Moner Manik: Did you know Siddhartha Chatterjee AKA Sonar Kella’s Topshe didn’t recognise Satyajit Ray when they first met?
Sonar Kella and Joi Baba Felunath’s Siddhartha Chatterjee, who played Topshe, recollected his unforgettable memories of Satyajit Ray, Kamu Mukherjee and more. Read to find out!
Satyajit Ray cast actor Siddhartha Chatterjee as Topshe in two of his films — Sonar Kella and Joi Baba Felunath. Siddhartha Chatterjee, who then became a very well-known face for the character of Topshe, got into an extremely interesting conversation about Ray, on the occasion of the legend’s 100th birth anniversary recently. From meeting Ray for the first time to Kamu Mukherjee’s behind-the-scenes antics to his relationship with Santosh Dutta (Jotayu), Siddhartha spoke about it all in an insightful episode of Moner Manik.
Watch the previous episode of Moner Manik here:
A funny first meeting with Ray
Talking about his first meeting with Ray, Siddhartha Chatterjee believed it was only normal for his 14-year old self to have not known what the author-filmmaker looked like. He narrated the story of how his Bengali teacher once took him to meet Satyajit Ray at his residence. Chatterjee told Ray about his favourite genre of books being detective thrillers, penned by various authors except Ray himself, whom he simply did not recognise then. Only when Ray handed him a copy of Sonar Kella did Chatterjee realise, who it was. “I have watched your film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne,” was the first thing he said to Satyajit Ray, immediately.
A 14-year old Siddhartha’s innocence bagged him Topshe’s role
Siddhartha Chatterjee’s teacher had, in fact, taken him to meet Ray to check if he suited the role of Topshe for Sonar Kella. As Chatterjee had zero interest in films, the filmmaker eased his way into offering him the role. He first introduced Topshe’s character to Siddhartha, as an intelligent young kid like him who was Feluda’s cousin who also assisted him in the cases. Eventually, he asked Siddhartha if he would play Topshe in Sonar Kella’s film adaptation. The youngster immediately said no to this, stating how his parents would kick him out of the house if they were to find out. While he obviously did essay the role later, his initial innocence and simplicity while meeting Satyajit Ray for the first time was what made the latter cast Chatterjee as Topshe in his films.
Kamu Mukherjee’s antics
Kamu Mukherjee accompanied Ray on outdoor shoots, even if he was not a part of the film. The late actor, whom Chatterjee lovingly addressed as Kamu Kaku, was an essential part of Ray’s film sets. From protecting Ray to playing mischievous pranks on everyone to just being the subject of absolute humour, Mukherjee did it all. During the filming of a shot for Sonar Kella, Kamu Mukherjee’s hand movements ended up cracking four raw eggs he had stored in his jacket’s pockets. Upon being asked why he had eggs in his pockets, he revealed that he had planned on getting them cooked at a local tea shop if he got hungry amidst shooting. Inevitably, this sent Satyajit Ray into a huge fit of laughter despite the egg stains on Mukherjee’s jacket ruining the shot.
His relationship with Santosh Dutta
Speaking of Santosh Dutta, Siddhartha revealed that chatting with him was not a possibility. Chatterjee described Dutta as a typical ‘gombhir ukil babu’ that criminal lawyers were perceived as. However, a father-son bonding is what he shared with the late actor. Although very reserved, Dutta checked up on Siddhartha’s studies between shots.