Subrata's coaxing led to making of iconic film Sonar Kella by Satyajit Ray
Kolkata: It was Subrata Mukherjee who had persuaded Satyajit Ray to direct the iconic movie Sonar Kella and assured him that the state government would produce it.
It was the second film to be produced by the state government after Pather Panchali that was released in 1955, nearly two decades ago.
Mukherjee was an avid reader of the Puja numbers, which used to be brought out by Anandabazar and Jugantar in the 1970s.
Sonar Kella, penned by Ray, had come out in the Desh Puja number in 1971. Mukherjee thought it appropriate to make a feature film out of it for audiences of all ages.
'Feluda', the central character in Sonar Kella was a private investigator. His nephew Topse used to assist him in solving cases. Ray's first detective story was Badshahi Angti, which was written in the backdrop of Lucknow.
Sonar Kella was the first detective story of the 'Feluda' series, which was eventually filmed. Later, he directed Joy Baba Felunath.
Mukherjee became the state Information and Cultural Affairs minister in 1972 in the Cabinet of Siddhartha Shankar Ray. He went to Ray and requested him to direct Sonar Kella.
Ray, who never thought of making the film, asked: "Does Manu (Siddhartha Shankar Ray's pet name who was also Satyajit's neighbour and later a batchmate in Presidency College), know about producing the film as it involves money." Siddhartha Shankar Ray was at that time the Chief Minister of Bengal. On getting a reply in the positive, Mukherjee went to the Chief Minister and said: "Manik babu has agreed to direct Sonar Kella."
The rest is history.
Sonar Kella, featuring Soumitra Chatterjee, Santosh Dutta, Kamu Mukherjee, Sailen Mukherjee, Siddhartha Chatterjee and Kushal Chakraborty (child artist), was released on December 27, 1974.
The backdrop was Rajasthan and at the centre was Jaisalmir's yellow sandstone fort. The film was an instant hit.
Mukherjee used to visit Ray during the making of the film and had ironed out all the difficulties.
The state government, headed by Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, had produced Pather Pachali, a story by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandyopadhyay in 1955. The film had received international awards and opened a new chapter in Indian cinema.