Friday, February 3, 2023

The Master’s cinema is multilayered: Ashoke Viswanathan on Ray’s centenary year celebration

Himalayan paths

Mail News Service

Jamshedpur, June 30: “Satyajit Ray’s cinema is multilayered and has the potential to be read and talked about again and again. That is why he continues to be regarded as one of the greatest directors that cinema has ever produced,” observed keynote speaker and Dean of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), Kolkata.

Himself an erudite filmmaker with four National Awards including one for his debut directorial venture, ‘Shunyo Thekey Shuru,’ Ashoke Viswanathan has picked up several more international recognitions for his creative genius on the celluloid format. In his hour long foray into the life and work of The Master as part of the Satyajit Ray Centenary Year celebrations hosted online by Society for Promotion of Art and Culture (SPARC) at Karim City College recently, Ashoke delved into Ray’s family background, his early years including migrating from East Bengal (now Bangladesh), his Shanti Niketan and England study trips right upto the glory he brought to Indian and world cinema.

In the process of deconstructing some of Satyajit Ray’s immortal classics including the Apu triology, Charulata, Nayak, Pratdwandi, Shatranj ke Khiladi among others, Viswanathan averred, “Ray’s honest presentation of milieu, realistic etching and portrayal of characters and situations and open conclusions make his cinema unique. I may venture to suggest that Satyajit Ray was influenced by Italian neo realistic cinema of the 1950s but it is beyond doubt that he himself has influenced many international directors and the lineage continues to grow. I would specially mention Iranian cinema in the Ray genre in the context that they are minimalist in nature.”

While discussing Satyajit Ray’s strong and progressive portrayal of women in his characters a la ‘Charulata,’ the SRFTI Dean and Senior Professor stated, “His heroines were always assertive. They have an aura of urgency in them and this has been recognised internationally by connoisseurs and movie buffs alike.”

Ashoke Viswanathan brought out another interesting facet of Ray’s filmmaking procedure. “He used to sketch every frame, every character and costume before going in for takes. He was meticulous and did not have any pretension. He ‘told’ the story as he saw it and people read it well and thoroughly. That is why he was, is and forever will be The Master Filmmaker who was also popular for his short stories and his ever popular detective series, ‘Feluda,’ and scientist Professor Shonku. He left his Midas mark on whatever he chose to touch.”

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