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Satyajit Ray - by Angshu Chatterjee


 I count myself among one of the lucky ones to have been born in the era when the appreciation for black & white masterpieces of motion picture was at its zenith. But what I consider priceless is my growing up in a time when an Academy Award winning director created those masterpieces which were entertaining and masterfully crafted for adults and children alike. His craftsmanship was millennia ahead of all others preceding or following his! I know I will find the whole gen X nodding its head at this. Such was the shear brilliance of Satyajit Ray!

The very fact that a man of his brilliance, intellect and fanfare directed only a handful of movies goes on to show the amount of thought and effort invested in each one of those. It needs no expert to tell that Satyajit Ray is the best the Bengali Cinema or for that matter Indian Cinema has ever seen and neither does it to point out the expertise with which the nuances, fragility and unassuming complications of human relations and feelings were portrayed in his films.

The visual euphemism depicted in his direction and story-telling is exemplary! Who doesn't remember the scene from Pother Panchali where Indir dies? With a display of such brilliance does it take an expert to figure out why he went on to win Academy Award for lifetime achievement which was only bestowed to the names like Akira Kurosawa, Paul Newman, Walt Disney and such! The official announcement pronounced "in recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.", and each word in it carries the weight of the world he portrayed with such unfailing honesty.

Any Bengali can ramble on and on, and trust me Bengalis do that pretty well, about what makes Satyajit Ray so special. But the part which a lot of us who belong to that golden era take for granted is how his creations in small but with a certain assertion has affected the lives of many who has grown up believing annihilation gun was really a feasible idea or that the Asia's Best Crime Detective (ABCD), as Jatayu used to call him, is really our own Feluda! To make matters more organic, with a little help of his own magical touch in motion picture, we all believed Soumitra Chatterjee was really Feluda! The very essence which made a kids’ movie a good kids’ movie, were so genetically embedded in us. For example, who among us hasn't screamed out one of the versions, the tone deaf one or the more musical one, of the song "Dekho re nayan mele" at the top of their voice? I personally, had an unintentional favoritism towards the tone deaf version. Who hasn't tried to high-five and pretended to magically arrive at a different place! I can list an enormous number of such minute musings which apart from being an integral part of a child's play in the 80's, are actually ingrained in our memories with such positive and happy energy that those have given us the luxury of curling up with and getting lost in a whole lot of fond memories!

Childhood is an amazing thing! It is the time when a lot lesser materialistic existence wasn't an obstacle to an eternal and unfathomable happy outlook! Simple things like a scientific or a crime thriller by Satyajit Ray was enough to make a child roll out laughing on the bed or made him stay up late under the bed sheet with a flashlight! On a more literary note, I will be honest, a lot of my and albeit a lot of others' from our generation, introduction to Bengali literature was through these simple and powerfully imaginative books by Satyajit Ray. Before, more advanced content from Tagore and Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, more matured content from Sunil Gangopadhyay or, more dark humor by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay took over, Satyajit Ray's books were really the only ones I ever wanted to read! I recall pushing my dad to get me the whole collection of Feluda for my birthday. Well, that didn't happen but, I managed to read the whole collection anyway. My point, without going into the whole discussion or debate on the who's who of Bengali literature, because, again, Bengalis do that also pretty darn well, is that uncomplicated and targeted literary content such as Satyajit Ray's books, ease children into the wonderful world of Bengali literature. Unfortunately this is not as common a case as it used to be even 10 years ago. I believe the whole polluted world of cheap and quick heroism and a plethora electronic entertainment has ruined it. Ruined is probably too harsh a word but you get my point! It is just that with all the visual stimulation kids have available in their hands reach, the imagination and creativity of innocence is nearly extinct.

Without raising an ounce of skepticism in the readers' minds  I can narrate in lengths the effects of presence of such a personality on the lives of children and adults belonging to the age where "Adhunik" bengali literature was still scarce. The higher entropy perspective is that Satyajit Ray's narrative generated quasi-scientific or quasi-heroic dreams and visions among the kids from the that era. We all owe him for giving us the luxury of dreaming such a pedantic dream on a rather inconsequential matter. It is an immense boost to the virtue every one of us were born with but had snatched away from us by the more dominant nature of time and age; the virtue of innocence! After all, innocence is an expensive gift! Isn’t it?

- Angshu Chatterjee


#1 Akash Chatterjee 2013-08-04 11:45

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