Satyajit Ray

From Academic Kids


Satyajit Ray (May 2 1921 - April 23 1992) was a Bengali film director whose films are perhaps the greatest testament to Bengali and Indian cinema. He is mostly known for his Apu trilogy (the films Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu.), but has a large collection of works that are acclaimed among the world film industry, most notably by the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. He has been called one of the four greatest director/producers of cinema in the world, and Kurosawa famously said of Ray:

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


Born into a relatively wealthy and highly influential Bramho family in Kolkata [Calcutta]]. His father was one of the leading writers of Bengal in the vein of Lewis Carrol and Edward Lear, and his grandfather was a Renaissance man with many interests ranging from writing to typography. Ray was well-educated. He was a student at the Presidency College, Kolkata and also at the Vishwabharati university (Shantiniketan) established by Rabindranath Tagore. Thereafter, he spent many years as a layout artist in a publishing house and worked with a reputed advertising agency; inspired by the novel Pather Panchali, he decided to make it into a film and shot it on location using friends as actors, putting up the funding himself. Partway through filming he ran out of funds; the Bengal state government loaned him the rest, allowing him to finish the film. The film was successful both artistically and commercially, winning notice at the 1956 Cannes film festival and providing a boon to the Indian film industry.

Ray's work tends to be both realistic and subdued; his early work is compassionate and touching; his later work, while more political, is also at times cynical, but still infused with his typical humor.

In 1962, Ray directed Kanchenjungha, his first original screenplay and colour film. This is one of the few films which has been shot in real time.

Satyajit Ray won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1985 for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. He received the Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, one of only two Oscar winners from India. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1992.

In 1967, Ray wrote a script for a movie entitled "The Alien". Columbia Pictures were in talks to produce this movie. Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando were rumored to play the leading parts. However Ray was surprised to find that the script he had co-written had already been copyrighted and the fee appropriated. Marlon Brando dropped out of the project and though an attempt was made to bring James Coburn in his place, Ray was dissilusioned and had enough of Hollywood machinations and returned to Calcutta. Columbia was interested in reviving the project in the 70s and 80s but nothing came of it. When E.T. was released in 1982, many saw striking similarities in the movie to Ray's earlier script. Ray believed that Spielberg's movie "would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies." Spielberg denied this by saying "I was a kid in High School when this script was circulating in Hollywood".

He made Shatranj Ke Khiladi, an Urdu/Hindustani movie about chess players of Lucknow. This film starred Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Shabana Azmi, Victor Bannerjee and Richard Attenborough. Apart from a later short film in Hindi, Sadgati, starring Om Puri and the late Smita Patil, this was his only feature film in a language other than Bengali. Both these films were based on original stories by Munshi Premchand, the giant of Hindi literature.

Satyajit Ray was also a prolific writer in Bengali. Arguably his most famous written works were the exploits of Feluda, a Bengali detective, and Professor Shanku, a scientist. Most of his writings have now been translated into English, and are finding an eager second generation of readers.


External links

eo:Satjajxit RAY fr:Satyajit Ray kn:ಸತ್ಯಜಿತ್ ರೇ sa:सत्यजित रायsv:Satyajit Ray


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