There are very few Indians who can lay a claim to Leonardo Da Vinci’s title of a Renaissance Man. Satyajit Ray would stand tall amongst those claimants. A film director, writer, illustrator, publisher, graphic designer and film critic, Satyajit Ray has left an indelible impression on whichever field he traversed. He was born into an illustrious Bengali family, who were renowned for their contribution to arts and literature on 2nd May, 1921. His formative years were spent in Shantiniketan under the guidance of the first Nobel laureate of India, Rabindra Nath Tagore.
Ray started his career as a junior visualiser, and in 1943 he started working with Signet Press as an illustrator. It was Ray who designed the covers of the world famous books, Man Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett and The Discovery of India by Jawahar Lal Nehru. It was around this time that he became deeply attached to movies, and after watching Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thieves, Ray was determined to go into the field of film making.
1955 saw the birth of a phenomenon in World Cinema, when Ray’s debut directorial venture Pather Panchali was released. With Aparajito and Apur Sansar making up the trilogy, Ray was lauded for his cinematic genius world-wide and received numerous awards all over the globe. With film-makers such as Jean Renoir and Akira Kurosawa aglow with his works Satyajit Ray entered into the ranks of the most elite film makers. He went on to produce 37 films which would include documentaries and short stories. Some of these films will remain glittering testimonials to the astuteness of this great film maker. Films such as Kanchenjunga, Charulata, Satranj ke Khiladi, Aranyer din Ratri, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Nayak explore all the facets of civilization and human sentiments in them. He was in a true sense, one of the greatest auteurs of modern cinema.
Ray also was an acclaimed fiction writer and one of the progenitors of detective fiction and science fiction. Feluda remains embossed in the hearts of every Indian who is a fan of detective stories. His love for science fiction was ensconced in a majority of his short stories. Indeed the beloved Spielberg classic E.T was based on a Ray short story “Bankubabur Bandhu”. In addition to this Ray published works on film criticism and was also the publisher of the famous Bengali magazine for children “Sandesh”. Ray was a brilliant illustrator and designed four Roman typefaces in addition to countless Bengali ones.
He received 32 National Awards, numerous international awards such as the Golden Lion and the Silver Bear and to crown them all the Honorary Oscar in 1992 during his lifetime. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratna by India and the Legion of Honor by France. He died on 23rd April, 1992 putting Indian Cinema on the forefront of world audiences and giving a new direction to contemporary film makers across the globe.
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Photo Credits: Satyajitray.org, ambarish.com, dvdbeaver.com.
And a special thanks to etymofreak.