6/23/11

ME AND SATYAJIT RAY

                                                  

Akira Kurosawa:
"Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon."

Martin Scorcese, Director, 1991
"We would like to bring to your attention, and to the attention of the distinguished board of directors of the Academy, a master filmmaker, Satyajit Ray... Though somewhat unwell, during the past few years he has completed two additional films, centered around his deeply humanitarian vision. His work is in the company of that of living contemporaries like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini."

As most people know Satyajit Ray is arguably the finest film director to emerge from our culturally rich country.There are many articles which analyze the movies of Satyajit Ray. But this article is from a personal point of view. This article is about what Satyajit Ray and what his films mean to the author.

As a child,born in the state of Bengal, Satyajit Ray’s movies are a part of your growing years-Movies like Goopi Gyne,Bagha Byne,Hirak Rajar Deshe,Sonar Kella,Joy Baba Felunath are among a staple diet of movies on which a Bengali boy/girl grows culturally. But as one grows,one comes to realize how Satyajit Ray’s movies are so much more and how even the movies he made for an young audience also have some deep lying messages.

Coming to his works for the matured audiences,Satyajit Ray’s movies are usually celebrated for their warm humanism,their sympathetic outlook, their realistic take on the contemporary Indian society but one feature of his movies which can be easily overlooked is his not-so-veiled contempt for the Indian middle class masses, their bourgeoisie values and their narrow-minded perspective of the world. Yes, poking fun at the bourgeoisie was one of the features of his movies which I admired immensely besides the warm humanism and gritty and realistic nature of his movies. It’s ironic that Francois Truffaut, another director whose trademark was the warm humanism much like Ray’s films, walked out during the screening of Pather Panchali as he thought Ray was using the poverty in India to make a name for himself.(He later realized his mistake and is said to have apologized to Mrs Bijoya Ray for this.)

Movies can change your lives.Or at least affect your life and change your outlook. I would like to think movies of many directors have affected my perspective. From Stanley Kubrick to Martin Scorsese to Frank Capra to Woody Allen, different kind of directors have a varied effect on your mentality. Similarly I belive anyone who has seen Satyajit Ray’s movies will also be deeply moved. His movies have a wide range of emotions-love,ambition,ruthlessness,class consciousness, jealousy, anguish, compassion,self-righteousness you name it and it’s there. Ray’s speciality was that he could portray such a wide range of emotions and feelings in an absolutely commonplace everyday situation. He showed how the day to day life the common man led was a treasure mine and how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Thank you Mr.Satyajit Ray for enriching the cinema with such a goldmine,and on a parochial note-thank you Mr Ray for putting India on the world map of cinema.

Ray's people have genuine emotions and ambitions. By contrast, Hollywood films with exploding cigarette lighters and gasping starlets and idiot plots are the real "foreign" films. They have nothing at all in common with us, and Satyajit Ray of India understands us better than Jerry Lewis.”- Roger Ebert(excerpts from his review of Satyajit Ray’s “Mahanagar”)


Anish Dutta comes from the quarter where Bengali pride and Film fanaticism overlap. In battles on film communities online he may be found, ferociously taking the sides of Nolan, Bale and De Niro. But his words are believed to speak for themselves.

1 comment:

  1. very well written anish... (-Leo D Cap)

    ReplyDelete