Exactly fifty years ago, in 1955, the release of Pather Panchali heralded the arrival of a master in the world of cinema. Over the next forty years, Satyajit Ray came to be regarded as one of the world's finest film-makers ever. Today, more than a decade after his death, the continues to be India's respected name in international film circles.
Apart from his achievements as a director, Ray was also a prolific writer of novels, short stories, and essays on cinema. Speaking of Films brings together some of Ray's most memorable writings on film and film-making. With the masterly precision and clarity that characterize his films, Ray discusses a wide array of subjects: the structure and language of cinema with special reference to his adaptation of Tagore and Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, the appropriate use of background music and dialogue in films, the relationship between a film-maker and a film critic, and important developments in cinema like the advent of sound and colour. He also writes about his own experiences, the challenges of working with rank amateurs, and the innovations called for when making a film in the face of technological, financial and logistical constraints. In the process, Ray provides fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses of the people who worked with him - the intricacies of getting Chhabi Biswas, who had no ear for music, to play a patron of classical music in Jalsaghar; the incredible memory of the seventy-five-year-old Chunibala Devi, Indir Thakrun of Pather Panchali, and her remarkable attention to details.
This first-ever translation of Bishay Chalachitra, a seminal collection of essays on cinema, Speaking of Films retains the lucidity and simplicity that is a hallmark of Ray's writing, and gives an invaluable insight into the mind of a genius.
About the Author :
Satyajit Ray (1921-92) was one of the greatest film-makers of his time. Starting with Pather Panchali, which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival and established Ray as a director of international stature, Ray made such all-time classics as Aparajito, Apur Sansar, Charulata, Ashani Sanket, Kanchanjungha, Aranyer Din Ratri, Ghare Baire and Agantuk. He also made several documentaries, including one on Tagore and another on his father Sukumar Ray, Bengal's most famous writer of nonsense verse and children's books. Both the British Federation of Film Societies and the Moscow Film Festival Committee named Ray one of the greatest directors of the second half of the twentieth century. In 1992, he was awarded the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and, in the same year, was also honoured with the Bharat Ratna.
Ray was also a writer of repute, and his short stories, novellas, poems and articles, written in Bengali, have been immensely popular ever since they first began to appear in the children's magazine Sandesh in 1961. He has published several books in Bengali, most of which became best-sellers. He is also the author of Our Films, Their Films and Bishay Chalachitra, both immensely popular books of essay on cinema.
Gopa Majumdar has translated several works from Bengali to English, the most notable of these being Ashapurna Debi's Subarnalata and Bihuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay's Aparajito, for which she won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2001. She has translated several volumes of Satyajit Ray's short stories and all of the Feluda stories for Penguin Books India.
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