January 18, 2009

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A Biography of Satyajit Ray by Dilip Basu

This work is solely dedicated to Satyajit Ray and to his work for which he will be remembered for a long time.


Biography of Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) By Dilip Basu
Biographical Sketch


Satyajit Ray was born on May 2, 1921 in Calcutta to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray. He graduated from the Ballygunge Government School and studied Economics at Presidency College. He then attended Kala Bhavan, the Art School at Tagore's University, Santiniketan during 1940-1942. Without completing the five-year course, he returned to Calcutta in 1943, to join the British-owned advertising agency D. J. Keymer as a visualizer. Within a few years, he rose to be its art director.

In 1948, he married Bijoya Das, a former actress/singer who also happened to be his cousin. Their only offspring, Sandip, was born in 1953. In 1983, Satyajit Ray suffered a massive heart attack. He died on April 23, 1992 in Calcutta after having some 40 films and documentaries and numerous books and articles to his credit.


Politics of Vision: Satyajit Ray and His Cinema
A Bengali Bergman? A sort of reincarnated Renoir? These are Andrew Robinson's cries of high hosannas while placing Satyajit Ray, the subject of his well-known study, in the pantheon of world filmmakers. Michael Sragow, a noted film critic, is more subtle. In a longish essay entitled "An Art Wedded to Truth" in the Atlantic Monthly (Oct. 1994), he describes Ray as the most sublime movie maker to emerge since Renoir and De Sica. Then he adds a careful caveat — unlike the two European masters, Satyajit Ray made "great" and "near great" films throughout his long career producing some thirty-seven features, documentaries and short films, an impressive accomplishment by any measure or standard.

Robinson and Sragow are among a host of Western admirers who have attempted to understand Ray's art in the idiom they know and in the categories they are comfortable with. It is commonly assumed that Ray, artistic and somewhat off-beat, must have emerged from India's long and prolific motion picture tradition which is as old as any. In India, Ray was initially dismissed, especially in Bollywood, as a peddler of poverty, and as someone who made low budget features with the foreign markets, international film festivals and awards in mind.
Even close to half a century after Pather Panchali made its first splash, proper appraisal of Ray's creativity and originality, whether in India or in the West, hangs in a precarious balance. Ashis Nandy, for example, has made the astonishing statement in his well-known essays on Ray that Satyajit Ray, being Calcutta born and bred, had little or no knowledge of rural Bengal, and that Ray and his films are not Indian, Bollywood being quintessentially Indian. Darius Cooper, on the other hand, finds the Ray films as examples of the traditional nine Rasas; Suranjan Ganguly in an otherwise astute study locates Ray culturally and aesthetically in the nineteenth century's ethos of modernity.

Calcutta's well-heeled cinema-goers, especially the leftists, have found in Ray and his films an outstanding political void. In contrast, filmmakers such as Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen are lauded for their outspoken political stance and leftist voice.
In this essay, I argue that Satyajit Ray was very much a product of his times and cultural heritage as well as his own creative self. His thirty-seven film oeuvre is at once a testimony to his diverse and multi-faceted creativity, and a record, a mirror image of sorts, of his times — the second half of the twentieth century in post-independent Bengal and India. Viewed in this perspective, I argue all his films are political; the degree of their political intensity increased as the social and economic crisis deepened in India . A parallel can be found in Tagore's life. From gentle, nuanced and overt cultural critiques of contemporary social mores of Bengali life and style in such works as Gora, Nashtanir (The Broken Nest or Charulata in Ray's film rendition), and Ghare Baire (Home and the World as a Ray film), Tagore's voice became increasingly covert and shrill toward the end of his life as the world was tattered by holocausts and wars. Tagore's last word to the world can be found in his "Crisis of Civilization"; Ray left his last messages to the people of Bengal, India and the World in his last trilogy, his farewell films : Ganashatru (The Enemy of the People) Shakha Proshakha (Branches of a Tree) and Agantuk (The Stranger).

Education of a Filmmaker
Ray was born in 1921 to a distinguished family of artists, litterateurs, musicians, scientists and physicians. His grandfather Upendra Kishore was an innovator, a writer of children's story books (popular to this day), an illustrator and a musician. His father, Sukumar, trained as a printing technologist in England, was also Bengal's most beloved nonsense-rhyme writer, illustrator and cartoonist. He died young when Satyajit was two and a half years old.
Ray's mother, Suprabha, raised him as a single parent. They lived with Suprabha's brother's family and with his paternal uncles. He was much adored and "coddled" as a child and hence the nickname "Manik," or "jewel" in Bengali. Ray later recalled these fun-filled childhood memories in a little book When I Was Small. The extended joint family had uncles, aunts and cousins who crisscrossed cultures — East and West — in their everyday lives. Some played cricket, while some played piano. Some played the violin while others sang, sketched and illustrated stories and verses. One of the uncles was a photographer with his own darkroom, another was a cameraman (later a director) in India's burgeoning film industry.

As a youngster, Ray developed two very significant interests. The first was music, especially Western Classical music. He listened, hummed and whistled. He then learned to read music, began to collect albums, and started to attend concerts whenever he could. These interests and skills were to prove most useful when he chose to score music for his own films.
His second interest was cinema, or "bioscope," as it was called in the early years of motion pictures. He saw silent films as well as "talkies" and started to compile scrapbooks with clippings culled from newspapers and magazines on Hollywood stars. He wrote fan letters to Deana Durbin who replied. Manik carefully put it in his scrapbook, along with pictures of Durbin. The Ray family has preserved this early scrapbook to this day. Ray wrote to Ginger Rogers too, but did not receive a reply. Billy Wilder received a "massive missive," a twelve-page long letter from Ray, now a young man who had developed a keen interest in the craft of cinema. The occasion was Ray's fascination in the Golden Age American Cinema and its profound impact on his own craft which remains an untold story.

By this time a third dimension was added to Ray's passionate interest in cinema. This was Ray's exposure to and training in drawing at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan. He joined the art school at his mother's insistence and encouragement from Tagore, the great poet, who was a friend of his late father. While in Santiniketan Ray learned to draw from the great master-teacher Nandalal Bose, a pioneer in art education in Modern India. The other teacher who made an abiding impression on him was Binode Behari Mukherjee. Binode Bihari had trained in China and Japan. Calligraphic elements entered his otherwise modernist oeuvre. With his natural talent in drawing, Ray later developed and deployed this element in his illustrations and graphic designs.
Ray did not complete the art course in Santiniketan. He returned to Calcutta, where among other things, he could see the Hollywood films he had enjoyed as an adolescent. While in Santiniketan, Ray had an unusual exposure to film theory, however. Deprived of the chance to frequent his favorite film-shows of the Golden Age variety, he read books on cinema. He read Rotha, Annheim and Spottiswoode. He discovered that his two passions — music and film — actually have a common convergence. Upon his return to Calcutta, he would go to the theater with a note-book. He was not just watching, he was studying as well. His apprenticeship in film-making began as a pleasurable self-pedagogy. This eventually put him on the path to making Pather Panchali. In retrospect, when his family background, early education and exposures are considered, he seems to have had a perfect grounding to be a filmmaker.

Even the diversions in his early life helped pave this career path. His job at D. J. Keymer saw Ray blossom into a great graphic artist, typographer, book-jacket designer and illustrator (he would later sketch frames of his films). While at Keymore, he visited Jean Renoir and had intense discussion on cinema with him when the great French director was shooting The River outside Calcutta. Before this, he had established the Calcutta Film Society where he saw films by Capra, Ford, Huston, Mileston, Wilder and Wyler among others. He also saw films by Eisenstein (he heard Bach in them) and Pudovkins (where he heard Beethoven). During a six-month stint in London in 1950 he saw over one hundred films. Among them were The Bicycle Thief and La Regle du Jeu . Both made a deep impression on Ray and later inspired him to undertake the making of Pather Panchali.

Pather Panchali
In 1950, Satyajit Ray was asked by a major Calcutta publisher to illustrate a children's edition of Pather Panchali, Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee's semi-autobiographical novel. On his way back from London, with little to do on a two-week boat journey, Ray ended up sketching the entire book. These formed the kernel and the essential visual elements in the making of Pather Panchali, Ray's very first film and the film that brought him instant international recognition and fame. At the Cannes Film Festival, in 1956, Ray received in absentia, the Best Human Document Award for this hauntingly beautiful film, its carefully executed details of joys and sorrows in the life of a little boy named Apu in a tiny village in Bengal in the 1920s. Instant fame, however, did not bring in its wake instant fortune.
How he managed to make the film, pawning his rare music albums, his wife Bijoya's jewelry and his mother, Suprabha's networking in the Government circles in Calcutta, has now become a by-word in the annals of Indian film history. It also provides a paradigm on the "modes of production" in the kind of world cinema that stubbornly refuses to kowtow to commercial pressure. The paradigm required a perennial search for the elusive producer; an essential routine of most of Ray's movie-making career. If he had access to funds for the kind of films he wanted to make on his fiercely independent and nonnegotiable artistic terms, the world would have seen more diversity and many more period pieces in Ray's oeuvre: films based on ancient epics, the Mughals and the British Colonials. Instead, he limited himself to what was locally available and possible, refusing to stop or give in to commercial presuures. By 1992, the year he passed on, he had made forty films including shorts and documentaries. Some of these are all-time classics, great and near-great films. Unlike his illustrious contemporaries Antonioni, Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa, for example he never made a film that can qualify as "bad" from the filmmaker's standpoint.

Ray resigned from his job as a visualizer in the British advertisement firm soon after Pather Panchali was released. The die was cast: Ray was now a full-time professional filmmaker. After the completion of the Apu Trilogy (1959), regarded as a classic of World Cinema, Ray continued to work with amazingly diverse and varied material. With each film made in the 1960s, his reputation soared to new heights. Many distinguished awards and prizes came his way.
Satyajit Ray made modest amounts directing and making films. The producers reaped the profits from films that earned substantial revenues, e.g. The Apu Trilogy, and The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (1968). In the mid-sixties, for a couple of years he had no work. The solution to making ends meet for his small family surfaced this way. In 1968, a prominent editor of a widely read literary magazine in Bengali persuaded Ray to write a novella for its annual number. Ray the writer of whodunits, adventure stories, science fictions, appropriately illustrated by himself, made a dramatic appearance on the Bengali literary scene. In addition, there was no surcease since then in his literary output until the time he was taken to the hospital in 1992. His last writing, My Years With Apu, was published posthumously in 1994. He wrote some seventy novellas, stories and translations and each one of them became a best seller in Bengali. The royalties from these various writings supported the Ray family, easing somewhat his anxiety to provide for his family. In the 70s and the 80s he chose to make a few films based on these stories: Sonar Kella (1974), Joi Baba Felunath (1978), Hirak Rajar Deshe (1980), Pikoo (1980), Shakha Proshakha (1990), Uttoran (1993). Sandip Ray directed the last film after Ray had passed away.

In 1975, Satyajit Ray had this to say on the bewildering array of films he had made to date:
"Critics have often accused me of a grasshopperish tendency to jump from theme to theme, from genre to genre... rather than pursue one dominant subject in an easily recognizable style that would help them to pigeonhole me, affix me with a label. [Films with] a whodunit, a children's fantasy, a tale of adventure, problems of contemporary urban youth, the famine of '43, all made over a ten year stretch, it is inevitable that a feeling of restlessness, perhaps even of indecision, will emerge from this jumble. All I can say in self-defense, if one is needed, is that this diversity faithfully reflects my own personality and that behind every film lies a cool decision."
The eclectic Ray was not, as he points out, erratic or idiosyncratic in the choices of his themes. What he does not spell out is how the themes overlapped with and related to the changing social and political mores in post-colonial India and probably his personal life as well.

Politics of Vision
One can locate three major compositional periods in Ray's work and life. The first period (1955-1964) was remarkable for its robust optimism, celebration of the human spirit as well as a certain satisfaction and self-confidence in assuming full auteurship. Ray was not only directing and scripting, he was scoring the music and increasingly taking charge of the camera-work. During this period, he directed, arguably, his greatest films following a trajectory that can be traced back to his family background, his education in art, music and letters, and to the East-West cultural confluence that captured what one can call "Calcutta Modern." One must point out that this phase coincides with the first flush of independence in India or the idea of India that was being forged with yet to be tested forces of nationalism/internationalism, secularism, humanism and modernism of the Nehru era (1947-64).

From the mid-sixties through the seventies, all of the above came under a dark spell. There were two wars — one with China early on and one with Pakistan in 1965. Growing unemployment among the urban middle classes and an agricultural crisis created by a command economy had brought parts of the country face-to-face with famine. In addition, there was an increased disaffection and restlessness among the intelligentsia and politicians. The war in Vietnam and the Cultural Revolution in China had radicalized Calcutta's urban youths and many of its artists, writers and filmmakers. Revolutionary violence and the violence of the counter-revolutionary forces gripped the city. Calcutta, noted as a friendly and safe city, became a dangerous place to live. The Bangladesh war and the influx of millions of refugees fleeing Pakistani pogrom, filled Calcutta and its outskirts. The successful Indian Army operations, the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation were capped by India's first nuclear test in 1974. The anti-Indira Gandhi agitation led to the imposition of the "Emergency" in 1975. This gave Indians a bitter taste of living under an authoritarian government. The Government clamped harsh and draconian measures on the citizens. Yet there were hardly any signs of protest: people followed orders, streets were cleaner, the economy showed growth and the trains were running on time.

Ray, however, was troubled. The films he made during this period clearly projected a troubled vision of India. The "Calcutta Trilogy" Partidwandi, Seemabaddha, Jana Aranya was a powerful portrait of alienation, waywardness and moral collapse among the urban youth. Aranyer Din Ratri, a major film, shows a rape scene; Ashani Sanket, a grim and poignant narrative on the Bengal Famine of 1943 was made during the Bangladesh war. This film shows rape as well. Shatranj Ke Khilari, made during the Emergency shows through irony and the metaphor of a chess game how the king of Oudh, more a poet, composer and singer than a ruler submitted to the British take-over, as his people subjected themselves to the alien rule fleeing from the villages as the British-Indian Army marched in.

The two short films Pikoo and Sadgati refused to equivocate or distance themselves from issues of adultery and untouchability. Even his so called "escapist" films, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Sonar Kella, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Joi Baba Felunath, carried not-so-hidden messages against wars, crooks, goons and love of lucre and greed. In mid-life, at the height of his creative best, Ray seemed to have suffered a "crisis" — arguably a personal one, but certainly one in his world-view, the way he looked at people and things around him. Increasingly, he became a loner, isolating himself in his Bishop Lefroy Road apartment. He even seriously considered leaving Calcutta — his beloved cinematic city.

The third and last phase saw Ray's "crisis" come full circle. He became even more isolated and distant, telling his telos in enunciatory terms. Unlike the early Ray genres, his films became frankly "wordy," declaring a didactic Ray voice that sought social correctives through acts of enunciation in cinema in Ghare Baire. Based on a Tagore novel, Ray was recasting Tagore's time-tested shibboleths against narrow nationalism, mix of religion and politics, demagogues and their dishonesties. Stricken by two heart attacks, Ray was now involuntarily isolated on doctor's orders. When his condition somewhat stabilized in 1987, he begged his doctors to let him make a film or two: modest family dramas shot indoors under their watchful eyes. counting time and using the medium for the message. Ganashatru addressed the questions of the late Capitalist corruption, and manipulation of religion, people, politics and environment. It is Ray's contemporary Indian version of Ibsen's Enemy of the People. Shakha Prashakha also addresses issues of the late Capitalism as it impacts family values corroding traditional generational bonding on the inside, and the fetishization of "black" money as the individuated upwardly ambitious try to make a living on the outside. To the protagonist-enuciator, who like Ray, is a heart patient, "honesty" becomes an obsessive compulsion mediated in the mood swings of music and madness. The signifier is a son who suffers the swings, seldom talks and is dysfunctional. The third in this trilogy is Agantuk. An emotionally charged film, Ray literally plants his own voice in it. He briefly sings three times in place of the enunciator-protagonist. There is little doubt that the protagonist is Ray himself. Ray is a transnational. His global concerns and questions are articulated locally and nationally as the post-Cold War era is ushered in. Issues that are brought up implicate Ray and his visions: Who is an artist? How do his loved ones measure it? In monetary terms? Who is civilized and who is "primitive?" The world-traveller and the ethnographer reveals his telos at last. He is against narrowness of all sorts, against boundaries, borders and barriers. "Don't be a frog in the well," he tells his young grandnephew as he moves on to his next destination.

Selfhood of Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray received many labels in his lifetime — most of them admiring, adulatory, some critical. Critics and scholars have marveled at his craftsmanship, mastery of detail and storytelling techniques. He has been called the last Bengali renaissance man, the inheritor and an exemplar of the Tagore tradition, a classic chronicler of changes being wrought in a traditional society, a humanist, an internationalist and a modernist. All these can be defended and debated. But two charges against him are not defendable: that Ray was not political or not political enough; that he was a humanist and modernist. About the first, one can argue that Satyajit Ray, at a certain level in all his films negotiated the polyps of the political Unconscious . However, the way he did it, as I have tried to show, changed over time. Second, Ray was a modernist in the sense that his medium was a modern invention that he used to perfection. However, this mostly applied to the use of the medium and not to the material he grafted on it. The latter came in various shades of Indian life, particularly life in Bengal. He attempted to represent this, mediated by great artistic sensibility and with attentiveness to complexity and diversity. The East/West confluence produced a modernity in Bengal that can be traced to antecedents in prior histories of early modernities outside the Modern West. The same thing can be said about humanism which certainly has a long and illustrious tradition in India.

Ray's films illumined lives. No one made films on such diverse subjects before him the way he did; and it remains to be seen whether another director would do so in the future. Whatever Ray was, it is impossible, as he said himself, to label him or put him in a pigeonhole.

Films by Ray...

Feature films :

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
Kanchanjungha, 1962
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

Directed by Sandip Ray, Screenplay by Satyajit Ray:
Goopy Bagha Phire Elo (The Return of Goopy and Bagha), 1991
Uttaran (Broken Journey), 1993

Short Subjects and Documentaries:
Rabindranath Tagore, 1961
Two, 1964
Sikkim, 1971
The Inner Eye, 1972
Bala, 1976
Pikoo, 1980
Sadgati (Deliverance), 1981
Sukumar Ray, 1987

Critics on Ray...

Critics on Ray

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

Adib, Times of India, 1956
"There is nothing glib here. There is nothing patchy. Nothing spills over the edges. Everything is clear and in focus. The images speak and we listen with our eyes."

Robert Steel, Montage Special Issue on Satyajit Ray, 1966
"[When] I did see [Pather Panchali]... I was bowled over. Here was an Indian film that was a film or that matched my concept of a film and a great one at that. It was the first film made in India that I had ever seen which did not embarrass, annoy, or bore me."

Stanley Kauffman, A World on Film, 1958
"To one who has seen Part One, two things are now evident. The film now seems better than it did because the second was made; and the director, Mr. Ray, is in the process of creating a national film epic unlike anything — in size and soul — since the Soviet Maxim trilogy of 1938-40. Further, as a record of a people's life, in its daily travail and its largest aspects, it bears comparison with Flaherty's Nanook and Maona."

Time, 1958
"Pather Panchali is perhaps the finest piece of filmed folklore since Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North. It is a pastoral poem dappled with the play of brilliant images and strong, dark feelings, a luminous revelation of Indian life in language that all the world can understand."

Pauline Kael, I Lost It At The Movies, 1965
"Like Renoir and DeSica, Ray sees that life itself is good no matter how bad it is. It is difficult to discuss art which is an affirmation of life, without fear of becoming maudlin. But is there any other kind of art, on screen or elsewhere? 'In cinema,' Ray says, 'we must select everything for the camera according to the richness of its power to reveal.' Ray is sometimes (for us Westerners, and perhaps for Easterners also?) a little boring, but what major artist outside film and drama isn't? What he has to give us is so rich, so contemplative in approach (and this we are completely unused to in the film medium — except perhaps in documentary), that we begin to accept out lapses of attention during the tedious moments with the same kind of relaxation and confidence and affection that we feel for the boring sketches in the great novels, the epic poems."


Robin Wood,The Apu Trilogy, 1972
"Can we [the Western audience] feel any confidence that we are adequately understanding, intellectually and emotionally, works which are the product of a culture very different from our own?... What is remarkable is how seldom in Ray's films the spectator is pulled up by any specific obstacle arising from cultural differences... Ray is less interested in expressing ideas than in communicating emotional experience."

Chidananda Das Gupta, Talking About Films, 1981
"Neither these more terrible aspects of our society, nor the poetry of anguish generated by the struggle of the 'Ravindriks' to cope with them are reflected in Ray's films. In fact wherever he has taken a tentative step toward them, Ray has tended to burn his fingers. Take Abhijaan for instance; the attempt to enter the underworld of the working class results in total failure. And the reasons for the failure is that it cannot be drawn from the myths and types of the Tagore world."

Nargis Dutt (quoted in Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, 1995)
"[Nargis] mounted a scathing attack on Satyajit Ray's films for 'exporting images of India's poverty," in the Parliament as an M.P. in the 1980s."

Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, 1995
"[Ray's] films mostly seen as relating to the ideological liberalism of Nehru, and... to Ray's artistic and intellectual mentor Rabindranath Tagore."

George Lucas, Producer/Screenwriter,1991
"Satyajit Ray is an extraordinary filmmaker with a long and illustrious career who has had a profound influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world. By honoring Satyajit Ray, the Academy will help bring his work to the attention of a larger public, particularly to young filmakers, on whom his work will certainly have a positive effect."

Elia Kazan, Director, 1991
"I want to add my voice to those of Scorsese and Merchant in asking the Academy grant Satyajit Ray an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. I have admired his films for many years and for me he is the filmic voice of India, speaking for the people of all classes of the country... He is the most sensitive and eloquent artist and it can truly be said in his case that when we honor him we are honoring ourselves."

James Ivory, Director, 1991
"Satyajit Ray is among the world's greatest directors, living or dead... Isn't it curious that the newest, the most modern of the arts, has found one of its deepest, most fluent expressions in the work of an artist like Ray, who must make his seamless films — many have been masterpieces — in a chaotic and volatile corner of one of the world's oldest cultures, amidst the most stringent shortages of today's advanced movie-making material and equipment?... It would be fitting to honour this great man, who has influenced so many other film makers in all parts of the world, and to salute him with a Lifetime Award in the spring of 1992."

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."

John Schlesinger, Director/Producer/Writer, 1991
"...his extraordinary body of work has not only greatly influenced so many filmmakers, but has profoundly affected their humanitarian attitude. The seeming 'simplicity' of his films is the mark of a truly great master and I would be overjoyed if he were to be honored by the Academy."
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala "Out of his great body of work, my own particular favorite is his film Charulata. Although he was such a superb visual artist, Ray's main inspiration was literary. He always wrote his own scripts (as well as directing them and composing his own original score!) and his greatest films were all adaptations of favorite novels and stories, including Charulata, which was based on a novella by Tagore. It doesn't seem to matter through what medium — novels, plays, films, music — the most potent influences reach us. All great works stimulate a hopeful emulation that ends occasionally, as in the films of Satyajit Ray, in radiant success — ensuring the continuation of this business of influence and inspiration that makes us all try and try and try again."

Suranjan Ganguly, Satyajit Ray, In Search of the Modern 2000
"It is true that the India Ray describes betrays his own bourgeois affiliations, since it caters largely to the interests of his class... [more relevant] is the question of how representative is Ray's India?"

Darius Cooper, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray, Between Tradition and Modernity, 2000
"Beneath the variety of narrative discourses that he develops, Ray is intent in telling us another story. In film after film, he investigates India's social institutions and the power structures to which they give rise, or vice versa. He works out, in concrete terms, the conflicts and issues of his times, both in his own state of Bengal and in the larger Indian nation."

Books on Satyajit Ray...

Books on Satyajit Ray

*The following is a short bibliography. RayFASC also has a complete bibliography which is available on request:-
2.American Film Institute. Satyajit Ray: study guide. Washington, DC: AFI, c1979.
3.Bandyopadhyaya, Surabhi. Kathasilpi Satyajit, pratibha o parampara. Kalakata: De'ja Pabalisim, 1993.
4.Basu, Amitabha. Akhanda Satyajit. Kalikata: Sahitya Samstha, 1992.
5.Benegal, Shyam, 1934- Benegal on Ray: Satyajit Ray, a film. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 1988.
6.Bhattacarya, Dilipakumara. Jibana-silpi Satyajit Raya. Calcutta: Harafa Prakasani [1969?]
7.Cakrabarti, Subodha. Bisvabarenya Bharataratna Satyajit. Kalikata: Sanjita Kumara Dasa: 8.Praptisthana Dasa Sahitya Kutira, 1992.
9.Cattopadhyaya, Amitabha. Calaccitra, samaja, o Satyajit Raya. Asanasola: Philma Stadi Sentara, 1980-
10.Chowdhury, Amitabha. Satyajitera paribara o Rabindranatha. Kalikata: Nabapatra Prakasana, 1982.
11.Il Contrasto, il ritmo, l'armonia: il cinema di Satyajit Ray. [Italy]: Di Giacomo, [1985?]
12.Cooper, Darius. The Cinema of Satyajit Ray: Between Tradition and Modernity. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
13.Das, Santi (ed.) Satyajit Ray: An Intimate Master. Allied Publishers, 1988
14.Das Gupta, Chidananda. The cinema of Satyajit Ray. Sahibabad, Distt. Ghaziabad, India: Vikas, c1980.
15.Dasa, Nalini. Sata rajara dhana eka manika: Satyajit Rayera chelebela. Kalikata: Niuskripta, 1399 [1993]
16.Dasagupta, Manasi. Chabira nama Satyajit. 1. samskarana. Kalikata: Ananda, 1984.
17.Ganguly, Suranjan. Satyajit Ray: In Search of the Modern. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lenham etc. 2000
18.Ghosh, Nemai. Satyajit Ray at 70: as writer, designer, actor, director, cameraman, editor, 19.composer. Photographs by Nemai Ghosh. Bruxelles, Belgique: Eiffel Editions, [1992].
20.Gupta, Kshetra. Satyajitera sahitya. Kalakata: Pushpa, 1992.
21.Indran. Catyajit Re, cinimavum kalaiyum. 1st ed. Sivagangai: Annam, 1989.
22.Mahambare, Gangadhara. Oskara vejete Bharataratna Satyajita Re. Prathamavrtti. Pune: Utkarsha Prakasana, 1992.
23.Micciollo, Henri. Satyajit Ray. Lausanne: Editions L'Age d'homme, c1981.
24.Montage. Satyajit Ray. [Bombay, India, Anadam Film Society] 1966.
25.Mukhopadhyaya, Dilipa. Satyajit. Kalakata: Banisilpa, 1986.
26.Nyce, Ben. Satyajit Ray: a study of his films. New York: Praeger, 1988.
27.Rangoonwalla, Firoze. Satyajit Ray's art. Delhi: Clarion, 1980.
28.Raya Caudhuri, Arcita. Satyajit prasanga. Kalikata: Sankara Bhattacarya, 1989.
29.Rayamangala: Satyajit Rayake nibedita chara o kabitara samkalana. Kalakata: Asirbada Prakasana, 1990.
30.Robinson, Andrew. Satyajit Ray: the inner eye. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1989.
31.Roy, Sukumar. Sukumara sahityasamagra. [1973-]
32.Sarkar, Bidyut. The world of Satyajit Ray. New Delhi: UBSPD, 1992.
33.Sat'iadzhit Rei. Moskva: Iskusstvo, 1979.
34.Satyajit Ray: an anthology of statements on Ray and by Ray. New Delhi: Directorate of Film 35.Festivals, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1981.
36.Satyajit Ray. [New Delhi: Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity, Ministry of I. & B., Govt. of India, 1976]
37.Satyajit Raya: bhinna cokhe. Kalikata: Ajanta Pabalisarsa: praptisthana, Bharati Buka Stala, 1980.
38.Satyajit, Rtvika, Mrnala. Kalakata: Cut-Zoom-Pan, 1982.
39.Satyajit-pratibha. Kalakata: Ryadikyala Impresana, 1993.
40.Sera Sandesa, 1368-1387. 1. samskarana. Kalikata: Ananda, 1388 [1981]
41.Seton, Marie. Portrait of a director: Satyajit Ray. Bloomington, Indiana University Press [1971]
42.Seton, Marie. Portrait of a director: Satyajit Ray. London, Dobson, 1971.
43.Seton, Marie. Satyajit Ray. [Helsinki]: Suomen elokuva-arkisto, [1981]
44.Tesson, Charles. Satyajit Ray. Paris: Editions de l'Etoile/Cahiers du cinema: Diffusion Seuil, c1992.

Books by Satyajit Ray...

Books by Satyajit Ray

1.Cartier-Bresson, Henri. Henri Cartier-Bresson in India. Foreword by Satyajit Ray Ahmedabad: 2.Mapin Publishing in association with Mapin International, New York, c1987.
3.Ray, Satyajit. Aro Baro. 1. Samskarana. Kalikata: Ananda, 1981.
4.Ray, Satyajit. Aro Eka Dajana. 1976.
5.Ray, Satyajit. Badasahi Angti. [1969]
6.Ray, Satyajit. Bishaya Calaccitra. 1976.
7.Ray, Satyajit. Bravo Professor Shonku. Translated by Kathleen M. O'Connell. Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1986.
8.Ray, Satyajit. The Chess Players: and other Screenplays. Edited by Andrew Robinson. London: Faber, 1989.
9.Ray, Satyajit. Chinnamastara Abhisapa: goyenda Pheludara rahasya ayadabhencara. 1. samskarana. Kalikata: Ananda, 1981.
10.Ray, Satyajit. Ebaro baro. Kalikata: Ananda, 1984.
11.Ray, Satyajit. Ecrits sur le cinema.Traduit de l'anglais par Tony Mayer. Ramsay poche cinema; 6.Paris: J.C. Lattes, c1982.
12.Ray, Satyajit. Eka Dajana Gappo. [1377, i.e. 1970]
13.Ray, Satyajit. Ekei Bale Shooting. 1. Niuskripta samskarana. Kalikata : Niuskripta, 1386 [1979]
14.Ray, Satyajit. Ente Balyasmaranakal. Kottayam: Di. Si. Buks : Distributors, Current Books, 1992.
15.Ray, Satyajit. Gorasthane Sabadhana : goyenda Pheludara rahasya ayadabhencara. 1. samskarana. Kalikata : Ananda, 1979.
16.Ray, Satyajit. Hatyapuri. 1. samskarana. Kalikata : Ananda, 1388 [1981]
17.Ray, Satyajit. Jab Main Chota Tha. Translated from Bengali by Sandip Mukhopadhyaya. New Delhi : Rajakamala, 1984.
18.Ray, Satyajit. Jaya Baba Phelunatha. 1976.
19.Ray, Satyajit. Kailasera Kelenkari. 1381 [1974]
20.Ray, Satyajit. Kancanajangha. [1378, i.e. 1972]
21.Ray, Satyajit. Mahasankate Sanku. Calcutta: Ananda, 1977.
22.Ray, Satyajit. My Years with Apu. New Delhi; New York: Viking, 1994.
23.Ray, Satyajit. Nayaka. [1379 i.e. 1973]
24.Ray, Satyajit. Our films, Their films. 1st U.S. ed. New York : Hyperion Books, c1994.
25.Ray, Satyajit. Our films, Their films. Bombay : Orient Longman, c1976.
26.Ray, Satyajit. Pather Panchali. Calcutta : Cine Central, 1984.
27.Ray, Satyajit. Phatik Chand : a novel. Translated from the original in Bengali by Lila Ray. Delhi : Vision Books, c1984.
28.Ray, Satyajit. Phatikacanda. 1977.
29.Ray, Satyajit. Pheluda enda kom. 1384 [1977]
30.Ray, Satyajit. Prophesara Sanku. [1965?].
31.Ray, Satyajit. Prophesara Sanku. Translated from Bengali by Sukanya Jhaveri. Amadavada : Gurjara, 1981.
32.Ray, Satyajit. Prophesara Sankura Kandakarakhana. [1970]
33.Ray, Satyajit. Rayela Bengala Rahasya. 1382 [1975]
34.Ray, Satyajit. Sabasa Praphesara Sanku. 1974.
35.Ray, Satyajit. Sonara Kella. [1971]
36.Ray, Satyajit. Stories. Calcutta : Seagull Books, in association with Secker & Warburg, London, 1987.
37.Ray, Satyajit. Svayam Prophesara Sanku. 1. samskarana. Kalikata : Ananda, 1387 [1980]
38.Ray, Satyajit. The Adventures of Feluda. New Delhi, India ; New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin Books, 1988.
39.Ray, Satyajit. The Apu Trilogy. English version based on the original films in Bengali by 40.Shampa Banerjee. Calcutta : Seagull Books : Distributed exclusively in India by Orient 41.Longman ; New York, NY : Distributed exclusively in the U.S.A. and Canada by Frederick Ungar Pub. Co., 1985.
42.Ray, Satyajit. The Unicorn Expedition, and other fantastic tales of India. 1st American ed. New York : E.P. Dutton, c1987.
43.Ray, Satyajit. Tin Rakama. Calcutta : Kathamala, [1979?].

January 17, 2009

Pather Panchali

Pather Panchali (Song of the Road) 1955


Year - 1955
Producer - Govt. of West Bengal
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ravi Shankar
Sound - Bhupen Ghosh
Length - 115 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Harihar - Kanu Bannerjee
Sarbajaya - Karuna Bannerjee
Apu - Subir Bannerjee
Durga - Uma Das Gupta/Runki Bannerjee
Schoolmaster - Tulsi Chakravarty
Mrs. Nilmoni - Aparna Devi
Indir - Chunibala Dev
Rich Neighbor-Woman - RajLaksmi Devi

The story revolves around a poor Brahmin family in early years of the century in Bengal. The father, Harihara, is a priest who is unable to make ends meet to keep his family together. The mother, Sarbajaya, has the chief responsibility for raising her mischievous daughter Durga and caring for her elderly aunt Indir, who is a distant relative and whose independent spirit sometimes irritates her. With the arrival of Apu in the family, scenes of happiness and play enrich their daily life.

Life, however, is a struggle, so Harihara has to find a new job and departs, leaving Sarbajaya alone to deal with the stress of this family's survival, Durga's illness and the turbulence of the monsoon. The final disaster, Durga's death, causes the family to leave their village in search of a new life in Benares.
In spite of poverty and death the film leaves one not depressed but moved, filled with the beauty, and subtle radiance of life. The film suggests an intimate relationship between loss and growth or destruction and creation.

Ray's comment on this film: "It is true. For one year I was trying to sell the scenario, to peddle it... since nobody would buy it, I decided to start anyway, because we wanted some footage to prove that we were not incapable of making films. So I got some money against my insurance policies. We started shooting, and the fund ran out very soon. Then I sold some art books, some records and some of my wife's jewelry. Little trickles of money came, and part of the salary I was earning as art director. All we had to spend on was raw stock, hire of a camera and our conveniences, transport and so on... I had nothing more to pawn."
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Aparajito

Aparajito (The Unvanquished) 1956

Year - 1956
Producer - Epic Films
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ravi Shankar
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 113 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Harihar - Kanu Bannerjee
Sarbajaya - Karuna Bannerjee
Young Apu - Pinaki Sengupta/Smaran Ghosal
Mrs. Lahiri - Santi Gupta
Bhabataran - Ramani Sengupta
Mrs. Nilmoni - Aparna Devi
Teli - Ranibala
Nirupama - Sudipta Roy
Printer - Kalicharan Roy
Professor - Hemanta Chatterjee
Moksada - Kamala Adhaikari

This film dramatizes the death of Apu's father and mother and Apu's own growth into manhood and independence. Set in 1920, the family is living in Benares, where the father reads the scriptures to an audience of widows. They live in a small house in the city. Afflicted with old age and illness, he dies while on the ghats of Benares. Sabajaya is left alone to fend for herself and Apu. She decides to return to live in the country and becomes a cook in a zamindar's house. She wants Apu to become a priest, but he wants to go to school. She makes sacrifices so that he might pursue his studies. Apu, having won a scholarship, departs for Calcutta, leaving her alone. When he returns to the country to see her, he is bored and can't wait to leave again. Sabajaya falls ill and Apu, delayed by his exams, arrives too late. He departs again for Calcutta, sad but free.

Ray said about this film: "I was not able to achieve more than 60 percent of what the script demanded... (one of the reasons) being a peculiarly technical one. A camera had just come... and it jammed frequently during the shooting in Benares. It became impossible to do more than one take of a scene... And then we had to rush through the editing stage... because the date of release was getting near. Another problem was that Ravi Shankar should have composed half as much music than he did. There are blank moments as a result. But I find the psychological aspect — the relationship between a growing Apu and his mother — very successful."
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Parash Pathar

Parash Pathar: (The Philosopher's Stone) 1957

Year - 1958
Producer - Pramod Lahiri
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Parash Pathar by Parasuram
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ravi Shankar
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 95 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Paresh Chandra Dutta - Tulsi Chakravarty
Paresh's wife - Ranibala
Priyatosh Henry Biswas - Kali Banerjee
Kachalu - Gangapada Bose
Inspector Chatterjee - Haridhan Chatterjee
Servant - Jahar Roy
Police Officer - Bireswar Sen
Doctor Nandi - Moni Srimani
Cocktail party guests - Chhabi Biswas, Jahar Ganguli, Pahari Sanyal, Kamal Mitra, Nitish Mukherjee, Subodh Ganguli, Tulsi Lahiri, Amar Mullick, Chandrabati Devi, Renuka Roy, Bharati Devi

In this satirical film, Paresh, an unimportant clerk at a bank, sees his life transformed one day when a neighbor child shows him a stone which he claims is capable of instantly changing any piece of metal into gold. Incredulous at first, Paresh becomes convinced by a demonstration of the stone's power and manages to make off with it. Soon he is wealthy and takes pains to preserve the secret of his riches until, drunkenly loquacious, he reveals it during a party at the home of an industrial magnate. The industrialist covets the stone and demands to be let in on its magic formula. This causes a series of calamities that make Paresh regret his acquisition.

Jalsaghar

Jalsaghar (The Music Room) 1958

Year - 1958
Producer - Satyajit Ray Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Jalsaghar by Tarasankar Banerjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Vilayat Khan
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 100 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Huzur Biswambhar Roy - Chhabi Biswas
Mahamaya - Padma Devi
Khoka - Pinaki Sen Gupta
Mahim Ganguly - Gangapada Bose
Taraprasanna - Tulsi Lahari
Anantra - Kali Sarkar
Ustad Ujir Khan - Ustad Waheed Khan
Krishna Bai - Roshan Kumari

The action occurs in a palace in Nimitia, in Bengal, at the beginning of the century. On his terrace, smoking a hookah, the zamindar has his memory stirred by the sound of some music from the coming of age ceremony of his neighbor's son. He recalls his own son's initiation and the recitals in his salon to which he invited the finest musicians, the most beautiful singers, the greatest dancers. Now his wife and his son are dead and his status as an important landowner has declined. Goaded by his neighbor, an arrogant pretender who boasts of his taste in music, the zamindar opens his salon once again and ruins himself with a final recital. He savors the music. He savors his victory and toasts his ancestors. At dawn, he departs on his horse and leaves this elegant world behind.
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Apur Sansar

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) 1959

Year - 1959
Producer - Satyajit Ray Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ravi Shankar
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 106 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Apu - Soumitra Chatterjee
Aparna - Sharmila Tagore
Kajal - Alok Chakravarty
Pulu - Swapan Mukherjee
Pulu's wife - Sefalika Devi
Sasinarayan - Dhiresh Majumdar

The World of Apu has often been called the most tender love story ever produced. The film describes Apu's marriage, the loss of his beloved wife, his descent into deep depression and his eventual regeneration through the love of his son and Pulu.

The story begins in Calcutta, around 1930. Apu has to give up the pursuit of his studies and looks for work, but without success. He is writing a novel based on his life. His friend Pulu, who is from a well-to-do background, proposes a stay in the country with his family. Obliged to attend a wedding, Apu unexpectedly becomes the groom. Initially his young wife is depressed by his poverty but accepts her new life and the realities of town-life with dignity and courage. Pregnant, she departs to be with her family, but dies while bringing her child into the world. Apu, who blames the infant for its mother's death, refuses to see it and leaves the child to grow-up in his grandparent's house. At last he gives up his novel and goes to meet his son in an attempts to come to grips with his loss. Reunited, the two of them leave for Calcutta.

Ray: "I particularly wanted new faces for Apu, his wife Aparna, his five-year-old-son Kajal and his friend Pulu... When I was looking for a character to play the adolescent Apu in Aparajito among the young men who came to see me was Soumitra Chatterjee. Soumitra had the right look, but was too old for adolescent Apu. This time I sent for him and offered him the lead role... Soumitra... went on to become the most sought after actor in Bengal. It was, however, not easy to find Aparna. Sharmila had appeared in a dance recital for the Children's Little Theater... She was only thirteen years old but now looked about four years older (in a red-striped sari)... Sharmila made an extremely successful career for herself in Bombay [subsequently]."
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Devi

Devi (The Goddess) 1960

Year - 1960
Producer - Satyajit Ray Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Devi by Prabhart Kumar Mukherjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ali Akbhar Khan
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 93 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Doyamoyee - Sharmila Tagore
Kalikinkar Roy - Chhabi Biswas
Umaprasad - Soumitra Chatterjee
Taraprasad - Purnendu
Harasundari - Karuna Bannerjee
Khoka - Arpan Chowdhury
Bhudeb - Anil Chatterjee
Professor Sarkar - Kali Sarkar
Nibaran - Mohammed Israil
Kaviraj - Khagesh Chakravarty
Priest - Nagendranath Kabyabyakarantirtha
Sarala - Santa Devi

The action takes place in 1860 at Chandipur, in Bengal, in a rural setting. Kalikinkar, the master of the house and local zamindar, has a revelation during a dream: his daughter-in-law Doyamoyee has manifested herself to him as an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Installed in the family temple, she cures the sick child of an itinerant man who seeks her help. Her husband Umaprasad, who has received a western-based education at a Calcutta university, finds himself dispossessed of his wife who has become a "goddess." In a critical scene, Umaprasad attacks tradition and tries to reason with his father, although unsuccessfully. The cure seems a miracle which demonstrates the truth of the traditional beliefs, and a crowd of worshippers comes to venerate her. Doyamoyee's beloved nephew, the child Khoka, falls ill. He is placed in the care of his aunt, but she is unable to save him. His death shatters her and she is overwhelmed by madness.

In this film, as well as in Charulata (The Lonely Wife, 1964) and Ghare Baire (The Home and the World, 1984), Ray explores the cultural emergence of the idea of the "modern woman" in the upper class of colonial India, showing with striking sensitivity the pressures this new ideal placed on individual women whose self-identities were also molded by traditional expectations.
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Teen Kanya

Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) 1961

Year - 1961
Producer - Satyajit Ray Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - Three short stories: Postmaster, Monihara, and Samapti by Rabindranath Tagore
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - Postmaster 56 min.; Monihara 61 min.; Samapti 56 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast for Postmaster:
Nandalal - Anil Chatterjee
Ratan - Chandana Banerjee
Bisay - Nripati Chatterjee
Khagen - Khagen Pathak
Bilash - Gopal Roy

Newly arrived from Calcutta, Nandalal takes a position as the Postmaster of a tiny rural village in Bengal. He has for his servant Ratan, a young orphan girl. She is illiterate, but he teaches her how to read and write. When Nandalal falls ill, Ratan nurses him back to health. Nonetheless, he dreams of returning to Calcutta. He gets ready to leave, oblivious to how attached to him Ratan has become. The narrative concludes with his departure, in which he is forced to confront his misunderstanding of Ratan's feelings when she snubs him.

Cast for Monihara:
Phanibhusan Saha - Kali Banerjee
Manimalika - Kanika Majumdar
Madhusudhan - Kumar Roy
Schoolmaster and narrator - Gobinda Chakravarty

Near a sumptuous mansion, now abandoned, the village schoolteacher recounts the history of a book he holds in his hand to a man seated on the stairs, concealed under a shawl. It seems that the house was formerly inhabited by a man whose wife had a consuming passion for jewels, which led to their ruin. After having listened to the tale, the man points out some errors in it; his authority comes from the fact that he is the husband's ghost.

Cast for Samapti:
Amulya - Soumitra Chatterjee
Mrinmoyee - Aparna Das Gupta
Jogmaya - Sita Mukherjee
Nistarini - Gita Dey
Kisori - Santosh Dutta
Rakhal - Mihir Chakravarty
Haripada - Devi Neogy

Returning from Calcutta after passing his exams, Amulya spends a few days with his mother, who has arranged for him to marry the daughter of a respectable family. The son resists and, in order to forestall the marriage, suggests a different bride: Mrinmoyee, a mischievous and contrary adolescent girl whose family has lost their home. The mother finally gives in. After a difficult wedding night, Amulya, instead of facing his new circumstances, hastily goes back to Calcutta. Realizing the nature of the situation, his mother pretends to be sick in order to bring him back for a more responsible reunion.

Kanchanjungha

Kanchanjungha 1962

Year - 1962
Producer - NCA Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 102 min.
Print - Color

Cast:
Indranath Choudhuri - Chhabi Biswas
Labanya - Karuna Bannerjee
Anil - Anil Chatterjee
Monisha - Alaknanda Roy
Anima - Anubha Gupta
Ashoke - Arun Mukherjee
Jagadish - Pahari Sanyal
Shankar - Subrata Sen Sharma
Tuklu - Indrani Singh
Bannerjee - N. Viswanathan
Friends of Anil - Nilima Chatterjee, Vidya Sinha

A wealthy family of Calcutta's industrial bourgeoisie is vacationing in Darjeeling, at the foot of Mt. Kanchenjunga, the second highest peak of the Himalayas. The family members are dominated by the figure of the father, Indranath, who expects all of them to obey his will. Several long walks, embellished by long conversations, sow various seeds of crisis into the family's midst: for example, a couple breaks up when the younger daughter rejects the staid, respectable engineer her father wants her to marry. Instead, she seems attracted to Asok, a young student of modest means who has the nerve to refuse the job that the elderly Indranath offers him.
The original negative of this film is lost.

Abhijan

Abhijan (The Expedition) 1962

Year - 1962
Producer - Abhijiatrik
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Abhijan by Tarasankar Banerjee
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Durgadas Mitra, Nripen Paul, Sujit Sarkar
Length - 150 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Narsingh - Soumitra Chatterjee
Gulabi - Wahida Rehman
Neeli - Ruma Guha Thakurta
Joseph - Ganesh Mukherjee
Sukhanram - Charuprasash Ghosh
Rama - Rabi Ghosh
Naskar - Arun Roy
Rameswar - Sekhar Chatterjee
Banerjee - Ajit Banerjee
Joseph's mother - Reba Devi
Lawyer - Abani Mukherjee

Abhijan was one of the most popular films (in Bengal) Ray has produced: a "conscious" effort to communicate with a wider audience. The project was originally one that his friends had conceived. Ray stepped in when his friends panicked at the prospect of directing. It was Ray's mastery that turned this "conventional" plot from a stark to a subtly nuanced story. The theme of the film is the attempt to "buy" over an honest but impoverished young man by a financially sucessful middle-aged businessman.
The action takes place in Bihar (northwest of Bengal), around 1930. Narsingh, a proud and hot tempered rajput (originally from Rajastan), is a taxi driver with a passion for his vehicle. His license is taken away as he races a government official, but Sukhanram, a shady merchant, offers him a handsome fee to transport some merchandise. Narsingh, thus, finds himself drawn against his better judgement into trafficking in opium. The two main female characters Neeli and Gulabi form a contrast. Narasingh has a soft spot for Neeli who is a strong, reserved Catholic schoolmistress, and has no interest in him. The other female character is beautiful Gulabi who has been forced into prostitution by circumstances. Narasingh falls in love with Gulabi for her basic values.
In the end he redeems both himself and Gulabi and proves that every rule has an exception.

Mahanagar

Mahanagar (The Big City) 1963

Year - 1963
Producer - R. D. Bansal & Co.
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Abataranika by Narendranath Mitra
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Debesh Ghosh, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Length - 131 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Subrata Mazumdar - Anil Chatterjee
Arati Mazumdar - Madhabi Mukherjee
Bani - Jaya Badhuri
Pintu - Prasenjit Sarkar
Priyagopal - Haren Chatterjee
Sarojini - Sefalika Devi
Himangsu Mukherjee - Haradhan Banerjee
Edith Simmons - Vicky Redwood

Subrata Mazumdar, an unassuming employee of a bank in Calcutta, has problems providing for the needs of his family. Against established custom and the reproofs of her father-in-law, a retired professor, his wife Arati looks for a job. She finds work selling sewing machines door-to-door. When she proves successful in her work and gains untraditional self-confidence, her husband is unable to accept the situation and would love for her to quit. As the result of a crisis at the bank, however, he loses his job and his wife's work becomes even more essential. Arati establishes a friendship with a colleague, an Anglo-Indian woman, and takes her side when she is unjustly punished by their boss. On the strength of her convictions, Arati is willing to sacrifice her own job and her family's needs as an expression of solidarity with her friend. The film ends with a more equal re-alignment of the relationship between Arati and her husband.
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Charulata

Charulata (The lonely Wife) 1964

Starring - Madhabi Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sailen Mukherjee
Story - Rabindranath Tagore
Script and Music - Satyajit Ray
Cinematography - Subrata Mitra
Art Direction - Bansi Chandragupta
Editing - Dulal Dutta
Produced by - R.D. Bansal
Directed by - Satyajit Ray

Synopsis
Calcutta 1879. Bhupati Dutta (Sailen Mukherjee), a wealthy intellectual edits and publishes a political weekly in English called 'The Sentinel.' His sensitive and beautiful, young wife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) spends her time doing needlework and reading Bengali novels. Sensing her loneliness, Bhupati invites her older brother Umapada and his wife Mandakini to live with them. Umapada becomes the manager of the magazine but Mandakini, a rustic and unlettered woman is no companion for Charu. Bhupati's cousin Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee) arrives to spend his vacation with Bhupati. At Bhupati's suggestion, the literary minded Amal helps and encourages Charu with her writing. The two get more and more drawn to each other. Bhupati, busy with the magazine as usual, is unaware of this development. Umapada escapes with the funds at his disposal. Bhupati narrates this to Amal, the only one he feels he can trust. Amal feeling guilty and not wanting to hurt Bhupati sneaks out the same night, leaving him a note. Charu and Bhupati go on a holiday and it appears her feelings are under control. But on their return to Calcutta, a letter from Amal brings back memories of their times together and she breaks down unaware her husband is standing behind her. Bhupati shocked at what ahs happened behind his back, leaves the house. When he returns, they both make a hesitant effort to reach out to each other. But their extended hands remain frozen in a tentative gesture of compromise that can only confirm their inner separation.

The film
Charulata is without doubt one of the greatest films of Indian Cinema and Satyajit Ray's most flawless film. The film is crafted beautifully with meticulous detail to period and exquisitely creates the Bengal of the 1870s. Charulata or Charu for short, when she is first shown, appears to belong to that long line of submissive women portrayed by Ray in a number of films, from the Apu trilogy onward. She is trapped by tradition, enclosed within the shuttered rooms of her husband's house, apparently acquiescent in her role of the compliant wife who wants nothing from life but her husband's happiness. Ray's camera lingers on this prison of a house, with its heavy Victorian furniture, its embroidery, its cameos of Queen Victoria... The tranquility of these early scenes is soon revealed to be superficial, as Ray gently hints at Charu's restlessness... This opening sequence establishing Charu's boredom and loneliness as she wanders aimlessly in the house has just one line of dialogue in seven minutes but is so beautifully handled that dialogue is never missed.

The subject matter of the film is highly psychological and very personal to the characters. Ray, with his mastery over the form, manages to successfully convey to his audience, all the innermost feelings and even whole thought processes of his characters, with the simplest of styles. He uses no dazzling show of technique, no slick editing, no dramatic hype and surprisingly minimal dialogue. The centerpiece of the film is the famous garden-swing sequence. It is in this scene that Charu 'allows' herself to fall in love with Amal. It is an eight minute long sequence and for most of its duration, there isn't a single spoken word. With innovative camera angles and a lucid narrative style, Ray precisely enlightens his audience with Charu's state of mind. It is one of the best examples of his genius. To quote him, “The beauty of a woman like Charulata is largely the beauty of her mind. What I have tried to bring out is the richness of that mind."
Since Ray has tried to delve inside his characters it is interesting to note that except for the garden sequence and the holiday the couple go for, the film refers to the outside world only via dialogue with references to the novelist Bankimchandra, to Gladstone, Disraeli and the other dominant political issues of the time.

Though the relationship between Amal and Charu is an illicit one according to society norms, what makes it work and strike a chord in the heart of the viewer is their lack of conscious knowledge of what is happening to them and thus this gives them a certain nobility of innocence. Also, what is of important note in the film is that Charu is the only one of the three who has no crisis of conscious. Bhupati feels guilty for not having devoted enough time to her; Amal realizes he was about to betray the trust of his cousin and beats a hasty retreat. Charu alone never turns her back on her passion. In her reconciliation with her husband there is no sense of guilt, only recognition of reality.

The film boasts of some of Ray's most cinematic sequences and the music sets the tone of the film with remarkable use of musical motifs. Amal serenades Charu with the famous Tagore song Ami Chini-Go-Chini sung brilliantly by Kishore Kumar. And the film is greatly helped by an absolutely stunning performance by Madhabi Mukherjee in the title role. She lives the role; she is Charulata.

Charulata was a triumph for Ray and was both an enormous box-office as well as critical success. Quoting the New York Times dated September 11, 1965, "As usual, Mr. Ray has composed the picture in the most literal sense of the word and exquisitely. He has made the most of beautiful young Madhabi Mukherjee, who gives a lustrously affecting and almost mind-readable performance as the yearning heroine. In a sense, the very opening shot, Miss Mukherjee's hands darting a needle into an embroidery hoop, keys all that follows. Arranging every single camera frame to convey nuance, mood or tension, Mr. Ray has photographically embroidered a steady flow of quiet images with precise, striking acuity. One montage when the day-dreaming wife, in a garden swing, rocks to and fro like a pendulum is unforgettable."

Kapurush O Mahapurush

Kapurush O Mahapurush (The Coward and the Holy Man) 1965

Year - 1965
Producer - R. D. Bansal & Co. (R. D. B. Productions)
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short stories Janaiko Kapuruser Kahini by Premendra Mitra (The Coward) and Birinchibaba by Parasuram (The Holy Man)
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Nripen Paul, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Length - Kapurush 74 min.; Mahapurush 65 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast for Kapurush:
Bimal Gupta - Haradhan Bannerjee
Amitabha Roy - Soumitra Chatterjee
Karuna Gupta - Madhabi Mukherjee

Amitabh, a scriptwriter of commercial films, drives in the country, scouting for locations. When his vehicle breaks down, he is taken in by a tea planter whose wife is Karuna, a woman whom he had formerly loved but whom he was unable or unwilling to take care of. In those days he was a poor student, uncomfortable with his involvement with this woman from a well-off family; just as she had made up her mind to accept his situation and bravely confront her family's disapproval, he left her. Now that he has become successful on his own, Amitabh would love for Karuna to leave her husband and live with him. He arranges a rendezvous at the train station.

Cast for Mahapurush:
Birinchi Baba - Charuprakash Ghosh
His assistant - Rabi Ghosh
Gurupada Mitter - Prasad Mukherjee
Buchki - Gitali Roy
Satya - Satindra Banerjee
Nibaran - Somen Bose
Professor Nani - Santosh Dutta
His wife - Renuka Roy

Birinchi manages to pass himself off as a sadhu (sage, holy man) and takes advantage of the credulity of a father and his daughter Buchki. This does not suit her fiance Satya, who fears that her religious conversion will pull her away from him. He will do anything to recover his beloved and expose the sadhu or holy man.

Nayak

Nayak (The Hero) 1966

Year - 1966
Producer - R. D. Bansal & Co. (R. D. B. Productions)
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Nripen Paul, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Length - 120 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Arindan Mukherjee - Uttam Kumar
Aditi Sen Gupta - Sharmila Tagore
Shankar - Somen Bose
Makunda Lahiri - Bireswar Sen
Jyoti - Bimal Ghosh
Biresh - Premangsu Bose
Promila - Sumita Sanyal
Mr. Bose - Ranjit Sen
Manorama - Bharati Devi
Bulbul - Lali Chowdhury
Pritish Sarkar - Kamu Mukherjee
Molly - Susmita Mukherjee
Ajoy - Subrata Sen Sharma
Sefalika - Jamuna Sinha
Kamal Misra - Hiralal
Aghore - Jogesh Chatterjee
Swamiji - Satyaj Banerjee
Conductor - Gopal Dey

When all the flights are booked, Arindan, a star of Bengali films, is forced to take the train from Calcutta to New Delhi in order to receive an award. Habituated to admiring crowds around him it is a young journalist, Aditi, who engages his attention. Lucidly, and critical of the function of a star, she interrogates him and compels him to re-examine his life. Through the bond that develops between them, the hero reviews his actor's life, his moments of strength and moments of crisis, and is again stricken by doubt. In the end, the journalist chooses to suppress the confidences the hero has revealed in order to allow him to preserve his public image.

Chiriakhana

Chiriakhana (The Zoo) 1967

Year - 1967
Producer - Star Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Chiriakhana by Saradindu Banerjee
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Nripen Paul, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Length - 137 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Byomkesh Bakshi - Uttam Kumar
Ajit - Sailen Mukherjee
Nisanath Sen - Susil Majumdar
Damyanti - Kanika Majumdar
Bijoy - Subhendu Chatterjee
Doctor Bhujangadhar Das - Syamal Ghosal
Nepal Gupta - Prasad Mukherjee
Mukul - Supira Roy
Muskil Mia - Nripati Chatterjee
Nazarbibi - Subrata Chatterjee
Banalakshmi - Gitali Roy
Rakiklal - Kalipada Chakravarty
Panugopal - Chinmoy Roy
Jahar Ganguli - Ramen Mullick
Bankim Ghosh - Brajadas
Inspector - Nilatpal Dey

Ray made this film, like Abhijan before this to his assistants who conceived of the initial idea. He had almost no input in the choice of the story and casting. However he agreed to direct the film when the producers insisted on inclusion of Ray himself.
The director of a retirement home calls in a private detective, Byomkesh, to investigate one of his residents, a former film star. While delivering some new information on the phone, the director is assassinated. A deaf-mute is a witness. He is killed in turn when he writes down what he has seen.
Ray, though pleased with the final result, was aware that "the vital clue is a matter of semantics which is untranslatable." In addition he thought it might be too subtle and introspective for the wider audiences. "Certainly not for Bond-addicts!" he said. Therefore it is not surprising that few have seen this film outside Bengal.

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The adventure of Goupi & Bagha) 1968

Year - 1968
Producer - Purnima Pictures
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The story Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne by Upendrakisore Ray Chaudhury
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Nripen Paul, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Length - 132 min.
Print - Black & White and Color

Cast:
Goopy - Tapen Chatterjee
Bagha - Rabi Ghosh
King of Shundi - Santosh Dutta
King of Halla - Santosh Dutta
Barfi, the Magician - Harindranath Chatterjee
First Minister of Halla - Jahar Roy
Commander-in-Chief of Halla - Santi Chatterjee
Spy from Halla - Chinmoy Roy
King of Amloki - Durgadas Banerjee
Goopy's father - Govinda Chakravarty
King of Ghosts - Prasad Mukherjee
Village Elders - Haridhan Mukherjee, Abani Chatterjee, Khagen Pathak, Binoy Bose, Prasad Mukherjee

The action occurs in an imaginary land. Goopy the singer and Bagha the drummer are untalented musicians whose playing provokes as much ridicule from the peasants as it does contempt from the king. The only audience they manage to charm is the ghosts. Wearing magic sandals, they arrive in the kingdom of Shundi where, to everyone's amazement, the ruler admires their music. Meanwhile, the king of the neighboring realm of Halla, who is the twin brother of the king of Shundi, wants to declare war. Goopy and Bagha do everything in their power to dissuade him, and finally it is their singing that demobilizes the troops at the last moment. Reconciled, the twin brothers offer to reward Goopy and Bagha with their daughters in marriage.

January 10, 2009

Aranyer Din Ratri

Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest) 1969

Year - 1969
Producer - Priya Films
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Aranyer Din Ratri by Sunil Ganguly
Photography - Soumendu Roy, Purnendu Bose
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Sujit Sarkar
Length - 115 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Harinath - Samit Bhanja
Asim - Soumitra Chatterjee
Sanjoy - Subhendu Chatterjee
Sekhar - Rabi Ghosh
Sadasiv Tripathi - Pahari Sanyal
Aparna - Sharmila Tagore
Jaya - Kaveri Bose
Duli - Simi Garewal
Atasi - Aparna Sen

Four friends from Calcutta who have very different personalities make a holiday excursion into the country, to a tiny village in the state of Bihar where they set themselves up in a bungalow. A series of minor events, all connected to their respective reactions to their new environment, reveals their characters more deeply. Displaced from their customary sense of social rules, they engage Lakha as a servant until the day when Hari, having lost his wallet, accuses him of stealing it, strikes him, and sends him away. They meet a beautiful local woman, Duli. When Hari uses her for some fast sex, Lakha ambushes him in revenge. The others become very friendly with two young women from the neighborhood who live on a comfortable estate. The inhibited Sanjoy does not dare to respond to Jaya's interest while Aparna leaves Asim after giving him her address on a five-rupee note. The friends depart again for the city, pretending to be unaffected by their experiences.
Referred to as "Ray's Mozartian masterpiece" for its emotional complexity and delicate balancing of responses, this film proves, definitively, Ray's affinity with Mozart.
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

Pratidwandi

Pratidwandi (The Adversary) 1970

Year - 1970
Producer - Priya Films
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Pratidwandi by Sunil Ganguly
Photography - Soumendu Roy, Purnendu Bose
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - J. D. Irani, Durgadas Mitra
Length - 110 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Sutapa - Krishna Bose
Siddartha Chowdhury - Dhritiman Chatterjee
Siben - Kalyan Chowdhury
Sarojini - Indira Devi
Tunu - Debraj Roy
Keya - Joysree Roy
Lotika - Sefali
Sanyal - Soven Lahiri
Keya's father - Pisu Majumdar
Keya's aunt - Dhara Roy
Sanyal's wife - Mamata Chatterjee

Siddartha, a medical student, feels he must discontinue his studies following the death of his father. He looks for a job and has to submit to a formal interviews requiring that the candidate be examined by a committee on questions of general culture. He realizes that he lacks the all important element of backing. Somewhat mentally disoriented, wandering in a Calcutta shocked by intense political upheaval and revolutionary violence, he ends by accepting a medical sales position, away from the city and the girl he loves.

January 9, 2009

Seemabaddha

Seemabaddha (Company Limited) 1971

Year - 1971
Producer - Chitranjali
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Seemabaddha by Mani Shankar Mukherjee
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Ashoke Bose
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - J. D. Irani, Durgadas Mitra
Length - 112 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Talukdar - Haradhan Bannerjee
Syamal Chatterjee - Barun Chanda
Sir Baren Roy - Harindranath Chatterjee
Dolan - Parumita Chowdhury
Sudarsana/Tutul - Sharmila Tagore
Syamal's mother - Indira Roy
Syamal's father - Promod Ganguli

Syamal, sales director of an English firm in Calcutta which manufactures ventilators, aspires to win the job of company director but must compete with a colleague who is manoeuvering to get the position for himself. His sister-in-law Sudarsana arrives to spend a few days with them. She remembers having been jealous of her sister's marriage, something Syamal appears not to have forgotten. In order to cover up his company's problems meeting a production deadline, Syamal resorts to provoking a strike at the factory and, in the end, obtains the coveted directorship. His machinations are observed by Sudarsana who, unlike her sister, gains clear insight into the personality of her brother-in-law.

Ashani Sanket

Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder) 1973

Year - 1973
Producer - Balaka Movies
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Ashani Sanket by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Ashoke Bose
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - J. D. Irani, Durgadas Mitra
Length - 101 min.
Print - Color

Cast:
Gangacharan Chakravarty - Soumitra Chatterjee
Ananga - Babita
Biswas - Ramesh Mukherjee
Moti - Chitra Banerjee
Dinabandhu - Govinda Chakravarty
Chutki - Sandhya Roy
Jadu - Noni Ganguli
Moksada - Seli Pal
Khenti - Suchita Roy
Nibaran - Anil Ganguli
Adhar - Debatosh Ghosh

The action, which occurs in a tiny village in 1943, during World War II, is based on the man-made famine that caused the deaths of five million inhabitants of Colonial Bengal.
Gangacharan, a Brahmin recently settled in the village with his wife Ananga, decides to start a school in exchange for being supported by the villagers. Airplanes disturb the peaceful sky, a metaphor for the disruption of traditional life of the villagers by War in Europe. It causes the price of rice to increase rapidly. This causes hardship for and rioting by the villagers and hoarding of grain by merchants. Gangacharan, shrewd, manages to initially keep himself supplied with food in exchange for his services. However conditions begin to deteriorate rapidly. Anaga is molested while hunting for edible roots in the lush forest, highlighting the irony of the situation: there is no drought and the fields have produced a good harvest that season. The film ends with Anaga telling Ganga about her pregnancy as a deluge of starving humanity approaches them.

Sonar Kella

Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) 1974

Year - 1974
Producer - Govt. of West Bengal
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Sonar Kella by Satyajit Ray
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Ashoke Bose
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - J. D. Irani, Anil Talukdar
Length - 115 min.
Print - Color

Cast:
Pradosh Mitter (Feluda) - Soumitra Chatterjee
Lalmohan Ganguli (Jotayu) - Santosh Dutta
Tapesh Mitter (Tapesh) - Siddartha Chatterjee
Mukul Dhar - Kusal Chakravarty
Doctor Hemanga Hajra - Sailen Mukherjee
Amiyanath Burman - Ajoy Banerjee
Mandar Bose - Kamu Mukherjee
Mukul 2 - Santanu Bagchi
Uncle Sidhu - Harindranath Chatterjee
Sarkar's father - Sunil Sarkar
Mukul's mother - Rekha Chatterjee
Journalist - Ashoke Mukherjee
Lawyer - Bimal Chatterjee

A parapsychologist discovers that the drawings of the child Mukul represent scenes from a former life. It emerges that everything had taken place in a fortress, where the boy's father had worked as a gem cutter. The child is led to places in Rajastan where such an environment might be found. Alerted to this strange phenomenon by newspaper reports, some bandits kidnap the boy. The detective Feluda is engaged, along with his assistant Tapesh, to recover the child.

Jana Aranya

Jana Aranya (The Middle Man) 1975

Year - 1975
Producer - Indus Films (Subir Guha)
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Jana Aranya by Mani Shankar Mukherjee
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Ashoke Bose
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - J. D. Irani, Anil Talukdar, Adinath Nag, Sujit Ghosh
Length - 131 min.
Print - Black & White

Cast:
Somnath Banerjee - Pradip Mukherjee
Somnath's father - Satya Banerjee
Bhombol - Dipankar Dey
Kamala - Lily Chakravarty
Somnath's girl friend - Aparna Sen
Sukumar - Gautam Chakravarty
Kauna/Juthika - Sudesna Das
Bisu - Utpal Dutta
Mr. Mitter - Rabi Ghosh
Ashok - Bimal Chatterjee
Mrs. Ganguli - Arati Banerjee
Mrs. Biswas - Padma Devi
Goenka - Soven Lahiri
Hiralal - Santosh Dutta
Jagabandhu, MLA/MP - Bimal Deb
Pimp - Ajeya Mukherjee
Mr. Baksi - Kalyan Sen
Fakirchand - Alokendu Dey

Somnath, a student, ends up absurdly failing his exams when the grader, without his glasses, is unable to decipher his miniscule writing. He gives up his studies, looks for a job, and decides to launch himself on a career in business. He becomes an independent salesman, paid on commission, to the great despair of his father, a descendant of a noble caste who considers engaging in commerce to be supremely disgraceful to the family reputation. As part of his business dealings, Somnath discovers the expedient value of corrupt practices. After lengthy hesitation, he agrees to provide a prostitute who is none other than the sister of his best friend from school in order to obtain a contract. He says nothing about all this to his father, who may to some extent only be pretending to be ignorant of what is being concealed from him.

Shatranj Ke Khilari

Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) 1977

Year - 1977
Producer - Devki Chitra Productions (Suresh Jindal)
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Shatranj Ke Khilari by Premchand
Dialogue - Satyajit Ray, Shama Zaidi, Javed Siddiqi
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta & Ashoke Bose (Assistant)
Costumes - Shama Zaidi
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Narinder Singh, Samir Majumdar
Choreography - Birju Maharaj
Animation - Ram Mohan
Length - 113 min.
Print - Color

Cast:
Mirza Sajjad Ali - Sanjeev Kumar
Mir Roshan Ali - Saeed Jaffrey
Wajid Ali Shah - Amjad Khan
General Outtram - Richard Attenborough
Captain Weston - Tom Alter
Khurshid, Mirza's wife - Shabana Azmi
Ali Naqi Khan - Victor Bannerjee
Nafeesa - Farida Jalal
Aulea Begum, queen mother - Veena
Munshi Nandlal - David Abraham
Aquil - Farooq Saikh
Hiria - Leela Mishra
Dr. Joseph Fayrer - Barry John
Kalloo - Samarth Narain
Imtaiz Hussain - Budho Advani
Bookie - Kamu Mukherjee

The action takes place in 1856, in Lucknow, capital of the moslem kingdom of Oudh. The king is Wajid Ali Shah, who prefers to devote himself to the pleasures of art instead of submitting to the subterfuges and stakes of politics. He dedicates his time, sequestered in his palace, to poetry and to recitals of music and dance. The English Company of India, which is strengthening its grip on the country (in 1858 the British crown would directly take over control of the government), charges general Outtram with dethroning the king, who eventually abdicates without a fight. Parallel to this, two aristocrats ravenously indulge their passion for chess while neglecting everything else, beginning with their respective wives. We first see them playing chess in their houses, and they end up playing outdoors, without having noticed the historic changes ocurring under their noses.

Joi Baba Felunath

Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) 1978

Year - 1978
Producer - R.D. Bansal & Co. (R. D. B. Productions)
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The novel Joi Baba Felunath by Satyajit Ray
Photography - Soumendu Roy
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Ashoke Bose
Music - Satyajit Ray
Sound - Robin Sen Gupta
Length - 112 min.
Print - Color

Cast:
Pradosh Mitter (Felu) - Soumitra Chatterjee
Lalmohan Ganguli (Jatayu) - Santosh Dutta
Tapesh Mitter (Tapesh) - Siddharta Chatterjee
Maganlal Meghraj - Utpal Dutta
Ruku Ghosal - Jit Bose
Umanath Ghosal - Haradhan Banerjee
Ambika Ghosal - Bimal Chatterjee
Bisash Sinha - Biplab Chatterjee
Nibaran Chakravarty - Satya Banerjee
Gunomoy Bagchi - Moloy Roy
Sasi Pal - Santosh Sinha
Machli Baba - Manu Mukherjee
Inspector Tewari - Indubhusan Gujral
Arjun - Kamu Mukherjee

The action is set in Benares. The owner of a statuette of Ganesh (the elephant god) is mystified when he receives an offer to purchase the figurine for a price exceeding what would seem to be its reasonable value on the art market. Why should the object be so desirable? Soon afterwards the statuette is stolen, but the detective Feluda — with his indispensible companion Tapesh at his side, and with the help of a writer, an author of novels for children — attempts to unravel the mystery. A reading of Tintin in the Congo, among other things, turns out to be a great help to them.