May 11, 2011

Satyajit Ray films still the most popular in Bengal

Source: TOI
KOLKATA: Nineteen years after Satyajit Ray breathed his last in 1992 at the age of 70, cine buffs in the city continue to mourn the passing away of the legendary director. Though contemporary Bengali cinema has come of age in recent years with interesting scripts and competent direction, movie-goers continue to miss Ray's midas tough.
On the sidelines of a function organized by Ekhon Satyajit—a publication dedicated on Ray's films and film-making techniques—to commemorarte Ray's 90th birth anniversary, magazine editor Somnath Roy felt Ray would be a near impossible task to beat. Ray was as popular in India as abroad with his movies winning accolades at all major film festivals including Cannes. He was conferred an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in cinema a month before he died.
"What sets Ray apart from other film-makers like Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen is the simplicity of narrative form, consistency of subject choice and great cinematography. His frames were so powerful that they get etched in memory. Today's movies are technically a lot improved. Some of the alternate films have good scripts. Others have sparkling cinematography. But overall, the harmony that one gets to sense in a Ray movie is missing," said Roy.
During his career as a film-maker spanning 1955-1991, Ray made 26 feature films, 5 documentaries and 2 short films. Each of them is heralded as a classic and remain as popular today with audiences never failing to attend Ray retrospectives. Among them were the Apu trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar ), Devi, Kanchenjungha, Mahanagar, Charulata, Nayak, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Aranyer Din Ratri, Seemabaddha, Asani Sanket, Sonar Kella, Jana Aranya, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Ghare Baire and Agantuk.
Ace photographer Nimai Ghosh, whom Ray had called 'a Boswell working with a camera rather than a pen' and had captured the master in action from 1967 till his death in 1992, is still in awe of the film-maker. "I was in a trance all those years and did it purely out of my admiration for Ray. I was star-struck and in awe of him till the last. I would click him relentlessly and often I would be unhappy with the frames. But I would keep taking his photos for I couldn't stop myself," recalled Ghosh.
He took more than 80,000 photographs of Ray, which almost graphically depict his life and work. Like the one in which Ray is perched on a rock during an outdoor shoot and another which shows the master in an animated discussion with his actors at a script-reading session. Such is the popularity of Ray that Ghosh's book of black & white photographs on the maestro that was released a couple of days ago, has been a sell-out.

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