Joined: 07 January 2006
Satyajit Ray (Bangla:????????ž ????) (May 2, 1921 - April 23, 1992) was an Academy Award winning Indian film director whose films are perhaps the greatest testament to Bengali and Indian cinema. He is mostly known for his Apu trilogy - the films Pather Panchali (Song of the Road), Aparajito (The Unconquered), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu). - but has a large collection of works that are widely acclaimed. A Bharat Ratna, he was also noted for his literary works in Bengali.
"Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon."
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Satyajit Ray was born into a relatively wealthy and highly influential Brahmo family in Kolkata. His father Sukumar Ray was one of the leading Bengali writers, in the vein of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, and his grandfather Upendrakishore Ray (Ray Chowdhuri) was a renaissance man with many interests ranging from writing to typography. Likewise, Ray was well-educated, attending the Presidency College, Kolkata, where he studied Economics, and the Vishwabharati (Santiniketan) established by Rabindranath Tagore. At Santiniketan, he studied visual arts under the tutelage of the renowned blind artist, Benode Behari Mukherjee, on whose life and work he later went on to make a documentary, named "The Inner Eye". Thereafter, he spent many years as a layout artist in a publishing house (Signet Press) and worked with a reputed advertising agency (D.J.Keemer). Inspired by the novel Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, he decided to adapt it into a film and shoot it on location using friends as actors, putting up the initial funding himself.
He was married to Bijoya, a distant cousin, with whom he had a son, Sandip, who is a film director of some repute in his own right.
In 1949, before he decided to make films, Ray met the great French director Jean Renoir who visited Calcutta to scout locations for his film The River (1950). Renoir encouraged Ray to make films and this was part of the motivation that led to the making of Pather Panchali.
Partway through filming he ran out of funds; the Government of West Bengal loaned him the rest, allowing him to finish the film. The money was loaned on record for 'roads improvement' (Pather Panchali translates as 'song of the road'). The film was successful both artistically and commercially, winning kudos (Best Human Document) at the 1955 Cannes film festival and heralded a new era in the Indian film industry. After a Cannes screening, Franois Truffaut is reported to have said: "I don't want to see a movie of peasants eating with their hands."
Most of Ray's work, especially his early work including the Apu Trilogy or the three films entitled Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1957) and The World of Apu (Apur Sansar) (1959), seems to have been influenced by the Italian Neorealist movement in Italian post-war cinema. In fact, the one film which moved Ray the most before he started scripting Pather Panchali was Italian Neorealist film-maker Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, which he reportedly saw 55 times. Two of the actors from the Apu Trilogy, Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore (the great-grandaughter of Rabindranath Tagore) would appear in a number of his other films.
Ray's work tends to be both realistic and subdued; his early work is compassionate and touching; his later work, while more political, is also at times cynical, but still infused with his typical humour. Ray's first film outside of the Apu trilogy was the comic Parash Pathar (The Philosopher's Stone), in 1958. It was soon followed by Jalsaghar (The Music Room), which generated critical praise in the U.S. and Europe.
As the Apu trilogy was completed, it was followed by a creative period that won Ray continued acclaim at home and internationally - several of his most popular films (Charulata, Mahanagar/ The Big City, Devi, and Teen Kanya/ Three Daughters) were made at this time. In 1962, Ray directed Kanchenjungha, which was his first original screenplay and colour film. Kanchenjungha is notable as one of the few films to be shot in real time. Beginning with Teen Kanya, Ray also took over responsibility for musical composition within his films.
Other notable works in Ray's career include Nayak (1965), Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures Of Goopy And Bagha), a children's film from 1969 featuring Ray's own songs based on a novella by his grandfather Upendrakishore Ray, and 1970's Aranyer Dinratri (Days And Nights In The Forest). During the 1970s Ray completed the Calcutta trilogy : Seemabaddha (Company Limited), Pratidwandi (The Adversary) and Jana Aranya (The Middleman), three films which were conceived separately, but whose thematic connections form a loose trilogy. Each generated further acclaim, with Jana Aranya winning additional awards.
In 1977, Ray completed Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players), an Urdu/Hindi movie about chess players of Lucknow. This film starred Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Shabana Azmi, Victor Bannerjee and Richard Attenborough. Apart from a later short film in Hindi, Sadgati, starring Om Puri and the late Smita Patil, this was his only feature film in a language other than Bengali. Both these films were based on original stories by Munshi Premchand, the giant of Hindi literature.
Ray adapted some well-known Bengali books for films, for example, the Apu trilogy and Ashani Sanket (Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay); Kapurush (Premendra Mitra); Mahanagar (Narendranath Mitra); Mahapurush and Parash Pathar (Parashuram); Chiriyakhana (Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay); Charulata, Teen Kanya and Ghare Baire (Rabindranath Tagore); Jana Aranya and Seemabaddha (Shankar); Aranyer Dinratri and Pratidwandi (Sunil Gangopadhyay) etc. He had also adapted Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People in his film Ganashatru.
In 1967, Ray wrote a script for a movie to be entitled "The Alien," with Columbia Pictures as producer for this planned US/India co-production, and Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando as the leading actors. However Ray was surprised to find that the script he had co-written had already been copyrighted and the fee appropriated. Marlon Brando dropped out of the project and though an attempt was made to bring James Coburn in his place, Ray became disillusioned and returned to Calcutta. Columbia expressed interest in reviving the project several times in the 70s and 80s but nothing came of it. When E.T. was released in 1982, many saw striking similarities in the movie to Ray's earlier script - Ray discussed the collapse of the project in a 1980 Sight & Sound feature, with further details revealed by Ray's biographer Andrew Robinson (in The Inner Eye, 1989). Ray believed that Spielberg's movie "would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies." 
Satyajit Ray was also a prolific writer in Bengali. He created two of the most famous characters in Bengali literature, namely Feluda, a sleuth, and Professor Shonku, a scientist. He also wrote quite a number of short stories which were published as volumes of 12 stories. He received France's Lgion d'honneur for his short stories, in 1987.
Most of his writings have now been translated into English, and are finding an eager second generation of readers.
Ray wrote his autobiography encompassing his childhood years, Jakhan Choto Chilam (1982) and essays on film: Our Films, Their Films (1976), along with Bishoy Chalachchitra (1976), Ekei Bole Shooting (1979). Most of his novels and stories in Bengali have been published by Ananda Publishers, Calcutta; and most of his screenplays have been published in Bengali in the literary journal Eksan edited by his close friend Nirmalya Acharya. During the mid-1990s, Ray's film essays and an anthology of short stories were also published in the West. Ironically, while certain writings are available in the West, few if any (depending on country) films are.
This lists the Personal Awards Ray achieved apart from several distinctions his films earned worldwide.
|Year||Award||Award giving body|
|1958||Padma Shri||Government of India|
|1965||Padma Bhushan||Government of India|
|1967||Ramon Magsaysay Award||Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation|
|1971||Star of Yugoslavia||Government of Yugoslavia|
|1973||Doctor of Letters||Delhi University|
|1974||D. Litt.||Royal College of Art, London|
|1976||Padma Vibhushan||Government of India|
|1978||D. Litt.||Oxford University|
|1978||Special Award||Berlin Film Festival|
|1978||Desikottam||Visva-Bharati University, India|
|1979||Special Award||Moscow Film Festival|
|1980||D. Litt.||Burdwan University, India|
|1980||D. Litt.||Jadavpur University, India|
|1981||Doctorate||Benaras Hindu University, India|
|1981||D. Litt.||North Bengal University, India|
|1982||Hommage Satyajit Ray||Cannes Film Festival|
|1982||Special Golden Lion of St. Mark||Venice Film Festival|
|1982||Vidyasagar Award||Govt. of West Bengal|
|1983||Fellowship||The British Film Institute|
|1985||D. Litt.||Calcutta University, India|
|1985||Dadasaheb Phalke Award||Government of India|
|1985||Soviet Land Nehru Award|
|1986||Fellowship||Sangeet Natak Academy, India|
|1987||Lgion d'Honneur||Government of France|
|1987||D. Litt.||Rabindra Bharati University, India|
|1992||Oscar for Lifetime Achievement||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences|
|1992||Bharat Ratna||Government of India|
Just got this article . Thought I'd share it with you all.
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Joined: 24 December 2005
ya i agree
i hate all da movies of prosenjit n jeet n all da present movies
how can ppl go n watch them
the way they act it seems they r doin jaatra
Joined: 27 October 2005
Joined: 07 January 2006
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