'No conflict with Ray, just plain differences'
Do not categorise cinema as parallel, middle or commercial. To me, it is always either good or I bad cinema. Vittorio De Sica started neorealist cinema with Bicycle Thief in 1952.
It changed the face of world cinema. In the early '60s, Francois Truffaut , Jean-Lue Goddard, Louis Malle and Claude Chabrol started the New Wave in French cinema, which influenced international films in a big way.
In our country, except for the earlier films of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Adoor Gopalakr- ishan, no other films are of international standards. I personally admire some of the works of V Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani.
When will our cinema grow up, be more progressive and come out of the voodoo that cinema is only entertainment?
On his kind of cinema
I really cannot define my kind of cinema. It is for critics, film lovers and the audience to decide. I make films on socially viable subjects that touch my heart and move me. They may be political movements, social concerns or a novel of true merit. I do not want to be labelled as a political film-maker.
Personally, Bhuvan Shome is nearest to my heart. Then Calcutta 71, Padatik, Interview, Kharij and Khandahar follow.
On Satyajit Ray
Till this day the media finds sadistic pleasure in writing about my conflicts with Satyajit Ray. This really annoys me, as I never had any conflict with him. We shared a warm rapport and silent regard for each other. He had criticised my Akash Kusum as a "Crow Film." I did react but with all decency to his criticism in the midd1e 60s.
I did not like Abhijan, Aranyer Din-Ratri and Asahni Sanket. I openly said it with due reasons. We believed in constructive criticism. Both of us did not support gross commercialisation of cinema. I always admire Aparajito as his best creation.
I have worked with a many actors. Each of them was very good in his own way I received the greatest satisfaction by working with Utpal Dutt, Suhasini Mulay, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. Simi Garewal and Pankaj Kapoor are two other powerful actors I have enjoyed working with. Seeing Utpal Dutt's performance in Bhuvan Shome, Ashok Kumar asked me as to why I did not cast him. I knew he was a tremendous actor but incapable of delivering the body language of Utpal Dutt in the climax of the film. I lament not having worked with Balraj Sahni, Uttam Kumar, Dilip Kumar and Nutan.