During the shoot of a scene in a car on a highway, Soumitra (who plays the role of famous detective Felu Mittir character created by Ray), along with Santosh Dutta (who plays the role of Jatayu) and Siddhartha Chattopadhyay (in the role of Topshe, assistant to the detective), were seated in the rear of the car.

Ray was in the front seat next to the driver, operating the camera himself "with, so far as I recollect, Purnendu (the director's cameraman Purnendu Bose) by his side", says the actor in the book "The Master and I" published by Delhi-based publisher Supernova.

"With everything ready for a take, Manik da (as Ray was known to people very close to him) had just taken his eye away from the camera when a drunk truck driver collided with the rear of our car," says Soumitra adding "If it had happened a few seconds earlier, Manik da would have lost an eye".

The Dadasaheb Phalke award-winning actor recalled the incident as another instance how Ray cared for the people of his unit.

After the incident, "the entire unit came running up to find out if he (Ray) was all right. But Manik da ignored what might have happened to him and checked on each of us individually," says Soumitra.

The actor goes on to say that "throughout all the films we made together and every incident that took place, I had noticed that Manik da was always humane".

The book by Soumitra Chatterjee, who has featured in 14 films by Ray between 1959 and 1990 including "Apur Sansar", "Devi", "Charulata", "Aranayer Din Ratri", "Ashani Sanket", "Sonar Kella", "Joy Baba Felunath", "Hirok Rajar Deshey", "Ghare Baire", "Agantuk" and "Ganashatru", contains a number of interesting anecdotes and information about the 35-year close association the actor and the director had both off and on the sets and locales of shooting.

Soumitra tells us that Manik da had a "superhuman memory" and one feels much the same way while reading "The Master and I" in which the actor digs deep in time to relive with precision his many hours spent with Ray.

Among the other interesting information in the book are that "Abhijan" was initially to have been directed by Bijoy Chatterjee with the script written by Ray and that Uttam Kumar was to have played the role which was ultimately played by Soumitra.

Soumitra had wanted to play the role of Goopi in Ray's "Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen" but the director politely turned it down saying he wanted someone with a more rustic look and Tapen Chattejree suited that.


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