Ray Diary

From the Diaries of Ray

Extracts from a Banaras Diary
(From the Book: 'Our Films Their Films')

March 1, 1956 - Set out at 5am to explore the ghats. Half an hour to sunrise, yet more light then one would have thought, and more activity. The earliest bathers come about 4am. I gather. The pigeons not yet active yet, but the wrestlers are. Incomparable 'atmosphere'. One just wants to go on absorbing it, being chastened and invigorated by it. The thought of having to work - planning, picking sites and extras, setting up camera and microphone, staging action - is worrying. But here, if anywhere, is a truly inspiring setting. It is not enough to say that the ghats are wonderful or exciting or unique. One must get dowm to analysing the reasons for their uniqueness, their impact. The more you probe, the more is revealed, and the more you know what to include in your frame and what to leave out.  

Extracts from 'A long time on the little road'
(From the Book: 'Our Films Their Films'; p30)

It was an episode in the screenplay where the two children of the strory, brother & sister, stray from their village and chance upon a field of Kaash flowers. The two have had a quarrel, and here in this enchanted setting they are reconciled and their long journey is rewarded by their first sight of the a railway train. I chose to begin with this scene because on paper it seemed both effective and simple. I considered this important, because the whole idea behind lauching the production with only 8,000 rupees in the bank was to produce quickly and cheaply a reasonable length of rough cut which we hoped would establish our bonafides, the lack of which had so far stood in the way of our getting a financier.

Extracts from 'What is wrong with Indian films?'
(From the Book: 'Our Films Their Films'; p22)

It should be realized that the average American film is a bad model, if only because it depicts a way of life so utterly at variance with our own. Moreover, the high technical polish which is the hallmark of the standard Hollywood product, would be impossible to achieve under existing Indian conditions. What the Indian cinema needs today is not more gloss, but more imagination, more integrity, and more intelligent appreciation of the limitations of the medium.

Extracts from 'Problems of a Bengali film maker'
(From the Book: 'Our Films Their Films'; p39)

We make films in the Bengali language. In Bombay, the language employed is Hindi, while in Madras is Hindi as well as a choice of five different South Indian Languages. Bengali is understood by about 15% of Indian's total population, which makes the market for Bengali films a very small one indeed. It has been calculated that if a Bengali film costs above Rs. 150,000, in nine cases out of ten it will not gets its money back. A Hindi film can afford to spend six times as much and reasonably expect to make a profit.
As a result of this, investment in films in Bengal has been cautious and limited, and little has been done in the past 20 years or so in the way of technical improvements. Studios remain only partially equipped, laboratory work continues to be erratic, and a general air of privation pervades all departments of production. what Bengal has achieved so far has been more through human ingenuity and hard work than any skilled employment of technical resources.

Extracts from 'SR-Inner Eye'
(A book by Andrew Robinson)

"I do not put my faith in any new institutions, but in the individuals all over the world who think clearly, feel nobly and act rightly. They are the channels of moral truth" - Rabindranath Tagore

The small poem that Tagore wrote for the boy Satyajit.

Extracts from 'Koh-i-noor'
(From 'SR-Inner Eye' - A book by Andrew Robinson)

Santiniketan made me the combined product of East and West that I am. As a film maker I owe as much to Santiniketan as I do to American and European cinema. And when I made my first film, Pather Panchali, and embellished it with rural details which I was encountering for the first time, Tagore's little poem in my autograph album came back again and again to my mind.