Satyajit Ray, unarguably one of India’s finest filmmakers, continues to inspire movie makers through his films, books and short stories. The multi-talented personality was a screenwriter, graphic artist, music composer and an author. In his career spanning over four decades, Satyajit Ray won 32 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, a Golden Bear, 2 Silver Bears and was honoured with Academy Honorary Award in 1992. In the same year, he was honoured with the highest civilian award in India i.e. the Bharat Ratna.
Satyajit Ray is celebrated for his earnest contribution to the film industry through his masterpiece creations on celluloid such as Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Teen Kanya, Nayak, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Sonar Kella, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Hirak Rajar Deshe and Ghare Baire.
Today, the world celebrates his 97th birth anniversary and to commemorate this day, here we list out his five best films, which are a must watch for all the movie lovers.
Consisting of Panther Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar – Ray talks about three different stages in the protagonist Apu’s life. The childhood in rural West Bengal, the student days in Calcutta, and the protagonist’s worldly responsibilities once he gets married respectively. All brilliant movies!
Shatranj Ke Khilari
Shatranj Ke Khilari was the first Hindi film directed by Satyajit Ray. The film was based on Munshi Premchand’s short story of the same name and featured acting stalwarts like Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi, David Abraham and Tom Alter. Amitabh Bachchan was the narrator of the film. It was set in 1856 and showcased the life of two wealthy persons devoted to chess and presented the scenario between East India company and Awadh. The film was the official entry from India for Oscars but failed to receive the nomination.
Charulata, also known as The Lonely Wife, was based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novel named Nastanirh (The Broken Nest). Actress Madhabi Mukherjee played the central character in the film. It showcases the emotional journey of Charulata surrounded by the society. The film is still relevant in the current scenario. Post its release, Charulata won two national awards including best film and best director.
Pather Panchali is undoubtedly one of the cinematic masterpieces of the Indian film industry. The film depicts the childhood of lead actor Subir Banerjee and his elder sister played by Uma Dasgupta and their harsh and poor conditions in the village. The drama film was produced by Government of Bengal and had won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.
Starring Sharmila Tagore and Soumitra Chatterji, Ray comments on blind religious beliefs and idol worship in this film. In the film, due to certain circumstances people of the village start believing that Sharmila Tagore is anavtaar of a Goddess.
In 1992, Ray’s health deteriorated due to heart complications. He was admitted to a hospital, but never recovered. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an Honorary Academy Award. He is the first and the only Indian to receive the honour. Twenty four days before his death, Ray accepted the award in a gravely ill condition. He died in April 1992 at the age of 71.
We bow down to you Mr. Satyajit Ray!