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Feluda exhibition before Satyajit Ray birth anniversary

Kolkata, Apr 30 An exhibition on Satyajit Ray's iconic sleuth Feluda was inaugurated today, ahead of the maestro's 91st birth anniversary on May 2.

Ninety-five exhibits, which included photos from Ray's famous 'Kheror Khata' (doodles and random rough illustrations of films and stories), are on display at the exhibition.

Besides, shooting schedules of the film 'Sonar Kella', manuscripts and illustration of other Feluda books like 'Bosepukure Khunkharapi', 'Darjeeling Jamjamat', 'Apsara Theatrer Mamla' and 'Gangtoke Gandogol' are being exhibited. "We have managed to put up less than 30 per cent of Baba's voluminous works," Ray's director son Sandip told PTI.

Sandip said the 95 exhibits were chosen to portray the multifaceted personality of his father, who was a writer, illustrator and novelist besides being a film maker.

 

"We would definitely like to put them for permanent display if given a proper venue. We are looking for one such place," Sandip said to a question.

The inauguration was attended by several actors who worked in Ray's and Sandip's movies.

'Sonar Kella' actor Kushal Chakraborty, who immortalised the child character of 'Mukul' said, "I am seeing this shooting schedule doodle for the first time as I was only a six-year-old boy when the film was made in 1974." Recalling his first shooting experience, Kushal said, "I remember he did not scold me and I did not realise how he got the job done. I know I was pampered on set."

Sandip Ray's Feluda actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty said, "This could be the most fitting tribute to the film director, whose birthday falls on May 2. The sleuth Feluda also turned 50 this year."

'The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives' organised the exhibition which will continue till May 4.

Reproduced gratefully to Outlook, http://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/feluda-exhibition-before-satyajit-ray-birth-anniversary/1039623

 

Actress Aparna Sen delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at ICCR in Kolkata on April 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy : IANS)

Kolkata: Actress Aparna Sen addressed during Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture in Kolkata on April 29, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

Kolkata, April 30 : Auteur Satyajit Ray was not “apolitical” and portrayed it in his films, says actress-filmmaker Aparna Sen.

 

“Many of Ray’s critics have called him indifferent to the plight of the urban poor and criticised him for being apolitical. Ray wasn’t apolitical at all. No man or woman is. It’s just that Ray’s politics was not the politics of political parties that were constantly at each other’s throat,” Aparna said here on Saturday.

Not many people know that the Oscar-winning filmmaker had been at the forefront of the city-wide silent protest against police brutality in 1966, Aparna highlighted while delivering the Ray Memorial Lecture organised by Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives.

 

Aparna, who made her debut as an actress in 1961 with Ray’s “Teen Kanya”, said the trauma of the food movement has been reflected in many of his films.

 

The Price Increase and Famine Resistance Committee was a mass movement in West Bengal, formed in late 1958 by the Communist Party of India and other Left groups, in response to the food crisis then.

 

To buttress her argument, Aparna referred to the scene in “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne” showing the “procession of starving soldiers with the song ‘O re baba dekho cheye’ playing in the background” and “the procession of starving villagers in ‘Ashani Sanket’ walking from village to city and growing constantly larger in size”.

 

Citing the example of the 1971 film “Pratidwandi” (The Adversary), set against the backdrop of the Naxalite movement, Aparna said there is a “genuine attempt” on Ray’s part to understand the plight of young people of that troubled time and to enquire the reasons for their anger and violence.

 

“The problem is despite his anger against the system, Siddharth (the lead character in ‘Pratidwandi’ whose younger brother is a Naxalite), like Ray himself, is able to look at the other side of any given situation. Ray like Siddharth is not quite sure what the solution is but sympathises deeply with the youths who have nowhere to turn to,” she said.

 

Aparna also delved into Ray’s finesse for portrayal of death in cinema.

 

"Satyajit Ray could be called the master of portrayal of death in cinema. The deaths of Indir Thakrun, Durga in ‘Pather Panchali’, Harihar and Sarbojaya in ‘Aparajito’, Bishwambar Roy in ‘Jalsaghar’ all bear this out,” she said.

 

Drawing attention to “Apur Sansar”, the third and final film of the much-feted Apu Trilogy, Aparna surmised the master filmmaker had deliberately refrained from showing Apu’s wife Aparna in her final moments.

 

“Aparna’s death is so unthinkable that it can’t be shown, only imagined. Nothing that the director can direct or actors can act or cinematographer can film will match the audience’s imagination of the magnitude of Apu’s loss.”

 

“I think Ray must have realised this either consciously or intuitively and refrained from actually showing Aparna in her death bed,” the actress said.

 

“There is no escape for us from Ray… the next generation of filmmakers. We have inherited him as Ray had inherited Tagore,” she added.

 

Gratefully reproduced from ASCinema, Entertainment, Showbiz April 30, 2017  Daily World /IANS

Satyajit Ray memorial lecture and Feluda exhibition

April-May 2017 at ICCR, Kolkata

Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives is all set to celebrate the 96th birth anniversary of the master director with a Ray Memorial Lecture and a five-day-long Feluda Exhibition & Sale at ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations), Kolkata. While Aparna Sen, renowned actor and film-maker, will deliver the memorial lecture at ICCR’s Satyajit Ray Auditorium on the evening of 29 April, the Feluda show will open at the Bengal Art Gallery of ICCR the following day and continue till 4 May. The lecture will be followed by a short film by or on Ray.

 

The inauguration of the show will be followed by a chat show at the auditorium. The speakers include celebrated actors who have acted in Feluda films – Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Dhritiman Chaterji, Paran Bandyopadhyay and Saheb Bhattachary.

The Ray memorial lecture Smt Aparna Sen is to give is the fifth one organized by the Society. Javed Akhtar gave the first lecture in 2009, followed by Shyam Benegal (in 2012) and Naseeruddin Shah (in 2014). Sri Soumitra Chattopadhyay delivered the next lecture on the eve of Ray’s 94th birth anniversary on 1 May 2015.

 

The Society has arranged quite a number of exhibitions of Ray’s artworks as also festivals of his films and discussions at home and abroad.  Some of the places where such shows and film retrospectives have taken place are Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Toronto, Valladolid (Spain) and London.

The ICCR exhibition will be the first one ever dedicated to Feluda, the super sleuth immortalized by Ray through his detective fiction. The show will have on display reproductions of pages from Ray’s literary manuscripts and the scripts for Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) and Joi Babu Felunath (The Elephant God), posters, sketches, illustrations, headpieces for stories and novels, book jackets, booklets, production stills showing Ray and son Sandip directing Feluda movies and such other things. The exhibits are on sale.

 

There are other things on sale such as Feluda books by Ray in English and Bengali, reproductions of booklets for the two Feluda movies by Ray, picture postcards, t-shirts, notebooks and so on.

Pather Panchali Sketchbook available in book form

Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives (Satyajit Ray Society, in brief), In collaboration with HarperCollins Publishers India, launched a facsimile edition of the historic Pather Panchali sketchbook (price: Rs 999/-) on the eve of Satyajit Ray’s 95th birth anniversary (1 May 2016) at the Satyajit Ray Auditorium, Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, Kolkata.

 

The book release was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Shantanu Raychoudhuri- Managing Editor of HarperCollins Publishers India, where some renowned actors discovered by Ray - Barun Chanda, Paromita Biswas, Dipankar De and Pradip Mukherjee being among them - reminisced about their association with the master director. The Society also screened Dialogue on Film, a documentary on Ray after the conversation is over. The film was shot sometime in the second half of the 1970’s at The American Film Institute in the USA.

 

Apart from the whole sketchbook which served as the visual scenario for Pather Panchali, the book, edited by Sandip Ray, includes pages from a draft scenario, reviews, recollections, posters, booklets (used and unused), advertisements, illustrations, movie and production stills, and quotes from a large number of film-makers, critics, authors and artists such as Salman Rushdie, M.F. Hussein, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch and Wes Anderson. Facsimiles of letters to Ray from Jean Renoir, Monroe Wheeler, J.B. Nicholson and Ray Bradbury and commemorative stamps are added attractions.

 

Entitled The Pather Panchali Sketchbook, the book also contains write-ups on Pather Panchali, hitherto unpublished in any book, by Satyajit Ray, Bijoya Ray, Subrata Mitra (cinematographer), Bansi Chandragupta (art director), Soumendu Roy (assistant cameraman), and Dulal Dutta (editor). Uma Dasgupta (Durga) and Subir Banerjee (Apu) have narrated their experiences of working with Ray for a film that changed the face of Indian cinema.

 

The book also has a special article on the screening of the newly-restored Pather Panchali the New York-based Criterion Collection organized at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on 4 May 2015 to relive the world premiere of the film that took place at the same place on 3 May 1955. The book boasts a foreword by Dhritiman Chaterji, one of Ray’s favourite actors, and an introduction by Sharmila Tagore, known as one of Ray’s most valuable discoveries.

 

Ray said he had never written “a fully developed screenplay” for his maiden film. He had only “a sheaf of sketches and notes”. The “sheaf of sketches and notes” made a long journey to its new home at the Cinematheque in Paris presumably sometime in the early 1960’s. It was accompanied by the shooting script for Apur Sansar (The World of Apu). Ray donated them to the Paris cine museum.

 

During his final days, Ray expressed a desire to have a look at the sketchbook. Sandip, his son, wrote to the museum authorities requesting them to send it back. The museum wrote back saying that both the sketchbook and the other script had been missing. Sandip kept this shocking news from his father lest it make an adverse effect on his father’s already failing health. Recently, the scanned copy of the entire sketchbook has reached the Satyajit Ray Society which has been wedded to the objects of the restoration, preservation and dissemination of the precious legacies of Satyajit Ray.

 

In his preface, Sandip Ray, who is also the Member-Secretary of the Society, writes that, with the publication of the book, “the admirers of Satyajit Ray around the world will get an opportunity to have a look at the entire sketchbook which formed the very foundation on which father made his maiden film.”

 

In his foreword, Dhritiman Chaterji writes: “The book will be of value to all kinds of readers. Film scholars and Ray enthusiasts will find a wealth of material in one place - the sketchbook itself, parts of the draft scenario, reviews, recollections, posters and illustrations. Equally importantly, younger filmgoers, including those who might not even have seen the film yet, will see a process unfolding, a mind at work.”

 

Sharmila Tagore says in her introduction: “The fifty-eight-page storyboard brings the film alive in another form. Leafing through the pages, I can see Ray’s meticulous attention to every detail, how closely his illustrations approximate what we see on-screen. It is astonishing to see how clear he was about what he wanted, despite being a first-time director. The sketchbook is a veritable manual for the aspiring film-maker, particularly for those who wish to express themselves through images while liberating scenes from excessive dialogue.”

*Pix courtesy Sumit Seth

Seminar to celebrate 60 years of Pather Panchali

By Zinia Sen

Photo Courtesy: Dipankar Sengupta

At a time when international recognition eludes Bengali cinema; not one film from the region has made to the Oscars as an official Indian entry after Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar. Is Bengali cinema losing its plot in the national context?

In the '60s, Columbia Pictures came calling on Satyajit Ray. They wanted him to make a science fiction and Ray got busy writing the story of Mr Ang,an alien of the size of a thumb, loosely based on his own Bankubabur Bandhu. Script of The Alien, set in the fictitious Mangalpur in rural Bengal, had an American engineer and a Marwari businessman; every other character was Bengali. While describing a scene from the screenplay, Ray's biographer W Andrew Robinson wrote: "In a series of fantastically quick, short steps over the lotus leaves, the Alien reaches the shore of the pond. He looks down at the grass, examines the blade and is off hopping into the bamboo grove. There the Alien sees a small plant. His eyes light up with a yellow light. He passes his hand over the plant, and flowers come out. A thin, soft high-pitched laugh shows the Alien is pleased." That the film didn't happen is another story . Even before that, Ray had refused another offer by David O Selznick, the producer of Gone with the Wind. A name to reckon with, even in the international circuit, Ray faced several hurdles before making a cut with Pather Panchali-which completed 60 years of its domestic release on August 26. His own stories of struggle are now part of cinema's history . And today, history too defined around the film -pre and post-PatherPanchali.

 

 

 

WAR AGAINST MEDIOCRITY

 

Much before Ray forayed into cinema, he would write a column with a popular daily as a cover artist, illustrator and book designer. There, he wrote about his apathy for Bengali films with mindless plots and actors donning the greasepaint to be part of cinema that had no roots. Said Ray scholar Ujwal Chakraborty , "He thought it was important to show what he firmly believed in and Pather Panchali, based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay's novel of the same name, happened. Ray, who had mortgaged his wife's jewellery, pawned his life insurance policy and sold his gramophone records, was finally sanctioned a loan by Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then CM of Bengal. The government thought it was a docu for rural uplift, and recorded the loan as that for `roads improvement', a reference to the film's title. When American filmmaker John Huston saw the silent rushes of the film in Kolkata, he immediately shot a letter to the Museum of Modern Arts for its screening. The film ran for seven months in New York and there was no look ing back." And it was nostalgia all the way as Aparna Sen, Dibakar Banerjee, Dileep Padgaonkar, Nandita Das, Sharmila Tagore, Shoojit Sircar, Sujoy Ghosh and Suman Mukhopadhyay , along with moderator Dhritiman Chatterjee, got together to debate on Indian Cinema: What is national, what is regional, on Sunday morning. The focus of the seminar organized by the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives, apart from Pather Panchali, was on why regional cinema is often perceived as a poorer cousin of Bollywood by the national audience.

 

 

 

IS LANGUAGE A BARRIER?

 

The popular saying is that cinema knows no language barrier. But in reality, Hindi has more acceptance in the country and is, therefore, a more popular means of communication. Hindi cinema, needless to say , caters to a larger audience. Sujoy , who recently made waves after releasing his short film in Bengali, Ahalya, on the net, however thinks differently."If people can watch a Korean, Japanese or a French film with subtitles, why not a Bengali movie? While watching Ahalya, no one referred to it as a Bengali film. If we have the right content, I don't know why we can't cross over!" he said. Shoojit, riding high on the success of Piku, added that his is a Bengali film made in Hindi. "In India, we talk in about 23 languages, which is not the case in other countries. But the government in Maharashtra is already doing its bit to popularize Marathi cinema," he said, pointing at the importance of government support when it comes to popularizing regional films. Nandita, who worked with Rituparno Ghosh and is clued into Bengali films, said despite making some great movies in his own language, "Ritu too is known nationally for The Last Lear and Raincoat. Sad, but true". Ray, who made Shatranj Ke Khiladi and Sadgatiin Hindi, however, didn't go back to making more films in the language.The reasons are aplenty . "He felt he would be a useless man outside his room," said Ujwal, adding that Ray was never fond of leaving his hometown for a long span of time. Another reason, said Sagnik Chatterjee, maker of Feluda -A Sleuth Story, was that Ray didn't want to depend on anyone else with any aspect of filmmaking."The translation of the scripts and dialogues in both his Hindi films were done by other people. Ray perhaps did not want to repeat that," said Sagnik.

 

 

 

WHERE'S THE MONEY FOR MARKETING?

 

The biggest constraint while releasing a Bengali film outside the state is the lack of publicity budget. Nandita, who has worked in several languages, is not in favour of branding cinema as national or regional.

"The nexus between producers and distributors is so deep that they assume a regional film will not do well outside the state. Some of my better works are in films that not many have seen. There was a choice if I would compromise on my acting skills in a Hindi film or do movies, which, when archived, live forever. I chose the latter," she said. Suman thinks cinema today is indeed driven by the economics."Court (Marathi) ran for a couple of weeks in just one theatre in Kolkata. On the other hand, Masaan, a Hindi film, thanks to great support by its producers, is still running. We are unable to create a separate distribution channel for regional cinema."

 

 

 

NEED FOR SUPPORTIVE PRODUCERS

 

Aparna said there were offers to make Mr and Mrs Iyer in Hindi, but she refused as one of her characters is Bengali and the other, Tamil. "Why should I do that? It's very important to have producers who have complete faith in your vision," said the actor-director, who feels more than the national-regional divide, what is worrying is the binaries created within the region.

"Today, Bengali cin ema is faced with a great urban-rural divide.Overcoming that is a huge challenge," she said. Shoojit, who tasted success as the producer of Open Tee Bioscope , a Bengali film, echoed similar feelings."It's impossible to make it big without the support from producers. There was a time when a National Award-winning Bengali film would release at an art centre; it was thought to be art film. There was something wrong in catering the film to the audience," he said.

 

 

 

ALL ABOUT CONVICTION

 

Sharmila, who worked in many of Ray's movies said there's reason why the master filmmaker managed to transcend all barriers -be it topographical or that of language. "He never let style override content. That's why a film like Aranyer Din Ratri still remains so contemporary . Ray is transnational, he is global..." she said. Dibakar feels it's important that a film has an audience base in its own region. "To fight with Bollywood, it needs to have support from its own people. But often, regional cinema is perceived as a poorer cousin of Bollywood. See, Ray stuck to his own language, own region, spoke to less number of people and didn't go for a wider audience. In the near future, I see regional films standing out as true human documents than the homogenized Bollywood." Pather Panchali was honoured with the Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. That it continues to inspire is a story in its own.*

*Gratefully reproduced from the Kolkata edition of The Times of India

Photo Courtesy: Dipankar Sengupta

Back on the little road: Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali returns in all its glory

By Jordan Hoffman 5th May 2015

 

It was something of a homecoming. Precisely 60 years and one day prior, at the same institution, the world first met Apu. Pather Panchali, Satyajit Ray’s debut film, one of the most important works of world cinema and the first chapter in the Apu trilogy, had its world premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on 3 May 1955. On 4 May 2015, Ray’s son Sandip, himself a film-maker, was on hand to present a new restoration of his late father’s most famous picture.*

Click here to read the rest of the article

 *Gratefully reproduced from The Guardian

Restored Apu trilogy returns Satyajit Ray’s humane work to theaters

By Andrew Robinson 7th May 2015

John Huston and Satyajit Ray. One might not think these two major directors had similar taste in movies. In the 1950s, Huston made “The African Queen” and “Moby Dick”; Ray made the three films generally known as the Apu Trilogy: the epic story of Apu, a boy born in a village in India who struggles for education and recognition as a man in the cosmopolitan city of Calcutta (now Kolkata). Yet, when I was writing a biography of Ray in the 1980s, Huston sent me a letter about Ray and his work. “I recognized the footage as the work of a great filmmaker,” he wrote.“I liked Ray enormously on first encounter. Everything he did and said supported my feelings on viewing the film.”*

Click here to read the rest of the article

 *Gratefully reproduced from the New York Times

Pather Panchali No. 12 best arthouse film of all time

By Stuart Jeffries 20th October 2010

 

It was the birth of a cinema, certainly the birth of a new kind of Indian cinema. On the first day of the shoot, the director had never directed, the cameraman had never shot a scene, the children in the leading roles hadn't been tested and the soundtrack was composed by a then obscure sitarist (the great Ravi Shankar). Perhaps this inexperience gave everyone involved the freedom to create something new. Certainly director Satyajit Ray and cinematographer Subrata Mitra showed a miraculous gift for lighting scenes, coaxing intimate and utterly convincing performances from children and other non-professional actors, and allowing narrative to grow seamlessly – just as happened in the best of the films by Ray's western mentor, Jean Renoir.*

Click here to read the rest of the article

 *Gratefully reproduced from The Guardian

 

More on Pather Pachali-

5 ways to look at Satyajit Ray's the Apu Trilogy

satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy

Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali restoration Apu Trilogy

The miraculous Apu Trilogy

 

 

Satyajit Ray's portrait at UN exhibition

By Agencies 28th June 2015

 

New York: Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray is among the 16 global thinkers whose portraits have been displayed here at the UN art exhibition titled The Transformative Power of Art. They have been recognised for contributing to the common good of humanity

Apart from Ray, the list includes Pierre-Claver Akendengué (Gabon), Maya Angelou (US), Joan Baez (US), Audrey Hepburn (Britain), Vassily Kandinsky (Russia), Umm Kulthum (Egypt), Gong Li (China), Miriam Makeba (South Africa), Edgar Morin (France), Fatemeh Motamed-Arya (Iran), Okot p’Bitek (Uganda), Sebastião Salgado (Brazil), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Ngugi Wa Thiong'o (Kenya), and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan).*

Click here to read the rest of the report

 *Gratefully reproduced from Mid-Day

 

 

The Master and His Actor

By Amitava Nag 2nd May 2015

Pix: Mala Mukerjee

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 vate 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.

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.

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

 

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

Pix: Mala Mukerjee

Book launch and Ray memorial lecture by Naseeruddin Shah

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.

 

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.

 

Mr. Naseeruddin Shah, renowned screen and stage actor, launched the book ata 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 storie 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.

 

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

"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

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 Pachali

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)

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)

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)

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)

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 Sonar Kella(1970)

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 Enemy of the People/Ganashatru (1989)

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Ray festival at Sirifort, Delhi

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.

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

 ‘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 wrote, ‘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

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.

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