghatak passed away in Kolkata recently after a prolonged illness. She was 91.
Soumitra, in his column, however said that he loved Ritwik’s films. His favourite is Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (1973), which Soumitra says, is a rare film in the history of Indian cinema.