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The Illustrious Life of Satyajit Ray

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The Indian film industry influences aspects of daily life in India, with actors being idolised and worshipped. Satyajit Ray was born on the 2nd of May 1921. He was a towering figure in the world of cinema and not just because he stood at 6 feet. As his family embraced Brahmo Samaj, Ray was influenced by this progressive outlook and many of his films showcase this. 

In school he would read Hollywood trivia and was a fan of film. He was interested in watching films and listening to western classical music on his gramophone. 

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Satyajit Ray. Credit: The Print

 He studied at the University of Calcutta and later joined Shantiniketan, a university started by Rabindranath Tagore, where he studied art. In 1943 he started his career as a commercial artist. Ray wrote several articles on cinema which were published in both English and Bengali. He wrote screen plays for himself, about films that were announced and compared it with the completed film. 

In 1947, he founded Calcutta’s first film society and produced its first film Pather Panchali in 1953, it was successful and won a Grand Prix at the Cannes festival. Ray decided to shoot on locations with completely unknown actors. He was convinced that he could make realistic cinema. Even though he had no experience in film making, he collected a group of young men who would be his technicians. He approached the widow of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, who wrote Pather Panchali for film rights. He finally found a producer for the film in 1953. 2 years later in August 1955, the film was released in Calcutta. 

Ray once said, “The raw material of cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting and music and poetry should fail to move the filmmaker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears.”

In the mid 1980s he suffered two heart attacks during production of Ghare Baire, his son completed the project following his fathers instructions. He died on 23 April, 1992, after directing about 36 films. Ray edited Sandesh, a children’s magazine and wrote numerous fiction and nonfiction works. In 1992 he won an honorary Academy Award. And the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian order. 

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