One of the most renowned directors of our times, Satyajit Ray had very humble cinematic beginnings with his film ‘Pather Panchali’. The name of the movie that translates to ‘Song of the road’ in English was an acknowledgement to the fact that the movie was funded by the government of West Bengal, with ‘road development’ funds.
The soundtrack of the film was composed by the sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was at an early stage of his career. Eventually, Satyajit Ray went on to become one of the greatest film directors of Contemporary Cinema. Satyajit Ray became the first (and currently only) Indian to receive an Honorary Academy Award in 1992.
His initial years of higher education were spent in University of Calcutta, where he majored in economics and minored in physics. He then went to Shantiniketan, that had been started by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He initially refused to go there due to his love for Calcutta, but his mother’s persuasion and his respect for Tagore finally convinced him to try
Satyajit Ray received the Academy Award (Oscar) in the year 1992 while lying on the hospital bed, where he was admitted after a stroke. A three-member delegation from the Oscar committee visited him there on March 16.
In his Oscar acceptance speech Ray attributed everything he knew about the Art of Film Making to American Films and Hollywood. He called his Oscar his greatest achievement. Sadly, he passed away a month later, after one of the greatest moments in the cinematic history of India.
He once remarked ‘When I write an original story I write about people I know first-hand and situations I’m familiar with. I don’t write stories about the nineteenth century.’
Satyajit Ray’s cinema is still celebrated worldwide and is taken as reference in leading film schools globally.