Childhood days

Posted: December 2, 2015 in Books, Satyajit Ray


I am unsure as to why the book has been titled as Childhood days. In fact, there are two aspects in the book   the first of course relates to the childhood days of the filmmaker which is roughly about 80 pages. One gets a glimpse of the curious mind of the remarkably talented personality through the narration, albeit a tad heavy on the personal details some of which is quite uninteresting to a lay reader. The second part which tells about the experiences of the filmmaker is quite informative for a film buff and outlines the pains and hardship entailed in the filmmaking process.

The second part is about 85-90 pages. The film experiences that have been mentioned are the films which involved ‘outdoor shooting’ mostly, and ‘Pather Panchali’ (shot in Boral, a village near Kolkata), ‘Goopy Gane Bagha Byne’ & ‘Sonar Kella’ (Jaiselmer) & “Joy Baba Felunath” & “Aparajito’ (Varanasi) gets highlighted. Just to shoot a particular shot often takes days for a filmmaker – an 8-10 hours of grueling shooting in a day can result in just 3 minutes of screen time. Isn’t that incredulous?

The redeeming feature of the book is obviously the details about the lesser known actors like Kamu Mukherjee who had a great sense of humor, actors and technicians who have been associated with Ray for a long period. How Ray tackled royalty (like the Maharaja of Jodhpur) or the swelling crowds, how often to shoot a particular sequence Ray had to wait for a year (like the train sequence in Pather Panchali), how he improvised on sequences like in ‘Goopy Gayne Bagha Byne’ where in a particular sequence Goopy & Bagha were transported from a snowy land(Shimla) to a desert(Jaiselmer) which Ray filmed in a reverse mode with Goopy & Bagha actually falling from a tree and when played in reverse it appeared they jumped up and landed on a tree finds its way into the book. Noted cinematographer Subrata Mitra innovated bounce lighting during the shooting of Ray’s APARAJITO.

The second part deserves a 4-pointer, the first a two out of five.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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