I even draw family trees to understand characters: Soumitra Chatterjee

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Kolkata, Jan 15 (IANS) The first book of legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee’s paintings and annotations was launched here, and the thespian said he drew his inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore’s doodles.

Chatterjee said as an actor he has even gone to the extent of drawing the family tree of characters he portrayed on stage and screen to understand them.

“Since childhood, I had many friends who could draw and paint. I used to observe them but I never learned it.

“Rabindranath Tagore’s doodles had quite an impact on me and I started doodling almost unconsciously,” Chatterjee said during the launch of “Chhobi o Chhaya” on Monday.

The book contains around 70 paintings and doodles by the thespian, who was a favourite of master director Satyajit Ray.

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Asked for captions, Chatterjee wrote short poems for each of the illustrations.

“I feel liberated when I draw as I am not accountable to anyone and these drawings are a pure form of a game. It was an individual exercise but then my artist friends wanted them to be known,” the winner of the highest French civilian award, Legion d’Honneur, said.

National Award-winning director Atanu Ghosh recalled the first time he approached the veteran actor with his script.

“In 2003, I approached him with the script of a telefilm ‘Oshomaapto’ (Incomplete). While explaining everything I saw him taking a paper and scribbling something. I felt he disliked my work when he replied that every time he follows any cinematography he draws images,” Ghosh said.

According to Ghosh, no other actor interprets a script so incredibly.

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A noted critic of Indian art, theatre and films Samik Bandyopadhyay said the actor actually gave a new lease of life to every role he played and has never been repetitive whether on screen or stage.

Explaining how he gets into the skin of the characters, Chatterjee said: “To understand a role I study the entire background of the character, his life, the surrounding and everything else. I actually draw the family tree to understand a character completely.”

“I am a very dissatisfied man so I keep doing different things and am still working. Though I enjoy the moment I work, for instance even a 10-minute shot brings me happiness, but am not able to carry it forward,” said the 83-year-old actor.

“Filmmaking is teamwork and it is important for the actors to know each other and build connections. Also, the actors must understand the vision of the director and there has to be a productive exchange,” advised Chatterjee, who has acted in more than 300 films.

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Chatterjee is famous for portraying ace detective Feluda based on Ray’s “Feluda” series. His other cinematic milestones include “Apur Sansar” (The World of Apu), “Aparajito” (The Unvanquished), “Charulata” (The Lonely Wife), “Aranyer Din Ratri” (Days and Nights in a Forest) and “Ashani Sanket” (Distant Thunder).

–IANS

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