Karuna Banerjee had a long career in Bengali cinema. She was introduced in
’s classic movie Pather Panchali( 1955). Pather Panchali is the greatest Indian movie that has been ever made and was the first film that made India proud in the international front. It was also a debut directorial film of Satyajit Ray too.
Karuna Banerjee, best known for her memorable performance as Sarbajaya the mother in the first two parts of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy - Pather Panchali and Aparajito - went on to act in a few more films, including two more by Ray, one by
, and an unfinished piece by Ritwik Ghatak.
As in those days very few films were made due to budget constraints, she could get roles in a very few films. One of the country's most distinguished filmmakers, Satyajit Ray, had cast her very often in his internationally acclaimed movies that made her popular in international level too. She was also seen in Satyajit Ray’s Devi, a film which is featured in lists of greatest films ever made in India. So far, she had acted in five films of Satyajit Ray.
Besides making her career in films, she was active in theaters too. Her grand niece
, is an acclaimed filmmaker and an actor now.
She was an actress of her time, who was very much talented with strong acting skills. She came to Bengali cinema and portrayed the character of village women or middle-class woman more seriously, which she could express through eyes (more than dialogues). Her pose and personality were never in doubt related to those characters which she had portrayed in cinema. Later on, she established herself as supporting actress in a very few films in which she had acted. She was a busy actress in Bengali parallel cinema that was making waves in the international film festival. Also, she was an actress who had originated in the state of Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the Indian mainstream cinema then.