The Master and His Actor

Amitava Nag

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture 2015 by Soumitra Chatterjee: Image-1
Pix: Mala Mukerjee

May 2, 2015 - Fifty-six years after the release of Apur Sansar to mark that iconic event and to celebrate the 94thbirth anniversary of Satyajit Ray (born on 2ndMay 1921), Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives organized a lecture session by Soumitra - "The Master and I" at Satyajit Ray Auditorium, Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, Kolkata. For the last few years the Ray Memorial Lecture on the occasion of Ray's birthday had been an event which drew crowd to the fullest. We had the privilege to listen to the likes of Javed Akhtar, Shyam Benegal and Naseeruddin Shah. This is the first time a person who was an integral part of the Ray team would pay homage to the master and also delivering the lecture in Bengali.

The evening started off with the inauguration by Chatterjee of a seven-day exhibition of photographs that depict the Ray-Chatterjee association. The exhibition is excellent - a mixture of posters and candid pictures taken by a host of photographers over a period of time and both during shooting or in private moments. This was followed by a book launch - Probondho Samogro, a collection of essays in Bengali by Satyajit Ray brought out by Ananda Publishers in association with the Society.

Soumitra Chatterjee himself is a legend in his own right - a playwright, an elocutionist, a theatre actor and director, a poet and the editor of one of the finest literary magazines of Bengal - Ekkhan. It is not surprising hence that Soumitra's delivery will be ornate, literary and yet touching the deeper soul with such magnificence that the audience will be left numb and emotional. Ray-Soumitra association is unparalleled in Indian cinema finding some semblance in World cinema in Kurosawa-Mifune and Bergman-Max Von Sydow. It is hence a bit strange that Soumitra had to wait for the Ray Memorial Lecture this long.

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture 2015 by Soumitra Chatterjee: Image-2
Pix: Mala Mukerjee

Soumitra narrowed his focus on Ray's handling of actors - how awe-inspiring it was to find that he would probably never cast someone who doesn’t seem fit for the role apart from a very few deviations. To elaborate, Chatterjee reminisced how he longed for the role of Goopi in Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne and insisted that he would do the job well if given a chance. Satyajit seemed not convinced that Soumitra's aristocratic looks can be fully transformed to a village urchin in Goopi with make-up and finally ended the conversation saying - "Your profile is not matching with the mental image I have'. We all know now that Tapen Chatterjee as Goopi reached such unsurmountable heights that is difficult to achieve for any great actor as well including Soumitra.

On a lighter note Soumitra recalled that he was the first choice for Ashoke (later played by Arun Mukherjee) in Ray's first colour film Kanchenjungha (1962) but couldn’t do so due to date problems. Later Ray commented that it was better that a complete newcomer played the role instead of Soumitra (who was already an established hero of the mainstream romantic films by then) since otherwise the open ending of the film wouldn’t have been justified to the audience who would naturally deduce a romantic bonding between the character and the heroine. Soumitra muses that at least in this case Ray’s original choice would have been a mistake!

What marks Chatterjee’s lecture is not the anecdotes from his own acting or his association in several Ray films and in general for over three decades working together. He confessed that the relation was a personal one and even when he was not acting in a Ray film he would always be invited by Ray to hear and discuss the script. What marks the speech more is Soumitra's reflections of the handling of Ray of his actors. As he mentioned, Ray had no unique and single technique. He had worked with professional actors, non-actors and even stars bigger than anyone else. Ray’s treatment had been eclectic to bring the best in every one of them. Even with the child artists of his several films his capability of mixing with them at their level helped him to bring out the best in them at a time when acting of most of the child artists in Bengali cinema seemed absurdly ridiculous.

Soumitra rekindled the lecture with special reference of Gobinda Chakraborty who played Dinabanadhu in Ashani Sanket – the old Brahmin who would come from a nearby village to Gangacharan’s (played by Soumitra) house in search of food and shelter. Soumitra described in vivid details how Gobinda Chakraborty articulated his transformation from an innocent old person thoroughly confused with the effects of a man-made famine to one who has to turn sly in order to survive for him and his family. Gobinda Chakraborty had also played small yet important roles in Hirak Rajar Deshe, Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne and Teen Kanya.

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture 2015 by Soumitra Chatterjee: Image-3
Pix: Mala Mukerjee

Soumitra also mentioned Nani Ganguly who played Scarface Jodu in Ashani Sanket and the village bum Lakha in Aranyer Din Ratri and Khairatilal Lahori as the care-taker of the forest bungalow in Aranyer Din Ratri who was actually a professional actor. It was Ray's insightful eyes that could bring out the person best suited for the roles - irrespective of their status as actor or not. In mentioning in details about these lesser known actors in lieu of the bigger names we always seem to discuss and debate, Soumitra paid them a tribute and in style, offered his homage to his mentor.

The evening ended with a henceforth-unseen interview clip of Ray taken during the screening of Shatranj Ki Khilari in London by the British Press. Any interview of Ray mesmerizes us with his clarity, confidence and subtle nuanced references of things already known but somehow overlooked in the melee. As we come out of the auditorium on an otherwise hot and humid day there are drops of rain - not even a drizzle. Soumitra Chatterjee – Ray's hero comes out and rides his car and vanishes from the scene - a scene which was as much curated by Ray as was by him.*

*The author is an independent film scholar and critic who edits Silhouette Magazine


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.


Click to read Naseeruddin Shah's lecture


What they say

"Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar, edited by Sandip Ray, is a wonderfully spirit-lifting facsimile edition of a storyboard Ray had sketched, possibly in the early fifties, for a film he wanted to make of an entire sitar recital by Ravi Shankar. This never happened, yet it is a spirit-lifting book, even if it represents an unrealized project (nobody quite knows why the film never got made), because it shows how Ray and Ravi Shankar intuitively understood and responded to the peculiar brilliance and lightness of each other's genius. . . .This is indispensable reading for anybody interested, not only in Ray's cinema or Ravi Shankar’s musicianship, but, more generally, in the different ways in which musical and cinematic narratives might grow out of control and inspire each other." - Aveek Sen, The Telegraph

Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar
Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar

"Did you know that Satyajit Ray conceived of and even began writing a visual script entitled A Sitar Recital by Ravi Shankar? If you did not you would soon be privy to a beautifully designed title called Satyajit Ray’s Ravi Shankar published by Collins and edited by Sandip Ray. . . . The 32-page drawing book, printed in this book, could be a godsend as a tutorial for the students of cinema, for evolving filmmakers and for the film studies students and scholars. It was dug out of the archives of the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives, which has collaborated with Collins in the editing, compilation and publication of the book. . . .Though Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar is enriched with 10 articles from the archives, it is the visual script that invests it with the unique quality of featuring an unfinished work by one great master on another great master as the subject of his film. Since neither of them is alive, this is a priceless gem." - Shoma A Chatterji, The Statesman

"The book under discussion particularly unfolds the incredible story of a film that was never made to see the light of the day. . . . Truly an invaluable piece that ought to find a place in any astute cineaste's bookshelf, this one is undoubtedly a library-owner's pride. Most deservedly carrying forward his father’s rich legacy of decades through his own repertoire of well-acclaimed films and as the member-secretary of the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives (formerly Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films), the devoted son Sandip Ray has rightly forwarded the book on a personal note." - Pramita Bose, The Asian Age

"In the late 1950's, Ray decided to shoot a full-length documentary on Ravi Shankar. He prepared the script with the required sketches in his inimitable way. Ray for the first time used water colours for his drawings in the script of this documentary. Sadly, the documentary never went on floors. HarperCollins India, in association with Satyajit Ray Society, is publishing this script in book form, Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar. The original script and storyboard are intact making Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar a delight for readers of all ages." - Ranjan Dasgupta, The Hindu

"Satyajit Ray's Ravi Shankar, edited by Sandip Ray, reflects upon the relationship between the master director and the legendary music composer who worked together for the Apu Trilogy. . . .The book contains the visual plan for A Sitar Recital by Ravi Shankar, the documentary on Pandit Ravi Shankar that got never made. As the recital begins, the dark screen lights up to reveal Ravi Shankar playing the sitar. The camera then zooms in to show the artiste performing, with emphasis laid on the fast hand movements. There is also constant juxtaposition with images of trees, storms and trees. . . . The book, apart from highlighting how the relationship Ray and Shankar may have come into conflict between their interest in films, is filled with anecdotes and instances of Ray's passion for film making and his ability to experiment." - Nevin Thomas, Midday Mumbai


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

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)
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


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

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" 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.

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 an