Skip to main content

Satyajit Ray Season

Two decades ago Satyajit Ray received an Academy Award for his Lifetime Achievement just before his death in Calcutta. Since then India has become vastly wealthier. But the director’s films have lost none of their power, humanity, humour and topicality for both Indians and the world.

The key to understanding the appeal of Satyajit Ray’s body of work is that the director himself, though intimately rooted in Bengal, was also immersed in western culture: European and Hollywood films, of course, but also literature, art and music. One of his most admired films, Charulata, was directly inspired by his love of Mozart’s operas.

As a filmmaker, Ray was entirely self-educated, except for a brief period helping Jean Renoir, who had come from Hollywood to make The River. The strongest influence on his first film, Pather Panchali, was seeing the neo-realist classic, Bicycle Thieves, in London in 1950: ‘It gored me,’ said Ray.

Ray’s films cover an exceptional range of moods and genres: from the epic tragedy of the Apu Trilogy to the black comedy of The Middle Man. But what makes Ray virtually unparalleled is his versatility. He wrote his scripts solo, and they were often original screenplays. He designed the sets and costumes down to the smallest details. He acted out the roles for his actors with consummate nuance. He operated the camera and he edited each frame. He composed the music, scoring it in a mixture of western and Indian notation. He even designed the credits and posters.

Words by Andrew Robinson.

Don’t miss an opportunity to see the subtle yet moving works by this visionary Indian director.

For more information about the season, or to book tickets, click here.