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Commemorating the Master Flicks of an avid Indian Bengali Filmmaker, Satyajit Ray

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Portrait of Satyajit Ray, Wikimedia
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May 07, 2017: Honouring the legendary and the greatest filmmaker Satyajit Ray on the auspicious occasion of his birthday, Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa aptly said, “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”

Over his 35-year-long career as a filmmaker, he directed over 30 films., including projects of myriads variety, ranging from fantasy, science fiction, detective films, historical dramas to feature films, documentaries, and shorts. Besides being a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer, he was also the greatest film critic. He has authored several short stories and novels, primarily aimed at children and adolescents.

Here are some of the films of Satyajit Ray which were way ahead of their time and are often listed among the greatest films of all times

  • Pathar Panchali

Satyajit’s debut film “Pather Panchali” is a tale of joys and sorrows of a poor Indian family in Bengal, and is a heartwarming indication that poverty does not always nullify love. The film has won eleven international prizes. This film, along with “Aparajita” and “Apur Sansar” from famous “The Apu Trilogy” are also listed among the greatest movies of all time in the history of Indian cinema. Describing the growing up of a young boy Apu (Apurba Kumar Roy) through the technique of Buildungsroman, the film narrated the childhood, education and early maturity of a young boy in the early part of the 20th century.

Satyajit Ray with Ravi Sankar recording for Pather Panchali, Wikimedia

Pioneering the Parallel Cinema movement, “Pathar Panchali” is described as the ‘turning point in Indian Cinema’. The film is said to embrace social realism and authenticity. Through his debut film, Satyajit Ray became the architect of a genre of films “Indian Parallel Cinema”. These films aimed at concerning less with offering spectacle and glamour and touched social and political subjects. Moreover, The films were usually produced on a shoestring budget without depending on stardom for success.

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  • Aparajita

The film starts off where the previous film Pather Panchali ended, with protagonist Apu’s family moving to Varanasi depicting Apu’s stepping into adolescence in college and leaving his childhood, right up to his mother’s death, when he is left all alone.

  • Apur Sansar

Being the third part of The Apu Trilogy, the film is about the childhood and early adulthood of Apu that focuses on the world of the young man. Apu’s tragic life as a teenager and an adult perfectly reflects the cruel, realistic realities, and is sure to leave you in tears.

  • Days and Nights in the Forest

As a tribute to Renoir’s classic Partie de campagne, “Days and Nights in the Forest” is all about transplanting the scene from pastoral France to the forests of north-eastern India.

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  • Goopy Bagha Trilogy

Children took immense pleasure in watching Ray’s film series which includes “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne”, “Hirok Rajar Deshe” and “Goopy Bagha Firey Elo”.

It is interesting to note that the first two films of the ‘Goopy Bagha Trilogy’, “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne” and “Hirak Rajar Deshe” were directed by Satyajit Ray, and the third film “Goopy Bagha Phire Elo” was directed by his son. The first movie was keenly made for entertaining kids while the second part “Hirok Rajar Deshe”, reflected the reign of Indira Gandhi in India and the emergency period. While a child would have enjoyed the story of a ruthless king being dethroned, an adult watching the film would have intimated with the deeper meaning of the film.

  • Teen Kanya

“Teen Kanya” was originally written by Rabindranath Tagore and later adapted by Satyajit Ray into a film. Teen Kanya narrated the tale of three different women during the three different stages of their lives.

  • Charulata

“Charulata” was another written work of Rabindranath Tagore that narrates the tale of a lonely wife who develops a deeply regrettable bond with her brother-in-law. The film is meditative poetry, lingering over the inner turmoil endured by all the characters.

  • Nayak

Starring Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore, the first major film in the post Charulata period “Nayak” narrates the twenty-four hours of the journey, during which the film explores the inner conflict of the apparently highly successful matinée idol.

  • The Music Room

Ray represented on the world stage the magisterial drama about an ageing Bengali landowner and his fatality clinging to the past. Ray brings Roy’s perfumed world to life with glittering images of fireworks, gleaming chandeliers and the cavernous extravagance of his music room, where he invites sitarists and dancers to entertain him and his guests.

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  • The Big City

Ray was found railing against the ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ mentality, making a sassy, nuanced and deeply moving film about the gathering speed of modernity and feminism in his home city of Calcutta. Protagonist Arati, who has never stepped out of the four walls of her house suddenly takes to the world of work to support her large and extended family.

  • Kanchenjungha

“Kanchenjungha” was his first film in colour which tells its audience of an upper-class family spending an afternoon in Darjeeling, a picturesque hill town in West Bengal.

Being a skilled calligrapher, Satyajit Ray had designed four typefaces for the Roman script – Ray Roman, Ray Bizarre, Daphnis, and Holiday Script, in addition to several others for the Bengali script. Out of which Ray Roman and Ray Bizarre had bagged an international prize.

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Ray was honoured with many major awards in his career, including 32 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Bear, a Golden Lion, and various International awards. In 1992, Ray was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the Government of India. He was also awarded an honorary degree by Oxford University.

Ray is the first and the only Indian to receive an Honorary Academy Award by the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Calling it the “Best achievement of movie-making career”, he accepted the award in a severely ill condition and left for heavenly abode at the age of 71 on 23 April 1992.

prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram. Twitter handle- @Himanshi1104

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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)