Tributes

Akira Kurosawa

The quiet but deep observation, understanding and love of the human race, which are characteristic of all his films, have impressed me greatly… I feel that he (Ray) is a ‘giant’ of the movie industry. Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.

John Huston

When I saw the footage of Pather Panchali in Calcutta in 1954 I was deeply impressed and recognised it as the work of a great filmmaker. My subsequent meeting with Ray was a high point of my visit to India. Everything he did and said supported my feelings upon viewing his film.

Jean Renoir

I think he (Ray) has it in his blood. Though he is very young still, he is the father of Indian cinema.

Michelangelo Antonioni

My admiration for Satyajit Ray is total. I am very thankful to him because through his films I have known India with a deep insight.

Arthur C. Clarke

 

I must admit I get rather restive when people write saying that my first published story was my best. Perhaps Satyajit feels the same about his own first born. But surely Pather Panchali is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful films ever made. There are scenes which I need never view again because they are burnt upon my memory.

M.F. Husain

I have a fascination for Satyajit Ray's films. My first experience of them was Pather Panchali. I was so taken with it that I sketched many drawings inspired by it. The world of the Bengali villages stirred me. My 1986 exhibition, 'From Gitanjali to Pather Panchali', was my tribute to Ray's film.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I am extremely sorry I never took a photograph of Satyajit Ray. I have tremendous admiration for his work, and I enjoyed  speaking to him so much each time I met him that I completely forgot to take a snap. Please excuse me for being such a bad journalist!

Kashiko Kawakita

When I first saw Pather Panchali in 1956 at Cannes, it struck me like thunder. When I met Satyajit Ray in 1956 in Brussels, he looked like Krishna, the mighty God. Since then he has been my great master; through him and through his works I learned how to live and how to love.

 

Ben Kingsley

Satyajit Ray, I salute you. The greatest of our poets of the cinema

Yehudi Menuhin

Satyajit Ray is a great Indian who has contributed a new idiom to the cinema and brought us the wealth of a great civilisation we hardly knew anything about. We shall always remain indebted to him.

Lotte H. Eisner

Here is the discovery of the (Cannes) festival, Lament of the Road (Pather Panchali) from India. Here is great purity and surprising cinematic lyricism. It is one of those rare works in which nothing seems to happen, but where we feel that we are being given a piece of life itself, unembellished, where we see before our eyes people living their daily lives with their small joys and their great affliction… The director does not go looking for beautiful pictures, they come to him naturally. His people, who are not professional actors, have an extraordinary presence… Satyajit Ray, the Flaherty of Bengal, undertook this film back in 1952, along with a few friends, non-professional like himself, and an amateur photographer… It's a film worthy of a grand prize.

Adoor Gopalkrishnan

Apart from being one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, Ray is a most singular symbol of what is best and most revered in Indian cinema. I am proud that we, the Indian filmmakers of the present generation, are greatly indebted to Satyajit Ray for having taught us to look at the Indian reality in ways different and deeper than was ever attempted before.

Salman Rushdie

‘I can never forget the excitement in my mind after seeing it,' Akira Kurosawa said about Satyajit Ray's first film, Pather Panchali, and it's true, this movie, made from next to nothing, mostly with untrained actors, by a director who was learning (and making up) the rules as he went along, is a work of such lyrical and emotional force that it becomes, for its audiences, as potent as their most deeply personal memories.

Stanley Kauffman

To one who has seen Part One (of the Apu Trilogy), two things are now evident. The film now seems better than it did because the second was made, and the director, Mr. Ray, is in the process of creating a national film epic unlike anything in size and soul since the Soviet Maxim trilogy of 1938-40. Further, as a record of a people's life, in its daily travail and its largest aspects, it bears comparison with Flaherty's Nanook and Maona.

Vidia S. Naipaul

Satyajit Ray and Akira Kurosawa are among the most prodigious personalities in the cinema since it came into being. They are not, like the Americans, looking for a property. They are doing on film what the old novelists of the nineteenth century did. They are describing their societies, their cultures, in the modern medium. Their work hangs together; it's about their view of the world, being given in different ways at different times.

Ritwik Ghatak

Whatever I imagined thousand times and dreamt, Satyajit Ray had laboured hard to make it neatly. A tremendous and overwhelming difference which places him on the throne of the creator of our new age. No one will ever be able to displace him from there.

Time

Pather Panchali is perhaps the finest piece of filmed folklore since Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North. It is a pastoral poem dappled with the play of brilliant images and strong, dark feelings, a luminous revelation of Indian life in language that all the world can understand.

Darius Cooper

In film after film, he (Ray) investigates India's social institutions and the power structures to which they give rise, or vice versa. He works out, in concrete terms, the conflicts and issues of his times, both in his own state of Bengal and in the larger Indian nation.

Amartya Sen

The work of Satyajit Ray presents a remarkably insightful understanding of the relations between cultures, and his ideas remain pertinent to the great cultural debates in the contemporary world, not least in India.

Amitav Ghosh

Ray was for me, not just a great artist he was something even rarer. An artist who had crafted his life so that it could serve as an example to others. In a world where people in the arts are often expected, even encouraged, to be unmindful of those around them, he was exemplary in his dealings with people. This was, I think, one of the reasons why he was able to sustain his creative energies for as long as he did, because he refused to make a fetish of himself. As a student I had heard him speak on several occasions. It always seemed to me that there was something very private about his manner. I had the sense that it was by holding the world at arm's length that he had managed to be as productive as he had. This was a stance I respected then and respect even more today, now that I am more aware of how easy it is to be distracted by the demands of public life.

Robert Steel

When I did see (Pather Panchali) I was bowled over. Here was an Indian film that matched my concept of a film, and a great one at that. It was the first film made in India that I had ever seen which did not embarrass, annoy, or bore me.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Out of his great body of work, my own particular favourite is his film Charulata. Although he was such a superb visual artist, Ray's main inspiration was literary. He always wrote his own scripts (as well as directing them and composing his own original score!) and his greatest films were all adaptations of favourite novels and stories, including Charulata, which was based on a novella by Tagore. It doesn't seem to matter through what medium — novels, plays, films, music, the most potent influences reach us. All great works stimulate a hopeful emulation that ends occasionally, as in the films of Satyajit Ray, in radiant success ensuring the continuation of this business of influence and inspiration that makes us all try and try and try again.

Chidananda Das Gupta

For us in India, and especially in Bengal, the sense of the end of an era is overwhelming. For Ray represented a set of high moral values and large world view, at once deeply Indian and universal, that has sustained the best in Indian tradition through a series of great men of Indian Renaissance of the 19th and the 20th Centuries, of whom Ray was the last. What lends greater poignancy to our loss is that the ideals nurtured by these great men for nearly 200 years is in grave peril today.

Mrinal Sen

Sometime in April or May 1991, Satyajit Ray called me twice during the day. He called to remind us of a special screening (of Agantuk) being organised in a small theatre. When my wife and I got there, over a dozen shoulders, Ray saw us and greeted us with unusual warmth. He looked confident and serene. I could almost read his mind. He seemed to be saying, "You shall see, I have given my all!" Then, just before the 120 minute screening began, he looked at Utpal Dutt, his lead actor, and said with remarkable energy, "Utpal, do not forget what I told you." Then a meaningful pause. "Didn't I tell you that you are my protagonist?" he said. Possibly he meant more, perhaps ‘spokesman' which, allegedly, he did call Dutt in an interview. Deeply moved, Dutt bent down and touched his feet. Utpal Dutt bending down and touching his feet! Never seen before, never heard of. Never, ever. Unbelievable! We were amazed.

Robin Wood

Can we (the Western audience) feel any confidence that we are adequately understanding, intellectually and emotionally, works which are the product of a culture very different from our own?... What is remarkable is how seldom in Ray's films the spectator is pulled up by any specific obstacle arising from cultural differences... Ray is less interested in expressing ideas than in communicating emotional experience.

James Ivory -nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

Satyajit Ray is among the world's greatest directors, living or dead... Isn't it curious that the newest, the most modern of the arts, has found one of its deepest, most fluent expressions in the work of an artist like Ray, who must make his seamless films, many have been masterpieces, in a chaotic and volatile corner of one of the world's oldest cultures, amidst the most stringent shortages of today's advanced movie-making material and equipment? It would be fitting to honour this great man, who has influenced so many other

Pauline Kael

Like Renoir and De Sica, Ray sees that life itself is good no matter how bad it is. It is difficult to discuss art which is an affirmation of life, without fear of becoming maudlin. But is there any other kind of art, on screen or elsewhere? “In cinema” Ray says, “we must select everything for the camera according to the richness of its power to reveal.” Ray is sometimes (for us Westerners, and perhaps for Easterners also?) a little boring, but what major artist outside film and drama isn't? What he has to give us is so rich, so contemplative in approach (and this we are completely unused to in the film medium except perhaps in documentary), that we begin to accept our lapses of attention during the tedious moments with the same kind of relaxation and confidence and affection that we feel for the boring sketches in the great novels, the epic poems.

John Schlesinger, nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

His extraordinary body of work has not only greatly influenced so many filmmakers, but has profoundly affected their humanitarian attitude. The seeming  ‘simplicity’ of his films is the mark of a truly great master and I would be overjoyed if he were to be honoured by the Academy.

Elia Kazan nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

I want to add my voice to those of Scorsese and Merchant in asking the Academy grant Satyajit Ray an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. I have admired his films for many years and for me he is the filmic voice of India, speaking for the people of all classes of the country. He is the most sensitive and eloquent artist and it can truly be said in his case that when we honour him we are honouring ourselves.

George Lucas -nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

Satyajit Ray is an extraordinary filmmaker with a long and illustrious career who has had a profound influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world. By honouring  Satyajit Ray, the Academy will help bring his work to the attention of a larger public, particularly to young filmmakers, on whom his work will certainly have a positive effect.

Academy Award Citation, 1992

In recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.

Martin Scorsese -nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

 I was in high school and I happened to see Pather Panchali on television, dubbed in English, with commercials. It didn't matter. The images of the Indian culture we had had before, and I'm talking when I was 14 years old or 15 years old, were usually through colonialist eyes. And when Satyajit Ray did his films you suddenly  did not understand the culture because it was so complex but you became attached to the culture through the people, and it didn't matter what they were speaking, what they were wearing, what their customs were. Their customs were very, very interesting and surprising, and you suddenly began to realize there are other cultures in the world.

Lord Richard Attenborough -nominating Ray for Life Time Achievement Oscar, 1991

He did not give a damn about supposedly accepted tempo. Ray had the courage, knowledge and conviction to do it at the tempo and form he believed correct, that's why his films could be described as most beautiful pieces of compositions, poems.

By  Arup K. De

*Abridged. Reproduced from The Statesman

Wes Anderson, the Oscar-nominated director from Hollywood, was in India till early February 2007. He shot his latest film in sandy areas chosen by Satyajit Ray in 1973 to shoot part of his Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress), which was a great hit with children and grown-ups.

 

Anderson, a veteran of four films, came to India because he is a great admirer of Ray films. “Ray’s work has been an enormous influence on the movie I am making in Rajasthan,” said Anderson in an interview. “His films have inspired all my other movies, and I should dedicate the movie to him.”

 

Anderson’s maiden work, Bottle Rocket, found a place on the list of the best films of the 1990s by Martin Scorsese, the revered filmmaker who too happens to be a most ardent admirer of Ray’s. The Royal Tennanbaums, Anderson’s third film, received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.

“My main knowledge of Indian films is Ray's films,” Anderson said, “which I learned about from renting Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) on Betamax in my video store in Houston, when I was about fifteen. I also love Jean Renoir's The River,” he said, “Ray's films, along with The River and Louis Malle's documentaries, were essentially all I knew about India. I became somewhat obsessed with the India I learned about from those films.”

 

Anderson has been hooked on Ray ever since. “His films feel like novels to me. He draws you very close to his characters, and his stories are almost always about people going through a major internal transition. My favorites are the Pratidwandi (Calcutta trilogy of The Adversary), Seemabaddha (Company Limited), and Jana Aranya (The Middleman), which are very adventurous and inventive stylistically, and Aranyer Dinratri (Days and Nights in the Forest), which I relate to the kind of movies and books that completely captured my attention when I was a teenager, with soulful troublemakers as heroes. I think Charulata (The Lonely Wife) is one of his most beautiful films, and also Teen Kanya (especially The Postmaster) and the Apu films.”

 

One expected that Anderson would film part of the movie in Darjeeling. Anderson, however, fails to articulate exactly why he decided to shoot the whole film in Rajasthan. “We plan to shoot in the desert between Jodhpur and Jaisalmer (where some of Sonar Kella was set), and also in the hills around Udaipur. Why would be hard to say. Some of the story was written in the places where it is set,” he said.

 

He would like to fill the film with the music of Satyajit Ray, if he can. “I often take inspiration from music in how I shoot, and I listened to Ray's scores continuously during writing the script, and I have selected numerous cues that I think are perfect for my story.”

 

According to Martin Scorsese “Anderson has a fine sense of how music works against an image”. And Anderson said that "he, and in some places I have ideas to sculpt the scenes around the music rather than vice-versa.”

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