Glimpses from Satyajit Ray’s life

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One can get a peek into the Bharatratna and Oscar Award winner’s life at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on Palace Road, where slew of photographs by Nemai Ghosh titled, “Satyajit Ray: From Script to Screen”, are on display. They are on display till November 27th of this month.

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One of Satyajit Ray’s photographs displayed at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Pic: Deepa Vaishnavi

It is said, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’ This is indeed the case with these photographs which have been selected from over tens of thousands of photographs taken over a period of 25 years. Being all black and  white enhances the charm of the pictures. And when one reads the few aptly chosen words describing each photograph, they almost leap to life. One would literally be transported to the event / occasion that were captured on film all those years ago: be it the photograph of Satyajit Ray directing actors on the Ghats of Banaras or the look of glee on his face after a successful recording or even the drawings of the scene that is to be shot for a film.

On display are various photographs of Manikda, (as he was known) in different stages of shooting of his various films like Asani Sanket (Distant Thunder), The Inner Eye, The Adversary,  Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God), Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players), The Stranger (Agantuk), The Home and the World, Seemabaddha (Company Limited), Sonar Kella (Golden Fortress), Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People), Shakha Proshakha (Branches of the Tree), Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest) and so on. Each photograph captures one facet of the master at work.

Most of the films mentioned above were shot in different locales in India. Be it Lucknow, Halla Palace, New Delhi Gallery, Kolkata Race Course, Banaras Ghats, Chhattisgarh, Shanthiniketan, Pokhran – Rajasthan or Gangtok.

The following films which would be screened at 11 AM and 3 PM at NGMA Auditorium during the period of the exhibition:

• Satyajit Ray Negatives – My life with Manikda
The Inner Eye (English)  panorama of films on the wonder this is India
Satyajit Ray (Part – I) by Shyam Benegal
Satyajit Ray (Part – II) by Shyam Benegal

The exhibition is open to the public from 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM on all days except Mondays.

One can also find photographs of artists like Sharmila Tagore, Sounitra Chatterjee, Utpal Datt, Swalitikha Sengupta, Barun Chandra, Jenniffer Kapoor, Victor Banerjee, Smitha Patil and Simi Garewal. Some of these actors can also be seen in the films on Satyajit Ray that are being shown at NGMA as a part of this exhibition.

Manikda, considered by many as a perfectionist, would associate himself in all stages of filming including script writing, score sheet, song rehearsing and  recording, costume sketches, shot treatment, set designing, etc. This is evident in the photographs. Worth checking out is the section that includes sketches of dresses for a film, music composition, and the detailed list of props required for the study of a British General Outram (a character in Shatranj ke Khilari).

One does not need to have seen Satyajit Ray’s movies in order to ‘understand’ the photographs. For these photographs  weave an intricate story of the man and the master story teller that Satyajit Ray was.  Well worth a dekko.

Do take the time out and visit NGMA within the next few days. You would walk away in awe of a person you have probably never met. And probably with the reinforced conviction, you might come out with the thought that works of great men and women live on much after they themselves have passed on.  


About Deepa Vaishnavi 20 Articles
Deepa Vaishnavi is a Soft-Skills Trainer and freelance writer.