Satyajit Ray was born on May 2, 1921 in Calcutta to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray.In 1948, he married Bijoya Das, a former actress/singer who also happened to be his cousin.
Politics of Vision: Satyajit Ray and His Cinema
Robinson and Sragow are among a host of Western admirers who have attempted to understand Ray’s art in the idiom they know and in the categories they are comfortable with. It is commonly assumed that Ray, artistic and somewhat off-beat, must have emerged from India’s long and prolific motion picture tradition which is as old as any. In India, Ray was initially dismissed, especially in Bollywood, as a peddler of poverty, and as someone who made low budget features with the foreign markets, international film festivals and awards in mind.
Education of a Filmmaker :
Ray was born in 1921 to a distinguished family of artists, litterateurs, musicians, scientists and physicians. His grandfather Upendra Kishore was an innovator, a writer of children’s story books (popular to this day), an illustrator and a musician. His father, Sukumar, trained as a printing technologist in England, was also Bengal’s most beloved nonsense-rhyme writer, illustrator and cartoonist. He died young when Satyajit was two and a half years old. Ray’s mother, Suprabha, raised him as a single parent. They lived with Suprabha’s brother’s family and with his paternal uncles. He was much adored and “coddled” as a child and hence the nickname “Manik,” or “jewel” in Bengali.
Pather Panchali :
In 1950, Satyajit Ray was asked by a major Calcutta publisher to illustrate a children’s edition of Pather Panchali, Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee’s semi-autobiographical novel. On his way back from London, with little to do on a two-week boat journey, Ray ended up sketching the entire book. These formed the kernel and the essential visual elements in the making of Pather Panchali, Ray’s very first film and the film that brought him instant international recognition and fame. At the Cannes Film Festival, in 1956, Ray received in absentia, the Best Human Document Award for this hauntingly beautiful film, its carefully executed details of joys and sorrows in the life of a little boy named Apu in a tiny village in Bengal in the 1920s. Instant fame, however, did not bring in its wake instant fortune.
Selfhood of Satyajit Ray :
Satyajit Ray received many labels in his lifetime — most of them admiring, adulatory, some critical. Critics and scholars have marveled at his craftsmanship, mastery of detail and storytelling techniques. He has been called the last Bengali renaissance man, the inheritor and an exemplar of the Tagore tradition, a classic chronicler of changes being wrought in a traditional society, a humanist, an internationalist and a modernist. All these can be defended and debated.
Ray’s films illumined lives. No one made films on such diverse subjects before him the way he did; and it remains to be seen whether another director would do so in the future. Whatever Ray was, it is impossible, as he said himself, to label him or put him in a pigeonhole.