Feb 18, 2008


"The quiet but deep observation, understanding and love of the human race,
which are characteristic of all his films,have impressed me greatly. ...
I feel that he is a "giant" of the movie industry."

- Akira Kurosawa


24th Ferbuary 2008 ; 9.45 am - 7 pm
Cosmopolitan Club , Race Course ,Coimbatore
Call 94430 39630

Satyajit Ray

Director, Producer, Screenwriter,
Composer, Writer, Graphic Designer
Born: May 2, 1921, Kolkata (Calcutta), India
Died: April 23, 1992, Calcutta, India

Satyajit Ray, standing 6'-4" tall, was a towering figure in the world of cinema. He studied at the university in Calcutta and later joined Shantiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore's university to study art. He began his career as a commercial artist (1943-56). He founded Calcutta's first film society in 1947 and made his first film, Pather Panchali (1955) while working at an advertising agency. Pather Panchali was an immediate success and won Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival. Pather Panchali with his Aparajito (1956, The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (1959, The World of Apu) are known as 'Apu Trilogy'. His later films include Jalsaghar (1958, The Music Room), Kanchenjunga
(1962), Charulata (1964, The Lonely Wife), Ashanti Sanket (1973, Distant Thunder), The Chess Players (1977), The Home and The World (1984), Ganashatru (1989, Public Enemy), and Agantuk (1990, The S
tranger). Ray also edited Sandesh, a children's magazine and wrote numerous fiction and nonfiction works. In 1992 he received an honorary Academy Award.

Satyajit Ray, the master storyteller, has left a cinematic heritage that belongs as much to India
as to the world. H
is films demonstrate a remarkable humanism, elaborate observation and subtle handling of characters and situations. The cinema of Satyajit Ray is a rare blend of intellect and emotions. He is controlled, precise, meticulous, and yet, evokes deep emotional response from the audience. His films depict a fine sensitivity without using melodrama or dramatic excesses. He evolved a cinematic style that is almost invisible. He strongly believed - "The best technique is the one that's not noticeable".

Ray directly controlled many aspects of filmmaking. He wrote all the screenplays of his films, many of which were based on his own stories. He designed the sets and costumes, operated the camera since Charulata (1964), he composed the music for all his films since 1962 and designed the publicity posters for his new releases.

In addition to filmmaking, Ray was a composer, a writer and a graphic designer. He even designed a new typeface. In 1961, he revived and continued to publish the Bengali children's magazine "Sandesh", which was founded by his grandfather Upendrakishore Ray .

Though initially inspired by the neo-realist tradition, his cinema belongs not to a specific category or style but a timeless meta-genre of a style of story telling that touches the audience in some way. All very different in style and content, and yet creators of cinema that is timeless and universal.

Konangal is screening 3 of Ray’s classics , Pather Panchali , Charulatha and Shantranj Ke Khilari at Cosmopolitan Club , Race Course , Coimbatore from 9.45 am to 7 pm on 24th Feb 2008.

Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road)
1955, India. 115 min, B/W, In Bengali with English Sub titles

"The first film by the masterly Satyajit Ray - possibly the most unembarrassed and natural of directors - is a quiet reverie about the life of an impoverished Brahman family in a Bengali village. Beautiful, sometimes funny, and full of love, it brought a new vision of India to the screen."
- Pauline Kael

The time is early twentieth century, a remote village in Bengal.The film deals with a Brahmin family, a priest - Harihar, his wife Sarbajaya, daughter Durga, and his aged cousin Indir Thakrun - struggling to make both ends meet. Harihar is frequently away from home on work. The wife is raising her mischievous daughter Durga and caring for elderly cousin Indir, whose independent spirit sometimes irritates her... Apu is born. With the little boy's arrival, happiness, play and exploration uplift the children's daily life.

Durga and Apu share an intimate bond. They follow a candy seller whose wares they can not afford, enjoy the theatre, discover a train and witness a marriage ceremony. They even face death of their aunt - Indir Thakrun. Durga is accused of a theft. She fall ill after a joyous dance in rains of the monsoon. On a stormy day, when Harihar is away on work, Durga dies. On Harihar's return, the family leaves their village in search of a new life in Benaras. The film closes with an image of Harihar, wife and son - Apu, slowly moving way in an ox cart.

Charulata (The Lonely Wife)
1964, India. 117 min, B/W, In Bengali with English Sub titles

"...The interplay of sophistication and simplicity is extraordinary."
- Penelope Houston, Sight and Sound, 1965

Charulata (The Lonely Wife) was Ray's twelfth feature film. It was also the director's favorite. Ray described the film as the one which has the least defects. In an interview with 'Cineaste' magazine, when asked about his most satisfying film, Ray said, "Well, the one film that I would make the same way, if I had to do it again, is Charulata."It stands out among Ray's films.

The location is Calcutta, around 1880. Bhupati, who edits and publishes in his home a political newspaper called The Sentinel, is persuaded that his wife Charulata has special gifts as a writer. When his young cousin (the relationship is considered to be equivalent to Charu's brother-in-law) Amal, comes to live with them, Bhupati asks him to encourage her cultural interests, but in such a way that she remains unaware of her husband's intervention in setting up their encounter. An increasingly intimate relationship develops between Charulata and Amal: one based on complicity, friendship, writing, and eventually love. Meanwhile, the bookkeeper of The Sentinel, another family member, embezzles the funds supporting the paper and destroys Bhupati's hopes for his enterprise. All he has left is the trust he has placed in Charulata and Amal, which has been compromised by their feelings for each other.

In this film, as well as in Devi (The Goddess, 1960) and Ghare Baire (The Home and the World, 1984), Ray explores the cultural emergence of the idea of the "modern woman" in the upper class of colonial India, showing with striking sensitivity the pressures this new ideal placed on individual women whose self-identities were also molded by traditional expectations.

Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players)
1977, India. 113 min., Color, Urdu/Hindi and English- with English Sub titles

Shatranj Ke Khilari was Ray's most expensive film boasting of stars from western and Hindi cinema of Bombay. It is also Ray’s one of the two non-Bengali films; other being Sadgati (Deliverance) also based on a short story by Munshi Premchand.

While Munshi Premchand's story focuses on the two chess players Mirza and Mir, Ray expanded the story by elaborating the characters of Wajid Ali Shah and General Outram and adding a few more characters. Ray was attracted to the story by the parallel that Munshi Premchand draws between chess games of Mir and Mirza, and the crafty moves by the British to capture the king.

The action takes place in 1856, in Lucknow, capital of the moslem kingdom of Oudh. The king is Wajid Ali Shah, who prefers to devote himself to the pleasures of art instead of submitting to the subterfuges and stakes of politics. He dedicates his time, sequestered in his palace, to poetry and to recitals of music and dance. The English Company of India, which is strengthening its grip on the country (in 1858 the British crown would directly take over control of the government), charges general Outtram with dethroning the king, who eventually abdicates without a fight. Parallel to this, two aristocrats ravenously indulge their passion for chess while neglecting everything else, beginning

with their respective wives. We first see them playing chess in their houses, and they end up playing outdoors, without having noticed the historic changes ocurring under their noses.

All the lead players, Sanjeev Kumar (Mirza Sajjad Ali), Saeed Jaffrey (Mir Roshan Ali), Amjad Khan (Wajid Ali Shah, Nawab), Victor Banerjee (Ali Naqi Khan, the Prime Minister) and Sir Richard Attenborough (General Outram) give their finest performances.

Courtesy SatyajitRay.org

ADMISSION FREE ; Lunch and tea served for Rs.50

Satyajit Ray Film Festival is supported by
Hollywood DVD Shoppe
& ONGC Chennai

1 comment:

suman ghosh said...

i love mr. satyajeet roy.
all of you done great work