Saluting Satyajit Ray - The Cornerstone of realistic cinema in India
Even before film legends like Raj Kapoor, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai etc took Indian cinema to International arena there has been one filmmaker who adores the crown of being India’s First Filmmaker to introduce Indian cinema to International cinema.
He is the only Indian filmmaker to be bestowed with the India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna and that’s not all he also has an enviable list of 32 Indian National Film Awards and last but not the list he is the only Indian filmmaker to be honored the honorary Oscar Award for his incredible style of filmmaking.
Wanna know who is the great film wizard? No prize for guessing he is none other but the exceptional and immensely talented Satyajit Ray, the cornerstone of realistic cinema in India.
What makes Satyajit Ray raise above all other top notch filmmakers of Indian cinema is that he gave Indian cinema respectability and an identity when Indian cinema was being mocked by world cinema for its ridiculous song, dance and fantasy themes.
Readers would be surprised to know that before joining film fraternity Ray was very disappointed by the quality and content of films made in India and had even written a letter to the editor of a reputed newspaper decrying the same. Hence when he got the opportunity to make cinema he focused on quality subjects (drawn from authors of great novelist) and screenplay, which he considered an important part of filmmaking.
Thus when Indian cinema made romantic and action thrillers Satyajit Ray changed the scenario and stunned the world with his debut Bengali movie PATHER PANCHALI (1955) that realistically explored the naked truth of India’s worst ever Bengal famine. The poignant tale of the struggle of a famine hit family and the upbringing of a boy name Appu took the audience and the world critics alike by the magic of the debutant filmmaker.
PATHER PANCHALI not only won the 3rd National Film Awards in 1955but also created ripples at multiple International film festivals and won many awards including the prestigious Cannes Award for Best film on Human Documentation. In fact in 1958 PATHER PANCHALI was also nominated for Best Film at the 11th British Academy Film Awards. The esteemed Time Magazine places the movie in its list of Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time!
Satyajit Ray’s next film was an extension of the theme of his protagonist Appu, in PATHER PANCHALI, how the poor boy from a village makes his way in the world in his next two films APARAJITO (1956) and THE WORLD OF APU (1959). Ray’s trilogy till date is regarded as a milestone in filmmaking and are lauded for his unique style, sharp details and craftsmanship that intensified the bitter reality that others feared to depict!
Another greatest asset of Satyajit Ray was his ability to make first-rate cinema with minimum funds and an amateur crew. Ray believed in simple cinema that reached the soul of the viewers. Hence his characters were drawn from real life and were ‘Hat Ke’ from the typical Bollywood flick. That’s the reason the legend himself said, “My films are the antithesis of traditional Bollywood films, both in style and content.”
In fact when Satyajit Ray made his only Bollywood film SHATRANJ KE KHILARI (1977), with Sanjeev Kumar and Shabana Azmi, the film failed at the box-office though it did won critical laurels.
Generation of filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar etc. have been highly influenced from Ray’s kind of cinema and even today we have young filmmakers like Chaitanya Tamhane (Marathi film COURT) and Neeraj Ghaywan maker of MASAAN pursuing Ray’s style. That’s not all even foreign filmmakers like Majid Majidi from Iran are inspired from Ray’s school of filmmaking.
Glamsham.Com salutes the legend on his 95 birth anniversary that falls today.