Book launch and Ray memorial lecture by Naseeruddin Shah


Book launch and Ray memorial lecture by Naseeruddin Shah: Image-1
Pix: Mala Mukerjee


Sometime in the early days of his career as a film-maker, Satyajit Ray wanted to make a short film on Pt. Ravi Shankar. As he said, he knew Ravi Shankar well personally and liked the sound of his instrument. The film was presumably intended to be a tribute to a friend. He made a 32-page visual script containing well over a hundred sketches of shots in the manner of the storyboard he had done for Pather Panchali. There was no dialogue in the script but only some technical instructions about camera movements and other things, aside from the sketches. Why the film did not take off the storyboard remains an enduring mystery.

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture by Naseeruddin Shah: Image-2
Pix: Mala Mukerjee


This is the first time the entire script has come out from the archives of Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives (Satyajit Ray Society, in brief) and seen the light of the day. The book, containing a facsimile of the script accompanied with a reflective introduction by Sankarlal Bhattacharjee and articles and interviews by Ray and Ravi Shankar, has been brought out by HarperCollins Publishers India in association with Satyajit Ray Society. This is the second time Satyajit Ray Society and HarperCollins collaborate to bring out a book by Ray, the first having been Deep Focus: Reflections on Cinema that came out in December 2011.

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture by Naseeruddin Shah: Image-3
Pix: Mala Mukerjee


Mr. Naseeruddin Shah, renowned screen and stage actor, launched the book at a ceremony organized by the Society and HarperCollins at Satyajit Ray Auditorium, ICCR, Kolkata on the evening of 2 May, 2014, which was the 93rd birth anniversary of Satyajit Ray. Mr. Shah also delivered a Ray memorial lecture to a packed hall. Others who shared the dais with him were actors Mr. Soumitra Chatterjee and Mr. Dhritiman Chaterji, filmmaker Mr. Sandip Ray, Satyajit Ray Society president Mr. Dhruba Narayan Ghosh, ICCR regional director Smt. Rajasree Behera, and Mr. Shantanu Raychoudhuri, managing editor of HarperCollins. On behalf of the organizers, Soumitra Chatterjee handed a small gift to Mr. Shah, while Mr. Dhritiman Chaterjee introduced Mr. Shah.


Mr. Shah released yet another book, entitled 14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray, a Harper Perennial publication, at the ceremony. The book is a collection of translations of short stories that Ray adapted for his films. Two short films by Ray, Two and The Inner Eye (courtesy Films Division, Government of India), were screened after the main part of the ceremony was over.

 

Satyajit Ray Posters Show
By Isabel Stevens

As an exhibition of Satyajit Ray's posters (drawing on the collections of the BFI National Archive and the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata) opens at BFI Southbank, London to accompany a retrospective of Ray's films (20-31 August 2013) there, here are a selection of some of his most innovative compositions. To view the poster gallery (courtesy: The Guardian), click

http://www.theguardian.com/film/gallery/2013/aug/13/satyajit-ray-film-posters-in-pictures

Directors such as Stanley Kubrick or Alfred Hitchcock may have collaborated closely with their film poster designers; other filmmakers may have had a background in graphic design (Abbas Kiarostami) or started their careers illustrating posters (Polish surrealist Walerian Borowczyk); some have even occasionally designed their own (Akira Kurosawa). But none have authored such an imaginative collection of posters for their own films as Indian director Satyajit Ray.


The celebrated and prolific Bengali filmmaker made over 30 films throughout his career, his lyrical style and humanistic approach changing the face of Indian cinema while introducing the nation onscreen to audiences worldwide. However it's often not known that before Ray embarked on his feature debut Pather Panchali in 1955, he spent ten years working as a graphic designer for a British advertising company in Kolkata, where he rebelled against dominant Western styles, making his creations feel and look wholly Indian. Even after he left that behind for a career in cinema, the filmmaker could always be found sketching and he took the definition of auteur to a new level with his own set and costume designs, credit sequences and logos.


In his poster designs, he distilled the themes and moods of his films into one image, a paper trailer posted all over India's streets. Such bold, poetic, occasionally even surreal, graphic experiments that fused Western and Indian design influences and which sometimes even dared to leave off actors' names and faces, were a far cry from the busy, star-laden advertisements for popular Bollywood releases of the time.


As an exhibition of Ray's posters (drawing on the collections of the BFI National Archive and the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata) opens at BFI Southbank, London to accompany a retrospective of Ray's films there, here are a selection of some of his most innovative compositions.


Pather Panchali (1955)
Pather Panchali
Created from drawings and notes rather than a script, by a filmmaker, crew and cast with little on-set experience, Ray's debut Pather Panchali offered a child's-eye portrait of impoverished rural life. Realist, lyrical and ever so human, the film's antithesis to Bollywood and its extravaganzas is signposted in this delicate and personal folk-art-tinged design which incorporates hand-drawn motifs, as if Apu, the film's six-year-old protagonist had scribbled them himself.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata


The Goddess/Devi (1960)
The Goddess/Devi
Ray often turned his camera on the dilemmas of women and their position in society.
Here his hallucinatory design illustrates a pivotal scene in his 19th-Century period study of religious superstition, when an elderly man dreams his daughter-in-law is the embodiment of the Hindu Goddess Kali. Here his use of light and shade in his division of the young girl's face references her split identity. Meanwhile the film's intricate and dramatic logo has been said to resemble the arch of a temple or a crown, but also recalls the candelabra used to worship her in the film, the spikes reminiscent of flames.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata


Charulata (1964)
Charulata
Ray's command of portraiture can be observed everywhere, from the faces of characters he sketched for children's stories to his charming depictions of directors he met or admired such as John Ford and Akira Kurosawa. Here his fragile, minimal brushstrokes bring alive the longing of the film's lonely housewife for her husband's cousin. The ornate style of the title's calligraphy Ray borrowed from his hero, the poet and author Rabindranath Tagore whose short story the film was based on.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata


The Holy Man/Mahapurush (1965)
The Holy Man/Mahapurush
This rather surreal creation showcases Ray's unusual treatment of photography at a time when most Indian film posters were hand-painted (photographic images only took over Bollywood designs from the mid 80s). Perhaps influenced by the contemporary photomontages of Pop art, such floating, cut-out heads are a recurring motif in Ray's designs and here introduce a light, comical note that hints at the film's satirical tone.
© BFI National Archive


Days and Nights in the Forest/Aranyer Din Ratri (1970)
Days and Nights in the Forest/Aranyer Din Ratri
In this mysterious, nocturnal scene, Ray shows the film's true protagonist: the forest which transforms the four rich and arrogant Calcutta bachelors that stay there during a weekend road trip in Ray's still-timely fable about India's urban/rural divide. The monochrome tree silhouettes are not only rather lyrical, but echo the delirious manner in which Ray captures the forest with his camera.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata


The Adversary/Pratidwandi (1970)
The Adversary/Pratidwandi
Ray was often accused of ignoring politics. The Adversary set amidst the upheaval and violence of 1970s Calcutta, then in the grip of Naxalite radicalism was his retort. He draws attention to this with the hand-drawn figure of a gunman at the centre of the film's fractured title in his poster design. Ray would often design a number of different posters for each film. One intrepid version for The Adversary sees Ray experimenting further with the logo, splintering it as a bullet would, and daringly pitting the action and characters against a bright pink backdrop.
© BFI National Archive

The Golden Fortress/Sonar Kella (1975)
The Golden Fortress/Sonar Kella
In addition to his beautiful wood-cut illustrations for children's stories, Ray also wrote and sketched his own detective and sci-fi tales. This adaptation of one of his own novels is told through the eyes of a six-year-old boy and continuing a trend he started with his Pather Panchali poster, Ray made sure that the loud, playful lettering and drawings on the poster could have been his character's creations.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata

4455

The Enemy of the People/Ganashatru (1989)
The Enemy of the People/Ganashatru
Ray returns to the clash between religion and science in his penultimate film. The fingers pointing at the doctor protagonist in the middle of Ray's design symbolise the crowds of people and big businesses who denounce the doctor as a heretic after he discovers that the 'holy water' of the temple is in fact polluted and killing unaware and uneducated local people. Based on an Ibsen play of the same name, the film had to be shot in studios due to the director's deteriorating health. The arresting and potent image Ray concocted for the film's poster though showed no such limitations.
© Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives and Ray Estate, Kolkata

 

Academy screens Apu Trilogy

The Los Angeles-based Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the hallowed institution that conferred the Oscar on Satyajit Ray for his lifetime achievement as a film-maker, will screen the Apu Trilogy on 6 and 9 September 2013. The screenings with new prints preserved at the Academy Film Archive will take place at Samuel Goldwyn Theatre at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Smt Sharmila Tagore will be present as special guest.

Friday, September 6 at 7 p.m. Double Feature
PATHER PANCHALI (SONG OF THE LITTLE ROAD)

A poetic and intense portrait of an impoverished Brahmin family living in rural Bengal, the film focuses on their young son Apu as he apprehends the beauty and cruelty of the world around him. 1955. 115 minutes.

APARAJITO (THE UNVANQUISHED)
"Aparajito" continues the story of the Bengali family after they have left for the holy city of Benares on the banks of the Ganges. Throughout the film, Apu gains more life experience. He trains for the priesthood - the traditional family vocation - but in the end, leaves his mother to study in Calcutta, where he finds a new life in "modern India." 1956. 113 minutes.

Monday, September 9 at 7:30 p.m.
APUR SANSAR (THE WORLD OF APU)

The concluding part of the trilogy deals with Apu's manhood. Ultimately a love story, the film describes Apu's serendipitous marriage, the birth of his son, the tragic disillusionment he faces and his eventual regeneration through the love of his son. 1959. 106 minutes.

 

BFI organises Ray retrospective   Watch all videos
 

 

Mahanagar releases as Criterion collections

  Charulata releases as Criterion collections

Mahanagar (The Big City) and Charulata
released by Criterion Collection

 

 

Ray festival at Sirifort, Delhi

Ray Retrospective Invitation Card

As part of the celebrations of the 100 years of Indian cinema, the Directorate of Film Festivals and Satyajit Ray Society worked in association with Lightcube Film Society to organize screenings of a season of films by Satyajit Ray at Delhi's Sirifort complex from 26 to 28 April, 2013. The festival also featured a weeklong exhibition of the director's artworks which included ad-layouts, book jacket designs, posters, booklets, set and costume designs, sketches from shooting scripts as also still photographs of people and places.

The Retrospective ran both Satyajit Ray's feature films and his shorts and documentaries. Taking off with Shyam Benegal's 1984 documentary on the great director, The Retrospective included such early and mid-period classics by Ray as Pather Panchali, Charulata, Jalsaghar and Pratidwandi as also documentaries and shorts like Rabindranath Tagore, Sadgati and Pikoo. The Retrospective concluded with Ghare Baire. The screenings were accompanied by panel discussions and interactive sessions with audiences where Dhritiman Chaterji, one of Ray's favourite actors who played the lead role in Pratidwandi, participated, among others.

Notes to the Audience


Suanshu Khurana : Fri Apr 26 2013 : Courtesy The Indian Express


Satyajit Ray's artistry was not restricted to the camera alone, it flowed into prop detailing and an Indian sensibility that he brought to book covers. An exhibition celebrates the multifaceted social aesthete.

Actor Kamu Mukherjee as Arjun in Satyajit Ray's Joi Baba Felunath has a wickedly funny knife-throwing scene, which is one of the more remembered scenes from the filmmaker's oeuvre. But what also captivates attention is the intricately designed "knife thrower's board" against which Jatayu stands, as Arjun throws 10 knives at him. The board, the only prop in the five-minute scene, has a huge Ravana-like figurine standing with its tongue out, was drawn by Ray himself. As was the set design for General Outram's study for Shatranj Ke Khiladi, and a sketch of Dayamoyee played by Sharmila Tagore in Devi (1960) besides numerous posters for all his films and a host of book jackets and costume designs. "It is known that Ray was a filmmaker par excellence and that cinema was his main passion, but Ray was such an extraordinary man. He did so many things and not many people know of it. The exhibition is an effort to tell people about other facets of Ray," says Arup De, CEO of Satyajit Ray Society, which is presenting the prints of these drawings at Delhi's Siri Fort Auditorium as a part of the 100 Years of Cinema Festival.

There is a poster for Ray's cinematic masterpiece, Pather Panchali. Another for Aparajito, finds a place in the show apart from Charulata (1964) and Nayak (1966). With fish and sun motifs beside a picture of Apu and his mother in the Pather Panchali poster and straight simple brush strokes creating a woman's face for Charulata, Ray displays his training as a graphic artist. The filmmaker had trained in Shantiniketan under Nandlal Bose and BB Mukherjee, who inspired him immensely.

From The Indian Express website

 

Ray exhibition in Mumbai

New Ray Book

‘An honour for me to be here among the thousands who adore Ray. Life’s biggest regret is that (I) never worked with him.’ Naseeruddin Shah wrote in the visitors’ book as he came, on the afternoon of 15 February 2013, to the inauguration of the long-awaited exhibition of the artworks and still photographs by Satyajit Ray held at Rabindra Natya Mandir in Mumbai.

The three-day show, which was the first ever Ray exhibition in Mumbai in the last thirty years, was organized by Satyajit Ray Society under the aegis of the Presidency College (Calcutta) Alumni Association.

The inauguration was a joint affair in which film personalities like Govind Nihalani, Naseeruddin Shah, Dhritiman Chaterji, Tinnu Anand and Sandip Ray lent a hand. Shyam Benegal, who calls Ray his ‘mentor’, came the next day as he had failed to turn up at the inauguration.

‘A rare glimpse into Satyajit Ray’s graphic work,’ wrote Govind Nihalani in the visitors’ book. “Brought back memories of my interactions with Ray. Enlightening and delightful!’

‘My heart is in this exhibition of the works of my Master,’ wrote Tinnu Anand. ‘My soul too belongs to him.’

Dhritiman Chaterji wrtote, ‘Wonderful to see so much effort go into this collection. (It is) happening in Mumbai after a long time. We, in the Ray Society, will support these endeavours whenever they are planned.’

 

Exhibition shows Ray's many talents and passions

Published: Sunday, Feb 17, 2013
By Pratik Ghosh | Place: Mumbai | Courtesy: DNA

In 1962, the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray made Kanchenjungha, his first colour film and first original screenplay. A meticulous planner, the homework Ray did before he embarked on the shooting was extensive.
At the inauguration of a three-day exhibition of Ray’s sketches, illustrations and prints in Mumbai, his son Sandip recounted an anecdote that shows just how remarkable and varied Satyajit Ray’s talents were. “He had made four aerial maps of Darjeeling, for the amount of light available for shooting: sunny, cloudy, cloudy-bright and misty,” recalled Sandip Ray, who is also a filmmaker. “In each map, the areas had been marked out, and on the far right of the sheet was the list of actors needed for the shots. Years later, when I showed the maps to Geological Survey of India, they were astounded by the precision.”
Celebrated as he is for his filmmaking, Ray’s artistic skills are less well-known even though it was as an illustrator and graphic artist that he began his career. After studying Oriental art as a student at Shantiniketan, a career in advertising at DJ Keymer followed and in this exhibition organized by Ray Society and Presidency College Alumni, Mumbai, are exhibits like layouts for Chelsea cigarettes and Jabakusum hair oil that suggest advertising lost one of its impressive creative talents when Ray chose filmmaking as his career.
At the inauguration on Friday, the panel of special guests comprising Naseeruddin Shah, Tinu Anand, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Sandip Ray made no secret of their admiration for Ray, who was a true Renaissance man. Shah voiced an anxiety that’s shared by many the archiving and preservation of Ray’s works. . “The fact that Sandip is working towards preserving them is reassuring,” said Shah. Among Shah’s dearest possessions is a letter from Ray, requesting him to do the commentary for a film. “I told him ‘I’d stand on my head if you want, to give it my best shot,’ said Shah. But the project didn’t work out. Maybe I came across too strongly,” he chuckled.

Ray continued honing his skills while making his films. There was Sandesh, the children’s magazine he inherited from his grandfather, in which his illustrations appeared. His short stories and novels, starring beloved characters of Bengali pop literature like the eccentric scientist Professor Shanku and Feluda, the ace detective, would include drawings by Ray.

 

New book by Satyajit Ray

New Ray Book




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Deep Focus: Reflections on Cinema, a collection of essays by Satyajit Ray, has turned out to be an exciting and long-awaited event in the world of publishing both in India and abroad, as it is the master director's second book on cinema in English, appearing as long as 35 years after the publication of his first one, Our Films Their Films (1976).
The book is published by the Delhi-based HarperCollins Publishers India in association with the Kolkata-based Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films, popularly known as Satyajit Ray Society or just Ray Society. The book is an outcome of an intensive search by the Society for long-lost articles by Ray, lying scattered in dailies, magazines, film bulletins and suchlike publications some of which have now gone extinct.
The book is edited by Ray's filmmaker son Sandip in association with Dhritiman Chaterji, Deepak Mukerjee, Arup K. De and Debasis Mukhopadhyay. Eminent film-maker Shyam Benegal has contributed a foreword to the book.
Benegal released the book in Kolkata at an event which took place on 28 January 2012 at the Satyajit Ray Auditorium of the Indian Council for Cultural Relation's Rabindranath Tagore Centre . He also gave a Ray Menorial Lecture, organized by Ray Society. The Society screened Benegal's two-hour documentary on Ray at the event.
The book contains 22 essays and talks --- long and short. The oldest of them was published in The Statesman, dating back to 1949. These essays have been divided into three sections: "The Film-maker's Craft", "Pen Portraits" and "Celebrating Cinema". The first section contains Ray's articles and talks on cinema, the second his views on such other great directors as Godard, Antonioni, Bergman, Chaplin as also on Uttam Kumar, the matinee idol of the Bengali screen who played the lead roles in his Nayak (The Hero) and Chiriakhana (The Zoo). The third section deals with Ray's experiences of, and views on, film festivals at home and overseas.
The book is rich with images like film and production stills, rare portraits of Ray, and a substantial number of sketches and photographs by the great director. In addition to the images in the main part, the book contains 24-page photo-inserts printed in art paper.
The publications the essays have been culled from include The Statesman, Anrita Bazar Patrika, Hindustan Standard, Link, Filmfare, Sight & Sound, Sunday and Mainstream.
The cover spread is designed by Pinaki De.





From Shyam Benegal's Foreword
Shyam Benegal



"The present collection of his essays have been chosen and compiled by his son Sandip Ray in association with others who include one of his favourite actors, Dhritiman Chaterji, with obvious care to see that his views come across with clarity and precision. Starting with an early essay that predates his filmmaking (1949) all the way to the last part of his career, Ray displays a remarkably consistent view of the cinema he favoured. His reflections and thoughts give us a wonderful insight into the nature of his aesthetics; the extraordinary ability he had of absorbing and internalizing folk and classical traditions both of the West and East to find a contemporary and modern voice.
"The longest essay in this collection is Under Western Eyes, which is also the most rewarding could well be his film Testament.
"The present collection of essays in Deep Focus serves as an excellent introduction to Satyajit Ray's thoughts on the Cinema. It also opens yet another window to a deeper appreciation of his films.
"A valuable addition to the not too many worthwhile books on Indian cinema."



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From Sandip Ray's Preface
Sandip Ray


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"It was some time ago that our Society decided to put together a book (or books) with those articles by my father which lay scattered in newspapers and magazines both at home and abroad. But we had no idea exactly how many of them existed. My father never made a meticulous effort to preserve his published writings.
"We had, however, a few articles in our archives. For others, we launched a search, a difficult one at that, as some of the dailies and periodicals where they had appeared were no longer extant. Our efforts ultimately yielded a number of essays and talks, long and short, which seemed good enough material for a full-fledged book. The search for more is still on."

 

Deep Focus: What they say

”It is a long time - 1976, to be precise - since Satyajit Ray published his first collection of articles, Our Films, Their Films...Now, at last, we have it. Deep Focus contains Under Western Eyes and 21 other previously published pieces by Ray, under the editorship of his son Sandip Ray, with a foreword by Shyam Benegal, garnished throughout with stills from Ray’s films, film posters created by Ray and witty caricatures from his pen, and some unfamiliar photos of Ray at work by the documentary film-maker B.D. Garga, plus a few striking photos by Ray himself.” - Andrew Robinson in Outlook

Deep Focus would prove to be a prominent source of reference for all those who love cinema and wish to acquaint themselves with Ray’s vision on different themes, in a different timeframe. If the respective countries (France,Japan and Italy) could be proud on Jean Renior, Akira Kurosowa and Vittorio De Sica, India too could nominate some of the most epoch making cinema makers from her land. But in any case, Ray would be the ranked first and his works would serve to know about India in making and complete totality.” - Atul Kumar Thakur in Businessworld

”The book (Deep Focus)...has a detailed foreword by Shyam Benegal who was very close to Ray and shot a two-hour documentary on the legendary filmmaker. Benegal says, ’I felt honoured when I was requested by Harper Collins to write a foreword for the book. The articles are priceless and provide valuable lessons to us and countless others involved in the art of filmmaking’.” - Ranjan Dasgupta in The Hindu

Deep Focus, a book by Satyajit Ray, is a collection of rare articles penned by the internationally acclaimed filmmaker on Charlie Chaplin, Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean Luc Goddard and Bengal’s matinee idol Uttam Kumar, along with writings on the film festivals he attended.” - The Hindustan Times

”Sandip Ray has recently accomplished a tough task - he’s managed to bring out the second book (Deep Focus: Reflections on Cinema) of original writings by his father, Oscar Award winner Satyajit Ray. ’Deep Focus has writings by my father from 1949. We, at Ray Society, got in touch with a lot of Ray collectors in and around Kolkata, who willingly helped us with whatever writings they had. The book is quite a substantial collection of essays on Charlie Chaplin, Godard, Uttam Kumar, various international film festivals that he attended with his films as well as a jury member - in short, Deep Focus is his personal cinematic experience’.” - Dipankar Ghosh Biswas in DNA

”You get a sense of who he was, this tall, austere, distinguished Bengali Renaissance Man, from his writings and some of its famous luminaries. ...Deep Focus: Refections on Cinema is only the second volume of his writings. ...And it is a delight, because you can dip into it for the forthrightness (some would call it arrogance) of Ray’s views on the world and movies.” - Shubhra Gupta in The Indian Express

”In all, a brilliant read. No wonder, Ray was to become the most authoritative voice Indian cinema has known.” - Derek Bose in The Pioneer

”After thirty-five years, an original collection on cinema by Ray, with photographs.” - The Financial Express

”The essays, in a way, still reflect cinema as it is. Nothing changes except the master has gone - irreplaceable in his cinema and writing.” - Khalid Mohamed in The Asian Age

”Scattered in dailies, magazines and other publications, some of which are now extinct, some long-lost articles by Satyajit Ray have been compiled in book form. Rich with images, Deep Focus: Reflections on Cinema, reveals his views on names like Charlie Chaplin, Michelangelo and Bengal’s matinee idol Uttam Kumar.” - The Sunday Guardian

”And should you belong to the cult of Satyajit Ray, you want to get hold of Deep Focus: Refections on Cinema, which has been edited by his son Sandip Ray, in association with others. Ray was a great writer, a fluent, fluid writer, and that’s always a reason to read someone. And he was a genius in his field of endeavour, a second good reason.” - Man’s World

Our Films, Their Films was released in 1976. ...Deep Focus contains 22 essays and talks ~ some long, some very brief ~ focusing on Ray’s views on other film-makers; his experiences at film festivals he competed in and attended as a jury member; what he thought of the art and craft of cinema and a discussion on adapting literary works to the big screen. The oldest article, dating back to 1949, well before Ray became a film-maker himself, is called ”National Styles in Cinema” and was published in The Statesman on 14 August 1949.” - Somdatta Mandal in The Statesman

 

A legacy revisited

The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films, a non-profit organisation better known as Satyajit Ray Society or just Ray Society, organised a weeklong (May 3 and May 5 - 10, 2009) Satyajit Ray Festival, ‘Ray Today: A Legacy Revisited’ at Kolkata’s Birla Academy of Art & Culture and Star, one of the best known city theatres, to mark the 88th birth anniversary of the man who became a legend in his own lifetime.

The Festival, featuring music from his films, plays based on his stories, films by him, a debate on his heritage, and a quiz contest on his life and work, was held at the grounds and the auditorium of the Birla Academy as well as at the Star Theatre. The Society also brought out a brochure containing contributions by Ray and others who had an opportunity to observe and work with him.

Why this festival?
It may not be unlikely for people to ask why the Society decided to organise a Satyajit Ray Festival after all.

The reasons are not far to seek. As stated, restoration and preservation of the priceless Ray legacies is an avowed objective of the Society. Another object is the dissemination of the maestro’s work. The festival was an exercise in dissemination.

But there was yet another reason. The Society had for some time looking for ways of setting up a Satyajit Ray Heritage Centre in or around the hometown of the master director. Lack of funds was a roadblock. So the Society resolved they should hold a festival on a large scale which would serve the twin purposes of dissemination and fundraising. The idea was to raise the seed money required to start the construction of the Heritage Centre. Perhaps now the time has come to say that the Society is on the threshold of turning their vision into a reality. 

Ray exhibition
Ray was not merely a filmmaker. Apart from having a complete mastery over all areas of filmmaking, Ray was an author, essayist, editor of a magazine for children, lyricist, music composer, typographer and artist. And the last but not the least, he was also a consummate photographer whose output of still photographs was as large and impressive as it was rich in its variety. As part of the festival, the Society, in association with the Birla Academy, presented, for the first time ever in the world, a large exhibition of Ray’s artworks and photographs, which form a significant part of the Society’s archive. The exhibition was inaugurated by renowned painter Jogen Choudhury at one of the galleries of the Birla Academy on May 3, in the presence of such film luminaries as Mrinal Sen, Javed Akhtar, Dhritiman Chaterji, Sandip Ray, Haradhan Bannerjee, Dipankar De, Pradip Mukherjee, Barun Chanda and others.



Ray memorial lecture
The opening of the exhibition was followed by another ceremony on the Birla Academy grounds where D. N. Ghose, president of the Society, announced that a small part of the Festival proceeds would go to fund the Society’s ongoing work of the restoration and preservation of the priceless Ray legacies and the rest was to be used to begin the construction of the Satyajit Ray Heritage Centre. The representatives of the organisation that had sponsored the festival inauguration were felicitated. Javed Akhtar, poet, lyricist and screenplay writer, then delivered his scintillating Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture and took questions from the audience. Dhritiman Chaterji was the Master of Ceremony.

Quiz contest
A two-part quiz contest was held at the auditorium of the Birla Academy on the evening of May 5. The first part featured a quiz contest on Ray’s life and work, while the second was on Feluda, the super-sleuth Ray immortalised in his fiction and films. Students from schools, colleges and universities situated in Kolkata and other parts of Bengal participated. The quiz contest was conducted by Somenath Roy.

Debate
A debate on the motion, ‘Bengali cinema has forgotten the heritage of Satyajit Ray’, was held at the Birla Academy auditorium on the evening of May 6. It was moderated by Dhritiman Chaterji. Well known authors, filmmakers, actors, journalists, and TV personalities such as Saibal Mitra, Tilottama Majumdar, Sangeeta Banerjee, Anindyo Chatterjee, Sudipta Chakraborty, Rajat Roychoudhury, Bidipta Chakraborty and Ujjal Chakraborty attended the debate as speakers.

Plays



Three plays based on Ray stories (Anukul, Apsara Theatre-er Maamla and Bonku Babur Bondhu), were staged at Star theatre by three leading drama groups of Kolkata, Theatre Passion, Charbak and Swapnasandhani, on May 8 - 10.

Films and music



The Society chose to screen three documentaries and a short film by Ray, namely Rabindranath Tagore, The Inner Eye, Sukumar Ray and Two, at the Birla Academy auditorium on May 7. The same evening, the Satyajit Ray Festival shifted to the Star Theatre with an enthralling musical performance by Bhoomi, a popular Bangla Band.

There were yet other musical programmes. The Aul Baul orchestra played Ray music on May 9, while the following morning Chandrabindoo, another popular Bangla Band, entertained the audience with their performance as a closing treat. Madhabi Mukherjee, the actress who played the lead female roles in three major Ray classics, and Bibhas Chakraborty, a leading stage director and actor, were present as chief guest on May 8 and May 10, respectively. O.P. Bhatt, chairman of the State Bank of India who was present as special guest on May 8, paid a glowing tribute to Ray and acclaimed the Society’s long and patient efforts in restoring and preserving the Ray legacies.

Festival sponsors 

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Ray Festivals in Europe

By Arup K. De 
Reproduced from The Statesman, October 2006

Though contemporary India displays a curious indifference to Satyajit Ray and his works, the remaining world, the western hemisphere in particular, presents a lesson in contrast. It may be coincidental that as many as three European countries had decided to celebrate Ray hard on the heels of one another, but that sure shows their enduring fascination for one of the greatest masters of world cinema.


In June 2006, it was in the Portuguese town of Setubal. In October, it was in Valladolid, a city 180 miles from the Spanish capital of Madrid. The following month, it was in Nantes, a French town not too far from Cannes, where Ray’s trailblazing Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) picked up the Best Human Document Award way back in 1956. The countries, which held and continue to hold Ray events on a moderate to large scale, may have some cultural affinity because of their shared European lineage and geographical proximity, but they hardly know Bengal, Ray’s home province where his films are rooted, and Bengali, the language he spoke and made his films in. Yet they recall not only Ray’s contributions to filmmaking by screening his films at well organised festivals but chose to present him in all his versatile splendour. This bears eloquent testimony to the fact that the appeal of Ray’s cinema and other creative works is on the rise rather than decline in the world at large, and that the tribe of his admirers overseas is growing. 

Portugal 
Portugal kicked off the present wave of the unlinked Ray celebrations in Europe by screening five of his films at Festroia (Festival International de Cinema), held from June 2 to 11 in Setubal. The Ray Retrospective at the festival included Mahanagar (The Big City), Charulata (The Lonely Wife), Kapurush O Mahapurush (The Coward and the Holy Man), Nayak (The Hero) and Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God). On top of this, the festival panel conferred on Ray the posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award, Golden Dolphin, which was received by Sandip, his filmmaker son who was present there as a jury member along with wife Lolita.

Spain 
Spain was the next to pay the maestro its tribute. It held an exhibition and a film festival in October to mark the formal inauguration of the headquarters of Casa de la India (India House) in Valladolid. The exhibition, opened jointly by Sandip Ray and others, continued till end December at its present place. The show had on display a large number of Ray portraits by Hirak Sen (who was present) and Tarapada Banerjee, stills from films, and photographic reproductions of sketches, costumes and set designs, posters, booklets, music notations, book covers, illustrations, and pages from his scripts and scrapbooks. But perhaps the best attractions at the show were some clothes used by Ray... a kurta, a pair of pajamas and a shawl. A sari, worn by actresses Madhabi Mukherjee and Swatilekha Sengupta during the shooting of Charulata and Ghare Baire (The Home and the World), respectively, too forms part of the exhibits. The bulk of the exhibits were loaned to Casa de la India by the Kolkata based ‘The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films’, better known as the Satyajit Ray Society, which has been engaged since 1994 in the restoration and preservation of the priceless legacies, both on celluloid and on paper, that Ray left to the world when he passed away in 1992. The Satyajit Ray Society is the only organisation in the world which preserves all the Ray legacies, excluding the majority of the film prints which belong to producers, in the original. The rest came from the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection, UCSC. The exhibition and film festival authorities brought out two exquisitely produced souvenirs on Ray on the occasion.



France 
France has been especially known for her love of Ray. It was at the French request that Ray donated his original treatment of Pather Panchali containing sketches and jottings to the Cinematheque in Paris. Ray had never done a fully developed screenplay for the film; he had everything that was not there in the treatment in his head. France had on November 21 to 29, her first ever complete Retrospective of Ray films. This is remarkable news, because India has never had a complete Ray Retrospective to date. 

“Ray’s films, like Jalsaghar for example, are regularly shown in France, mainly on television. It's much more rare in movie theaters. Some of them have been released on DVD. But his work is not very well known,” said Alain Jalladeau, director of the Festival of 3 Continents. “Here people have heard of ten films at the most. Considering that Ray did 36 movies and that he is one of the few great masters in the history of cinema, those ten are not enough. That's the reason why we have decided to propose this complete Retrospective of Ray's work. This is the first time in France that a complete Retrospective is gathered. Just after Ray's death, the French Cinematheque had a tribute to him, but could not show all his films.”



‘Symbol of modern India’ 
Why was Satyajit Ray picked up in particular for the events to open the headquarters of Casa de la India? “Many reasons,” said Cristina Carrilo de Albornoz Fisac, exhibition curator. “First of all, we were moved by his deep humanism and simple and austere way of life. He represented the Renaissance tradition in India and was himself one of the geniuses that life offers from time to time. He was the first film director to create a style of cinema showing the soul of India, and he touchingly mixed the real and the poetic in his films. He was also the symbol of the modern India initiating a dialogue between the East and the West. We wanted to project the many-faceted genius that Ray was, and so we had the exhibition along with the Retrospective.”

The 51st Valladolid International Film Festival, which opened on October 20, featured a Retrospective of seven Ray classics, which, according to the festival coordinator, were shown for the first time in Spain. The Retrospective was inaugurated on October 22 with a screening of Jalsaghar (The Music Room) to a packed house. Sandip Ray presented the film to the audience comprising people of all age groups. It was followed on the next few days by Parash Pathar, (The Philosopher’s Stone), Abhijan (The Expedition), Nayak (The Hero), Agantuk (The Stranger), Rabindranath Tagore and Sadgati (The Deliverance).



Since 1979, the purpose of the Festival of the 3 Continents has been to discover and show films from Africa, Latin America and Asia. In 1980, a Ray tribute was a major event. Tributes to other Indian filmmakers like Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor were also organised. According to Alain, Satyajit Ray is very well appreciated by the intelligentsia in France. “His name is very well known to intellectuals as well as cine buffs. Of course, older people, the ones who have seen his movies in the sixties and seventies in the then existing cine clubs know him better. But, when showing films such as Pratidwandi (The Adversary) or Mahanagar to younger audiences, we've been impressed by their enthusiasm. They knew Ray's name, but not his films, and they were far from being disappointed,” he said.

Alain’s love affair with Ray movies began when he saw Pather Panchali, which changed the face of the Indian cinema and drew the world’s attention to her. “I have known and loved his films since Pather Panchali,” said Alain. I met him personally for the first and second time in 1980 in April in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and in November in Nantes, where he came to present Seemabaddha (Company Limited). Then, in 1982, I came back to Calcutta with the French critic Serge Daney, who wanted to have with him an extensive interview for the daily newspaper Liberation. We mostly had conversations about movies and books and music. He was for example always very eager to hear about European or American films he could not see in Bengal.”

'One of the greatests’
Alain’s opinion of Ray and his films is an indication of what the West thinks of India’s cultural ambassador, who, after Rabindranath, built a fresh bridge of East-West understanding. “As a filmmaker, Satyajit Ray simply was and still is one of the greatest of the history of cinema, and I don't mean only in India,” said Alain. “He was always an affable man, a little distant. Of course you would be respectful to him. While chatting with him you became aware how much mixed his culture was, part Bengali but also part English. In this respect, he was very different from pure Bengali directors like Ritwik Ghatak.”

France waited for a complete Ray Retrospective for a long time, and the Festival of 3 Continents took 15 years to plan it. “We thought of this complete Retrospective for 15 years, and we're very proud and happy to pay this kind of tribute to such a great filmmaker,” said Alain.

 

Art of Ray: A Ray Society Exhibition




The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films, better known as Satyajit Ray Society or just Ray Society, presented the first-ever exhibition of the artworks of Satyajit Ray at the North Gallery of Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, from January 19 to 25, 2008. The show, which pulled a large number of art lovers as also vast crowds of ordinary Ray admirers, offered rare insights into the legendary filmmaker’s fascinating world of art.

The weeklong exhibition opened on the afternoon of January 19, with Sri Gopal Krishna Gandhi, then Governor of West Bengal, inaugurating the grand show by lighting a ceremonial lamp placed in front of a large black-and-white photograph of the great master. Madhabi Chakraborty (nee Mukhopadhyay), who had played lead female roles in three unforgettable Ray classics including Charulata, and Soumitra Chattopadhyay, who had the privilege of being Ray’s chosen hero in many films, were present as special guests. 



Also present at the inauguration ceremony were, among others, D.N. Ghosh, the Society President, Sandip Ray, Ray’s filmmaker son and the Society Member-Secretary, and a number of actors and actresses like Subir Banerjee (who played Apu in Pather Panchali) and Mamata Shankar (who played important roles in the last three Ray films).

In his welcome address, D.N. Ghosh outlined the Society’s activities and future plans. Sandip Ray spoke on the scheme followed in choosing the exhibits from among a huge number of artworks preserved after restoration at the Society archive. Soumitra Chattopadhyay reminisced about his long association, spanning over three decades, with Ray. In his speech, the Governor made a sensitive and insightful appreciation of the legend that Ray was.

The Society brought out a special brochure, released at the inauguration ceremony by Madhabi Chakraborty, to mark the occasion. The cover design of the brochure was based on a well-known Signet Press book jacket that Ray had designed in the 1950s. The cover types were set in Holiday Script, one of the four English typefaces he had created.

The inauguration ceremony was followed by the screening of Two, a short film Ray made in 1964 at the request of the US Public Television Service, which produced it under the banner of Esso World Theatre.