Actors change their weight and look to become a character in a movie, but Soumitra Chatterjee had to alter his handwriting style to suit the profile of his character in Satyajit Ray's 1964 classic 'Charulata'.

Ray also explained to him the evolution of Bengali script before shooting of the award-winning film began, Chatterjee, a Dadasaheb Phalke award winner, said.

"When Manikda (as Ray was called by his friends) told me I would have to change my handwriting suiting the profile of the character of 'Amal' in the film, I was initially taken aback. He said there will be shots of me scribbling and writing on paper. Those will be close shots and hence there remained very little scope for camera tricks," the actor said at a programme held here recently.

"Under his tutelage, I used to buy reams of papers and practise. After several months, I could change my handwriting style. Perhaps I am the only actor in the world to have gone through such an experience," he said.

Chatterjee, who acted in as many as 14 Ray movies, revealed this, when asked about his fondness for sketching and calligraphy at the programme where his first book on paintings and annotations was launched.

"Manikda then taught me the evolution of Bengali script. What it had been and what it was now, how the words changed over the years, what was the role of Rabindranath Tagore and later writers in changing Bengali scripts," said Chatterjee, also a veteran stage performer.

The legendary actor, who turned 84 Saturday, said he had done more than 300 films in the over five-decade long career, but barring one or two occasions, he did not have any serious argument with any of his directors.

"I often wonder when I read about this actor having major showdown with that director in newspapers, or hear about such incidents. I wonder why should this happen," he said.

Describing director as the 'spearhead' of a film, he said actor and director are collaborators and not rivals.

Recalling that at the beginning of his career, he used to research about the possible background of a character he would portray in a film, Chatterjee said, "I still try to understand the surroundings and social and economic standing of any character I portray. In my earlier days I used to prepare the family tree of my character." 

Chatterjee, whose book of paintings 'Chhobi o Chhaya' was released on Tuesday, said, "I am not a professional painter. But I had come in close contact with many painters in my student days and used to see paintings in exhibitions." 

Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore, whose paintings had encouraged him, Chatterjee said, "I used to be inspired by his history of doodle, I liked the way he sketched figures.