In 1970, the film Pratidwandi (The Adversary) released and immediately captured the attention of audiences and critics. Till then, Satyajit Ray had not made an overtly political film – with this one, he delved straight into the Bengal of the time, filled with ultra-left violence and a brutal state response.
The angst and alienation of Siddhartha, the hero of the film, who cannot get a job and does not relate to his family and the ideology of his friends, immediately connected with young viewers.
Dhritiman Chatterjee, who made his debut with the film, had no acting experience. Yet, Ray saw something in him and tailored the character to suit the actor’s personality.
In this podcast conversation with Sidharth Bhatia, Chatterjee recalls how Ray prepared meticulously fr all his films and knew what he wanted, he still ran a relaxed set and allowed the newcomer a free hand while acting.
Chatterjee says Ray was a Renaissance Man, who could do everything, from writing the script, composing music, even designing the posters. Pratidwandi is still relevant today, because young people still have many of the same issues.
Yet, Chatterjee feels there is room to re-evaluate his films after all these decades, but younger filmmakers feel inhibited to do so.