‘Price tag’ stopped Satyajit from casting Amitabh Bachchan in his films

Satyajit Ray had often thought of casting Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan in his films but stepped back apparently due to the actor’s price tag, according to the late director’s wife Bijoya.

Jaya Bachchan had “told me in passing that Amitabh Bachchan would be willing to work with Manik if he ever decided to cast him in any of his Bengali films…,” Bijoya says in the recently- released book Manik and I, published by Penguin India.

“He (Satyajit) smiled a little and said ‘Let me get better first–only then can I think of making another film. I’ve thought of Amitabh often but they are such expensive actors. Our Bengal film industry doesn’t have that kind of money'”, Bijoya writes.

Manik and me
Jaya immediately said, “Don’t say that–it would be a great honour to work with you. I’m sure he won’t demand that kind of money,” according to Bijoya, whose book is based on her meticulous diary notings till the death of her husband in April, 1992.

The closest Amitabh Bachchan came to working with Ray was to lend his baritone voice in the narration of Shatranj Ke Khiladi.

Satyajit Ray’s films were characterised by a low budget. Bijoya never felt the urge to write her memoirs, but was finally persuaded to pick up the pen when she was well into her eighties.

Satyajit Ray

“Manik and I” brims over with hitherto unknown stories of her life with Mr Ray, told in candid, vivid detail.

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