May 2, 2021, marked the 100th anniversary of one of the most legendary filmmakers of all time, Satyajit Ray. Known for his outstanding contribution to arts and aesthetics, he is one of the greatest Indian filmmakers and screenwriters of his time.
Memories from the Past
I remember being confused when I entered my school library for the first time. I had no idea about the art of reading. I was least interested in doing so, which is evident since our generation is all curious about the emerging technology of smartphones and not books. Still,
I managed to pick the thinnest book possible. This was my first encounter with the work of Satyajit Ray, and I guess there was no stopping after that.
Satyajit Ray was someone who gave life to characters like Feluda and professor Shanku. If you have read any of his books, you might know the brilliance of his writing style and the amazement of a gripping read.
With this, he was also one of the most renowned filmmakers of his time, who directed films like Pather Panchali, Appu etc.; and revolutionized the concept of filmmaking in his style.
His Early Life
Born on May 2, 1921, Satyajit Ray was the descendant of Upendrakishore. He was a writer, illustrator, publisher and also a leader of the Brahmo Samaj. He studied at Ballygunge Government High School, Calcutta and completed his BA in economics at Presidency College.
After finishing his education, he started working as an art director in one of the British-run advertising agencies.
He also used to work as a commercial illustrator in publishing houses. During this time, he came across the novel of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay called ‘Pather Panchali”, which changed the course structure of his life.
With time, his interest in film direction and script writing increased so much that he, along with other film- enthusiasts such as Chidananda Dasgupta, Rp Gupta and Bansi Chandragupta, founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947 to give the art of filmmaking a new form.
His Renowned Works
Pather Panchali was one of the best works delivered by Ray. The story revolves around Apu, his elder sister Durga and a tale of poverty-stricken Bengal. The film was the first part of the Apu trilogy, which bestowed Ray with awards at Cannes, Venice and London.
After the great success of Pather Panchali on the international screen, Ray went to made more parts on Apu’s trilogy. He made Aparajito and Apur Sansar, which depicted Apu’s childhood, adolescence and adult life.
Adding to the list of his fantastic work, he made successful movies like- Charulata- a film known for its timeless quality, Teen Kanya- inspired by an anthology penned by the great Rabindranath Tagore, Nayak and Sonar kella- narrating the tale of detective Feluda.
When it comes to counting the achievements of Satyajit Ray, the list is a long one. Ray has been awarded Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1984 (India’s highest award in cinema) and Bharat Ratna in 1992 (India’s highest civilian award).
He is also decorated with international honours, the National order of the legion of honour (highest decoration in France) and an honorary mention at the 64th Academy awards.
In recognition of the auteur’s legacy, Satyajit Ray lifetime achievement award for excellence in cinema has also been instituted from this year to be given at the international film festival of India (IFFI) with a cash prize of 10 lakhs rupees.
Satyajit Ray was not only a filmmaker or a writer; he was more than that. He extraordinarily changed the course of cinema and will always be remembered for his extraordinary contributions and achievements.