Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Satyajit Ray



Satyajit Ray - A Visualizer and His Films



By Indian standards Satyajit Ray (1921 – 1992), (satya = truth and jit = victory)was a tall man with a height of six feet and four inches; he stands tall in Indian film industry also. Inspired by “a thief who stole a bicycle” Satyajit Ray stole the hearts of all who took films seriously. Satyajit Ray was a one man army for the films he gave birth to, from script to selling ads.

The history of the family in which Satyajit Ray was born is enough to justify the birth of such a prodigy as its heir. His grand father Upendrakishore Ray was not only a noted artist, violinist or a music composer; he was a very successful printing press technologist.

It was he who introduced “half tone blocks” for the first time in India. The press he owned “Upendra Ray and sons” was one of the best in India. He also had a children’s publication by name “Sandesh” (message).

Satyajit Ray was unlucky in one in one aspect, his father (Sukumar Ray) who also was an eminent writer and artist passed away at the young age of thirty six when Satyajit was in his infancy. It was his maternal uncle who brought him up. Later the press was disposed off and little Satyajit and his mother shifted to the uncle’s home.

The Ray family was closely associated with the movement by name “Brahma Samaj” and its ideology has greatly influenced little Ray. Even when he was studying at school he was very much interested in cinema and western music. Satyajit Ray completed his college education from Presidency College Calcutta where he studied economics and science. He saw more time in cinema theatre is another thing.

After the completion of education Satyajit Ray joined in an advertising company (D.J.Khaimar) as a visualizer. In designing cover pages for books and designing ads he could easily create a name by himself.

It so happened that when an abridged version of Vibhuti Bhusan Bandhopadhyaya’s (a well known Bengali writer) “Pather Panchali” was intended to be published the designing the cover page visualizing the characters was entrusted on Satyajit Ray. Ray being the top designer at that time, the job just came in search of him. Satyajit Ray studied the book thoroughly to give shape to the characters.

The real turn of the events occurred when he along with his wife paid a visit to Europe they selected the sea route for the journey while in the ship he used the time writing script of his first film “Pather Panchali” (song of the street). The six months tour in Europe was fully utilized by Satyajit Ray to see as much films he could. It was Vittorio De Sicas’s film “Ladiri di Biciclette (bicycle thief) that did the trick. Satyajit Ray could understand the real potential of the film media from this 1948 film.




On return Satyajit Ray could get the right for filming from the widow of Vibhuthi Bhushan. But producers were not willing to take the risk as they were apprehensive of the radical approaches Ray had in film taking. They were not familiar to the world out side the four walls of studio, where as Ray wanted the sets to be the real world itself.

Above script writing and direction the burden of producing the film also had to be placed on his shoulder. What Satyajit Ray did was just that as he was not timid enough to run away from his dream project.

Finding money was the real test. Ray advanced what he could from insurance; his wife’s ornaments had to be sold a very sensitive issue in Indian context as ornament of a woman is considered as the last resort of a family. Somehow 4000 feet of the film was completed and he approached the then Chief Minister of Bengal with the print.

It was one of the greatest fortunes of India’s film industry that the Chief Minister (B. C. Roy) granted the required money. (The money was diverted from the road improvement program of the Government!). Whatever it be, the road to Indian cinema was improved by that money. Pather Panchali the all time classic was thus born. This film has got more than forty awards from various festivals including the prestigious Cannes, Berlin, Venice.

There after Satyajit Ray got established as a film maker and he used to produce about one film in every year. The “Apu trilogy” (Apu is a little boy belonging to a poor Bengali family and other characters are his only sister, mother and grand mother) was his most well known films. These include the first one Pather Panchali the other two were “Aparajito” (unvanquished) and the “Apur Sansar” (the world of Apu). Altogether Satyajit Ray has produced total 36 films.

Sri Satyajit Ray’s second film “Aparajito” received the “Golden Lion” award in the in the Venice Film Festival. He has received the supreme award of the Indian Government “Bharata Ratna” along with “Padmasree”, “Padma Bhooshan”, “Padma Vibhushan” and he arose to the status of a man who received all the four awards of Indian Government. The “Dada Sahib Phalke” award presented to the outstanding personalities naturally came to him.

Sri Satyajit Ray revived the publication of the “Sandesh” which was left un- attended for years. In this weekly Ray him self contributed illustrations, poetries, and stories for children etc. Ray’s detective serial intended for teenagers also gained a lot of publicity.

In 1978 The Oxford University awarded Honorary Doctorate to Sri Satyajit Ray. It was Mr. Charlie Chaplin who received this before him. Sri Satyajit Ray was the recipient of the supreme award of France “The Legion of Mary award” that was in 1988. Ray was also awarded the Hon. Oscar award for his life time contribution to films in 1992. Sri Satyajit Ray is the first and only Indian to receive this award.

Ray’s prolific life came to an end on 23rd April 1992 while he was at Kolkatha. A man who was born in Kolkatha lived his life for the revival of Indian film industry which was stagnating in silly mythologies and petty tearjerkers.

Ray raised Indian film industy from18th century nonsense to one that can be compared with the best in the world. Satyajit Ray filled the entire film with a class, of which the whole nation could be proud of. He loved Kolkatha, children, good films and every thing that was good.

Works of Satyajit Ray


Pather panjali (Song of the Little Road) (1955)

Aparajito (The Unvanquished) (1957)

Parash Pathar (The Philosopher's Stone) (1958)

Jalsaghar (The Music Room) (1958)

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) (1959)

Devi (The Goddess) (1960)

Teen Kanya (Two Daugters/Three Daughters) (1961)

Rabindranath Tagore (1961)

Kanchenjungha (1962)

Abhijan (The Expedition) (1962)

Mahanagar (The Big City) (1963)

Charulata (The Lonely Wife) (1964)

Two (1965)

Kapurush (The Coward) (1965)

Mahapurush (The Holy Man) (1966)

Nayak (The Hero) (1966)

Chiriyakhana (The Zoo) (1967)

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha) (1969)

Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest) (1970)

Pratidwandi (The Adversary) (1971)

Seemabaddha (Company Limited) (1971)

Sikkim (1971)

The Inner Eye (1972)

Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder) (1973)

Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) (1974)

Jana Aranya (The Middleman) (1976)

Bala (1976)

Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) (1977)

Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) (1978)

Hirak Rajar Deshe (Kingdom of Diamonds) (1980)

Pikoor Diary (Pikoo's Day) (1981)

Sadgati (The Deliverance) (1981)

Ghare Baire (Home and the World) (1984)

Sukumar Ray (1987)

Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People) (1989)

Shakha Proshakha (Branches of the Tree) (1990)

Agantuk (The Stranger) (1991)

1 comment:

srians said...

excellent info. to read anetin of ray is pleasure

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