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Remembering Satyajit Ray on his 29th Death Anniversary

Satyajit Ray is one of the greatest filmmakers the world has seen in the 20th century.  Ray was a multi-talented personality who excelled in many areas. He was a filmmaker, author, scriptwriter, graphic designer, illustrator, lyricist, music composer, calligrapher, publisher, and film critic.

Pather Panchali (1955), his very first film won many national and international awards. The film won India’s National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1955, the year it was released. The international awards include the Best Human Document at Cannes in 1956 and also the Golden Gate award for Best Director and Best Picture (San Francisco) in 1957.

Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road) which brought social realism into Indian cinema is the story of a little boy named Apu living with his family in a village. Ray carried forward the story of Apu in Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956) and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959).

Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries, and telly films. Other than Bengali he directed movies in Hindi, Urdu, and English. Ray is best known for his films,

Pather Panchali (The Song of the Little Road) – 1955

Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956)

Jalsaghar (The Music Room) – 1958

Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959)

Charulata (The Lonely Wife) -1964

Nayak (The Hero) – 1966

Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights of the Forest) in 1969

Seemabaddhaa (Company Limited) -1971

Agantuk (The Stranger) -1992

Satyajit Ray received many national and international film awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray an Honorary Oscar in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement. After this award, the Academy started preserving the works of Ray. Academy’s Satyajit Ray Collection includes 18 feature films directed by Ray.  This includes “Two,” a short film made for television in 1964.

‘Two’ is a short film of twelve minutes without any dialogues. It has only sounds and music. Ray called ‘Two’ a ‘film fable’. Within just twelve minutes Ray was able to illustrate complex subjects such as envy, loneliness, happiness, freedom, and socio-economic parity in the society through a childish duel between a rich boy and a poor boy.  This film without any dialogue is one of the best films ever made by Satyajit Ray. In Ray’s own words, ‘Two’ is a ‘film that packs quite a punch in its 10 minutes.’

The master filmmaker was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest award in Indian cinema, in 1984. In 1992, the Government of India honoured him with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

Satyajit Ray, who was born on 2 May 1921 in Kolkatta, passed away on 23 April 1992.

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