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  • Raghav Sand

Satyajit: A Ray of Sunshine

Art, if done well, transcends the barriers of culture, ethnicity and demographics. Thankfully, storytelling is still an art, though like many other aspects of filmmaking, science may never be able to narrate human tales. There are artists who survive and thrive with in the confines of their native language, and then there are people like Satyajit Ray. Travelling and art gives us a glimpse of the life and lifestyle with in a country or community. Ray’s movies have always taken us closer to the locales of his screenplay. Language is self-sufficient and immortal. Bengali language became richer and more respected from the endeavours Ray – a true son of the soil, yet a widely acclaimed and accepted global citizen.

Celebrating a Legend

May 2, will mark the birth centenary of Satyajit Ray. A lot of anecdotal and encyclopaedic articles will be written about him in publications of all shapes and sizes. He will be remembered throughout the world where people understand and appreciate cinema. Legend is an overused term these days. If we have to understand the true meaning of the word, then Satyajit Ray is one of the most appropriate synonyms of the word legend. Organizing film festivals, naming awards after him and remembrance seminars will help Ray’s admirers to pay their homage, while the buzz around his birth centenary shall earn him a new set of fans.

Satyajit Ray while shooting for ‘Joi Baba Felunath’ on the banks of Ganga at Varanasi

Simply Extraordinary!

Telling stories like Satyajit Ray requires superlative observation and imagination skills; it also involves knowledge about human life. Real life is authentic. Success and failure are inseparable, while there is a constant struggle to make ends meet and have a buffer for the uncertain future. When Satyajit Ray chose to tell a story, he never tired to overemphasize the condition of the character. Wherever there was pain, his vantage point made us look at the situation with empathy and hope. On the other hand, when his characters and their surroundings were well-to-do, there was an element of refinement.

Reality Check

People who are far behind Ray in terms of impact, have been lauded and remembered due to well-engineered marketing and public relations campaign. The curious and creative souls do stumble upon his work and are later awed by the range of his creative spectrum. With widespread mediocrity in India, Satyajit Ray’s life teaches us to confront truth and be fearless in our quest for excellence. A person like him could have been anything he wished to do, but he opted to make movies. His early work as a visualiser in an advertising agency helped him to polish visual design skills. Before becoming a full-time filmmaker, Ray designed book covers and movie posters. He continued to design the posters of his movies, merging folk art and calligraphy, seamlessly.

Satyajit Ray, 22 years old at Shantiniketan

Being a Bengali and living in Bengal are two different things. If you happen to stay in a Bengali dominated locality and interact with neighbours or venture out to transact with the nearby grocery store and vegetable or fruit vendor, chances are that your Bengali skills will keep moving in the right direction. Once a person has basic know-how about any language, the culturally-inclined individuals will try to dive deeper. Literature and cinema will fill this void of curiosity. Most of the things said above do not apply for Bengalis, because information about Satyajit Ray and his body of work are essential elements to earn the badge of being a true-blue Bengali.


Do it yourself is now a commonly used term. From home improvement to haircut, people have taken voluntary action to bring a change in their surroundings or themselves. Wikipedia articles and YouTube videos about Satyajit Ray are a good starting point, but if you want to know the real person, then watch and read his work, as much as possible. If you are a student of cinema, then chances are that you may have already seen most of his work. In the age of content streaming, it will not be difficult to find Ray on your mobile device or smart TV. So, if you are looking for a positive and purposeful distraction from all that is going around, Satyajit may be the Ray of hope you are looking for.

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