Satyajit Ray’s 29th death anniv today

Culture Desk

23 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Satyajit Ray’s 29th death anniv today

Today is the 29th death anniversary of legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, artist and author Satyajit Ray.

One of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Satyajit Ray was born in Kolkata on May 2 in 1921 into a Bengali family.  

Satyajit Ray, who started his career as a commercial artist, became an independent filmmaker after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and watching Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London.

Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He authored several short stories and novels, primarily aimed at children and adolescents. Feluda, the sleuth, and Professor Shonku, the scientist in his science fiction stories, are popular fictional characters created by him. He was awarded an honourary degree by Oxford University.

Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. 

Satyajit did the scripting, casting, scoring, and editing, and designed his own credit titles and publicity material. Ray received many awards during his career, including 32 Indian National Film Awards, a number of awards at international film festivals and award ceremonies, and an Academy Honorary Award in 1992. 

The Government of India honoured him with the Bharat Ratna in 1992.

Satyajit Ray’s ancestry can be traced back for at least ten generations. His grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury was a writer, illustrator, philosopher, publisher, amateur astronomer and a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a religious and social movement in nineteenth century Bengal.

 Sukumar Ray, Upendrakishore’s son and father of Satyajit, was a pioneering Bengali writer of nonsense rhyme (abol tabol) and children’s literature, an illustrator and a critic. Ray was born to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray in Kolkata.

Satyajit studied at Ballygunge Government High School, Kolkata, and completed his BA in economics at Presidency College.

In 1940, his mother insisted that he study at the Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, founded by Rabindranath Tagore. 

Satyajit was reluctant due to his love of Calcutta, and the low opinion of the intellectual life at Santiniketan. His mother’s persuasion and his respect for Tagore finally convinced him to try. 

In Santiniketan, Satyajit came to appreciate Oriental art. He later admitted that he learned much from the famous painters Nandalal Bose and Benode Behari Mukherjee. 

Later, he produced a documentary film, The Inner Eye, about Mukherjee. His visits to Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta stimulated his admiration for Indian art.

Satyajit Ray breathed his last in Kolakata on April 23 in 1992.