With his debut film Pather Panchali itself, he made the world sit up& take notice.It would n't be far out to suggest that Ray was perhaps the ast of the Renaissance men from Bengal& this when the highly patriotic& creative soil of Bengal never lacked illustrious sons and daughters! When talking about Ray 's cinema, one ca n't help but recall Akira Kurosawa 's memorable eulogy: The quiet but deep observation, understanding and love of the human race, which are typica of all his films, have impressed me greatly…Not to have seen the inema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.For me reading this memoi was like taking a walk down memory lane because Ray 's cinema ( along with several other Bengali filmmakers') was part of my cultural diet in order to grow up as a " propah Bengali girl "! And as is my wont, while reading this nthology, I ended up watching many of his movies, some of them are not even part of this collection but as you know, one thing often leads to another.
After all, cinema is a director 's medium.The translator of these novels, Bhaskar Chattopadhyay, has tackled this subject of cinematic adaptations in the Translator 's Note included in the bonus material. *I think other than Rabindranath Tagore 's ( Gurudev 's lyrical prose finds perfect expression in Ray 's equally lyrical cinematic idiom),& to some extent Munshi Premchand 's stories here, Ray has tinkered with most of them in their cinematic form, either in terms of the ending, the narrative sequencing, addition/omission of certain characters& so on.
For context, the movie Agantuk ( The Stranger), based on Ray 's own story, which was initially written as a children 's ale, assumed gravitas as his last film& testament, so much so that Ray told his lead, played by veteran actor Utpal Dutt that he was playing him ( Ray) in the movie.Traditionally, Bengali cinema has been rooted in literature because owing to the Bengal Renaissance; there was a wealth of Bengali literature to turn into celluloid masterpieces.This collection focusses on the 14 stories that inspired Ray in his long filmmaking career& they range from the highly daring for its progressive theme, Devi ( The Goddess), to the acutely nostalgic Jalsaghar ( The Music Room), the hugely popular children 's musical fantasy based on Ray 's grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury 's story, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne ( The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), which I do n't like at all, its forced humour is in sharp contrast to the sophisticated intelligence shown in Rajshekhar Basu 's comic tale, Parash Pathar ( The Philosopher 's Stone), to Ray 's perennial literary source i.e. Tagore – Tagore 's three chosen stories here present three facets of women& man-woman relationships in The Postmaster, Monihara ( The Lost Jewels), and Samapti ( The Conclusion), which were combined by Ray as a triptych in Teen Kanya ( Three Daughters), two of Ray 's own stories Agantuk ( The Stranger),& Pikoo 's Diary, Ray 's entry into Hindi films via Munshi Premchand 's classic retellin of excessive self-indulgence& chronic aestheticism of the Nizam of Awadh& his elites in Shatranj Ke Khiladi ( The Chess Players),& another of his heart-rending tale on the inhumanity of the Hindu caste system, Sadgati ( Deliverance) which was made for the national tv network,& so on& you can see the variety here covers quite a lot of Ray 's filmography.
Oh I forgot, there are two stories here whose film versions featured Madhabi Mukherjee, the beautiful Charulata ( which happens to be Ray 's fav among his own creations),& they are Mahanagar ( The Big City),& Kapurush ( The Coward), part of the two-film ensemble Kapurush–O–Mahapurush ( The Coward& The Holy Man) .Btw, she was the only lady who rocked the placid marital boat of the Rays ... Back to films: Vittorio De Sica 's Bicycle Thieves& other neo-realist films had a great influence on Ray. Deeply humanistic in nature, whether set in rural or urban milieu; Ray 's films capture a society in transition – caught between obstructionist old ways, religious orthodoxy, superstitions, casteism,& gender inequality on one hand,& the desire for a progressive, rational,& egalitarian society on the many, they effortlessly chronicle both the turbulent reformist period in Bengal history& the moral ambiguities of a later modern day Indian metropolis.My favourite story in this anthology, Jalsaghar ( The Music Room), for example, is a poignant rendition of the lost glory days of a seventh-generation feudal lord in the 1880s rural Bengal, his distaste for musical soirees desperately leading him on a last self-destructive bid of one-upmanship with his nouveau riche neighbour.This movie was a French fav as the subject was close to their heart – a lament on the passing away of the age of connoisseurs, the fall of aristocracy& the rise of the bourgeois.The Europeans hailed Ray long before Hollywood came calling with the long-delayed Life Time Achievement Oscar in 1992, which, a seriously ailing Ray, accepted from his hospital bed.
What he has to give us is so rich, so contemplative in approach ( and this we are completely unused to in the film medium except perhaps in documentary), that we begin to accept our lapses of attention during the tedious moments with the same thin of relaxation and confidence and affection that we feel for the boring sketches in the great storie, the epic poems.My movie recs for the Ray newbie: Charulata ( The Lonely Wife) Pather Panchali ( The Song/Lament of the Road) Jalsaghar ( The Music Room) Aranyer Din Ratri ( Days and Nights in the Forest) Mahanagar ( The Big City) Nayak ( The Heroe) Jana Aranya ( The Middle Man) Seemabaddha ( Company Limited)*** (*) An attractive feature of this book is the P.S. section comprising Insights& Interviews with eminent film personalities.
On my way home, I stopped in Calcutta to visit Satyajit Ray, the Indian movie director, and we went out to lunch.