Firstly, onar cinema dekhar karon hocche he took Indian cinema to the rest of the world. He broke the traditional discourse of Indian films and decided to narrate stories which were not directly spoon fed to the audience. His gathered influence from foreign films and film movements has been a striking factor for the change of narratives in Indian cinema. Ray was one of the foremost filmmakers who welcomed the Indian New Wave on screen. His immense love for storytelling too drove him into making films. Many renowned directors like Martin Scorsese has cited him as one of his direct influences.
Many argue that he is the first to have introduced post-colonial intellectual awareness to Bengali cinema. However, it is debatable, as Ritwik Ghatak, his contemporary was attempting at just the same. Ray’s films, however, were commercially more successful.
Here’s a small list of some legendary Satyajir Ray films that must be watched by everyone.
The Pather Panchali series (Apu Trilogy)
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Some believe it is the perfect adaptation of Bibhutibhusan’s novel, while others think it’s just an ordinary story, told aesthetically. The cinematography is given so much critical importance, that it enriches the entire film. This sense of authenticity interested the West very much, and, therefore, the Oscars and so on and so forth.
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Yet another example Ray’s fine eye for details. I have felt as if his sense of visual aesthetics encompasses the entire film…which is the case for all films. The spirit of the zamindari system is made obvious in the imagery in the film. Besides, the brilliance of the casting is evident through the characterization in the film.
Aranyer Din Ratri
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Adaptation of literature was common in contemporary Bengali cinema. An adaptation of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s novel by that name, this film brings out urban hypocrisy and its twisted sense of morality.
Nayak and Chiriyakhana
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In these two films, as Ray deglamorised Uttam Kumar of his star status, brought out the best of his acting skills, thus skillfully focusing on the complexities of the narrative. Kumar’s performance in Nayak has reached a cult status today. Many believe Nayak to be a beginning of his neo-realistic lookout. If that be true, then Partidwandi, Shakha Prashakha, Seemabaddha, and Agantuk fall under the same category, where the reservations and prejudices of the middle-class are eventually attacked upon by modernity. The fact that civilization is only a tool for the rich, is illustrated in all these films.
Besides these, two of Tagore’s novels, and three of his short stories were also adapted by him, shaped by his Brahmo upbringing, throwing light to upper-class Bengali characters, brought up in accordance with western ideals. The essence of Tagore’s literature is successfully captured on celluloid. The use of cinematography and music adds yet another touch to that brilliance.
Not to forget the legendary Feluda series and Shatranj ke Khiladi.