Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen: The Fathers of Bengali Cinema



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Satyajit Ray:

Ray considered the script to be of primary importance to the art of direction. At the beginning of his career, Satyajit Ray refused to make movies in any language other than Bengali. Even in his two non-Bengali features, he initially wrote the script in English and had it translated to Hindu or Urdu under his watchful gaze.

Satyajit Ray also had a very keen eye for detail, and introduced a number of innovations to how cinema was made India. Along with his cinematographer Subrata Mitra, Ray developed a technique called ‘bouncing light’, which used a cloth to reflect light, thus creating a diffused, realistic light even on the sets.

Satyajit Ray used noted Indian Classical Musicians like Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Vilayat Khan and Pt. Ali Akbar Khan for the scores in his films. His deep understanding of Western Classical Forms, which he used while depicting urban life, fused with the compositions of the maestros to create a hitherto unheard soundscape in Indian Cinema.

Ritwik Ghatak:

Ghatak was the maverick. He stood outside the bubble of Indian Commercial Cinema. He was a neo-realist, in craft and theory. He concentrated on the struggles of the ordinary man, and most of his works deal with the trauma of partition, which he was personally unable to get over.

The act of making a movie did not stop at the means for him. It was a path to serving the mass he thought, and the only way the less than privileged could express their anger and suffering.

Mrinal Sen:

Mrinal Sen was the initiator of the ‘New Cinema’ film movement in India. He was a Marxist artist, and sometimes was criticized of being overtly political. He sought to portray the duality of the middle class through his movies.

Also, Kolkata played a large role in his movies, and he wove the people, value and class system, and the very roads of the city into his movies.



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Satyajit Ray:

Ray, apart from his 32 National Film Awards, also won multiple Silver Bear’s for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival, and to this day, remains one of the only three directors to do so. He won a Golden Lion for Aparajito at the Venice Film Festival, along with the Golden Lion Honorary Award in 1982. In the very same year, he received an honorary ‘Hommage a Satyajit Ray’ award at the Cannes Film Festival. He also received an Oscar posthumously, for Lifetime Achievement in 1992.

Ritwik Ghatak:

The curse of the off-stream caught Ghatak, as his films were not as widely accepted or understood because of the themes he dealt with, and how he portrayed them. Nevertheless, he was awarded a Padmashree by the Government of India, and Ajantrik got a special entry at the Venice Film Festival.

Mrinal Sen:

Mrinal sen was a large number of awards, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film 4 times, 3 Filmfare Awards, and a host of international honours at prestigious Film Festivals like Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Berlin and Cannes.



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Satyajit Ray:

Satyajit Ray is a cultural icon in India, and in Bengali communities internationally. After his death, Kolkata in its entirety came to a standstill. He influenced a large portion of all of India’s directors that came after him, from Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh to Vishal Bharadwaj and Shyam Benegal. Beyond these shores, acclaimed directors like Martin Scorcese Francis Ford Coppola, Abbas Kiarostami, Francois Truffaut, Carlos Saura, Wes Anderson and Danny Boyle have also claimed influence from Satyajit Ray.

Ritwik Ghatak:

Ritwik Ghatak was followed by the students and intelligentsia, not by the masses. He pre-empted quite a few internationally important movies with regards to the content they manufactured, like Nagarik preceded Pather Panchali as an Art Film, or Bari Theke Paliye, which had a similar plot to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, but released a year earlier, or Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, which is one of the earliest movies in a hyperlink format, and predated Robert Altman’s Nashville.

Mrinal Sen:

Mrinal Sen was one of the greatest ambassadors from India on the Global Stage for parallel cinema, and formed a strong cog against the traditional fare of mainstream Hindi Cinema in India.