|Filmmaker Satyajit Ray|
Regarded as a Master in World Cinema
|Apu in Satyajit Ray's debut film, Pather Panchali, (Song of the Little Road)1955|
from the Apy Trilogy
Ray was a lover of many art forms and he had an appreciation for writing, directing, and designing sets, but his other love was music. He eventually composed many of the scores for his own films. Ray revealed himself to be a director of moments. His films spoke to the viewer with a sensuous incandescent quality, mastering one of cinema's most uncanny tricks, the illusion that the camera is somehow able to capture the light from inside a human being.
Ray turned poverty into beauty displaying an appreciation of nature and found the simple lives of those less privileged to be just as interesting. Most mainstream Bollywood films portray subjects of wealth and glamour and an untrue reality that only the beautiful and rich can fall in love, enjoy happiness, or dress in beautiful colors. He became frustrated with Bollywood musical films and turned to a neo-realist style already common in Europe and the US. The neo-realist style of filmmaking consisted of realism, serious content, natural performances from the actors, and naturalism with a special focus on the sociopolitical issues of the time. The genre became known as art house films and were in part supported by state governments to promote an authentic art genre from an Indian film fraternity. Ray's films invoked warm humanism often transmitted through a deceptively simple yet profoundly resonant close-up of the human face: cinema's lingua franca (a working language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue).
Although Ray's films were successful in Western countries, in India, politicians objected when his films were cleared by the film censor (Censor Board of Film Certification). They complained his films portrayed India in "a very negative light"; "The world will think we have only poverty." Because of the realism portrayed in his films, cinema-goers did not want to see reality on the screen. Ray always managed to show the real India thru his films. During his lifetime this humble master of the cinema had to beg for money for his next film while in the 1960's mainstream Bollywood was awash in black money and undeclared cash fortunes found their way into the film industry.
Ray talked about the hardships he faced in making his first film Pather Panchali in his essays compiled in a book titled, Our Films Their Films, "When I look back on the making of Pather Panchali, I cannot be sure whether it has meant more pain to me than pleasure. It is difficult to describe the peculiar torments of a production held up for lack of funds. The long periods of enforced idleness produce nothing but the deepest gloom. The very sight of the scenario is sickening, let alone thoughts of embellishing it with details, or bruising up the dialogue."
|A still frame from the film Mahanagar (The Big City), 1963|
directed by Satyajit Ray
Ray assumed his position as a serious filmmaker and the results have been more than gratifying throughout his 37 films that included feature films, documentaries, and shorts. Ray faced the challenges of contemporary reality and from them drew his subject matter for his films. It payed to be uncompromising. He was aware of the consequences of departing from the beaten track, but he was undeterred because he had great faith in his films. Ray expected no quick returns he is remembered saying, "What is really important and exciting is not the immediate gain, but the ultimate vindication of the belief that I hold dearest as an artist: art wedded to truth in the end have its reward."
Beloved Satyajit Ray's masterpiece films are a trilogy titled, The Apu Trilogy, consisting of three Bengali films: Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and Apu Sansar (The World of Apu), completed from 1955 to 1959. The films are now regarded as masterpieces in world cinema and have been appreciated by such filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami, Elia Kazan, Carlos Saura, Isao Takahata, Philip Kaufman, Wes Anderson, Dany Boyle and Akira Kurosawa. The films went on to win many international and national awards.
|Master Filmmaker Satyajit Ray upon receiving|
his Honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar (1992)
Written by Leticia Alaniz © 2012
Satyajit Ray Filmography:
Pather Panchali (Song of the Road), 1955
Aparajito (The Unvanquished), 1956
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 (Three Daughters), 1961
Abhijan (The Expedition), 1962
Mahanagar (The Big City), 1963
Charulata (The Lonely Wife), 1964
Kapurush O Mahapurush (The Coward and The Holy Man), 1965
Nayak (The Hero), 1966
Chiriakhana (The Zoo), 1967
Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), 1968
Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest), 1969
Pratidwandi (The Adversary), 1970
Seemabaddha (Company Limited), 1971
Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder), 1973
Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress), 1974
Jana Aranya (The Middle Man), 1975
Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players), 1977
Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God), 1978
Hirak Rajar Dese (The Kingdom of Diamonds), 1980
Ghare Baire (The Home and the World), 1984
Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People), 1989
Shakha Proshakha (Branches of a Tree), 1990
Agantuk (The Stranger), 1991