Ray, Satyajit

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ray, Satyajit

Satyajit Ray (sätyä´jĬt rī, rā), 1921–92, Indian film director, b. Calcutta (now Kolkata). His subtle, austere, and delicately lyrical films made him one of the outstanding filmmakers of the 20th cent.; he was the first Indian director to win international acclaim. During his formative years he was profoundly influenced by the humanism of Rabindranath Tagore, at whose university he studied. Ray began his career as a layout artist, art director, and illustrator. His early reputation was built on a trilogy of luminous neorealist films that portrayed the everyday life of a Bengali family and the childhood, youth, and manhood of a character called Apu. Pather Panchali (1955), his first film, was an immediate success and a Grand Prix winner at the Cannes Festival. It was followed by Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu (1959). The films of this "Apu Trilogy" remain his best known works.

Ray's recurrent themes—the life of Bengal's various social classes, the conflict of old and new values, and the effects of India's rapidly changing economic and political conditions—are evident throughout his oeuvre. His more than 30 films include The Music Room (1958), Charulata (1964), The Target (1972), Distant Thunder (1973), The Home and the World (1984), The Visitor (1991), and The Stranger (1992). Over the years, he received many prizes, including an Academy Award for lifetime achievement (1992). Ray was also a screenwriter, wrote the musical scores for many of his films, and was intimately involved with all the elements of their production.

Bibliography

See his essays, Our Films, Their Films (1995); M. Seton, Portrait of a Director: Satyajit Ray (1971); S. Benegal, Benegal on Ray (1988); B. Nyce, Satyajit Ray: A Study of His Films (1988); A. Robinson, Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye (1989); B. Sarkar, The World of Satyajit Ray (1992); and N. Ghosh, Satyajit Ray at 70 (1993).

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