Jagmohan Singh Barhok
Kolkata, one of the four Metros, is situated on the bank of river Hugli, is also famous the world over for Howrah Bridge. It is one of the busiest ports and has been a centre of Indian film industry after partition until 1960s.The city boasts of many luminaries the likes of Ravindra Nath Tagore, Subhash Chander Bose, Khudi Ram Bose, and mathematician Satyendra Nath Bose, eminent novelists and authors- Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra including many film personalities the likes of Amiya Chakravarty, Rithwik Ghatak ,Nitin Bose ,Mrinal Sen ,Uttam Kumar, Utpal Dutt, Aparna Sen, Suchitra Sen ,Kanan Devi, Soumitra Chatterjee, Punkaj Mullick & Satyajit Ray, the subject of this write up, to mention some.
Bestowed with an Honorary Oscar in 1992 by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ,Satyajit Ray is a name synonymous with making purposeful films for the existing society ,highlighting social ,cultural & moral aspects with aplomb .His “Shatranj Ke Khiladi” ( 1977), was a masterpiece featuring two chess addicts during the period Nawab Wajid Ali Shah ruled Lucknow.In the film Amhad Khan played Wajid Ali Shah while Richard Attenborough did the role of General Outram They were portrayed as significant as Mirza Sajjad Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Meer Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey), the two Chess addicts. The film was made on a story by Munshi Prem Chand, noted Hindi stroy writer.
Ray made another film titled ” The Home & The World” ( 1984)on a novel written by Rabindranath Tagore.It is a simple story of two friends ,their friendship & love. Victor Bannerjee plays Nikhilesh, the maharaja while his friend’s role is done by Soumitra Chatterjee who was former’s class mate. The latter joins the maharaja to promote his political career. Maharaj’s wife Bimala Chaudhury( Swatilekha Sengupta) develops a liking for him owing to his persuasive & impressive is language. They get amorously involved. The story is reminiscent of Ray’s earlier film made way back in 1964 titled “
Charulata” featuring Soumitra Chatterjee , Syamal Ghosal, & Madhabi Mukherjee. Many things were common in both films. Both were based on stories by Rabindranath Tagore, the Noble laureate. Both films revolves round a childless married woman who falls for a persuasive speaking visitor, Saumitra Chatterjee ,while her husband watches the scene from the side lines as a passive spectators
.In the later film the woman ,who was earlier confined to her ‘palace chamber’, gets an opportunity to meet the visitor & supports his ‘swadeshi movement’, too, despite her husband’s disapproval. She even steals gold coins from the safe to lend a supporting hand .The film was made on a lavish canvass & it is very difficult to present each aspect or scene here. However ,I tried to part with reasonably good information to readers. Interestingly ,in both the films the woman returns to her husband as was also shown in B.R.Chopra’s 1963 film “Gumraah” featuring Ashok Kumar, Mala Sinha & Sunil Dutt.
It would be injustice if we did not mention his earlier films starting with the most talked about “Pather Panchali”( 1955),followed by “Aprajito” ( 1956),”Apur Sansar” ( 1959) & “Devi” ( 1960.
Ray’s accolades include 32 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, a Golden Bear, 2 Silver Bears, many other awards at international film festivals and ceremonies. The Government of India honoured him with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, in 1992. Ray enjoyed an envious status worldwide as a movie maker who had a class of his own. The noted director , playright ,producer, magazine editor and music composer, Satyajit Ray was born to Sukumar Ray and Suprabha Ray, this day in 1921,hundred years ago.