Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Suchitra Sen by Shoma Chaterji

Posted: February 23, 2016 in Books, Suchitra Sen

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Manik and I

Posted: January 21, 2016 in Books, Satyajit Ray

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The book is a result of the diary maintained by the wife of the renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray for over four decades. A 600 page book can be quite daunting but what makes it engaging is the easy style of the author. This is quite a personalized account.

The initial 100 pages or so dwell on the family background, the bloosoming of a romantic relationship between the author and her close relation who became her husband and was destined to become India’s most famous filmmaker internationally. This segment also recount their travel throughout Europe and how Satyajit Ray gave up a stable career in advertising to concentrate on his passion – filmmaking.

Unless you’re a big Ray devotee and willing to lap up every titbits on the lives and the happenings in the illustrious Ray family, the book can be rather uninteresting for a more serious film buff. For example, there is no mention of what Ray thought of other filmmakers except a passing reference to Ritwik Ghatak’s brilliance on the occasion of passing away of Ghatak . We do know that Ray wrote a book OUR FILMS THEIR FILMS wherein he discusses that the book in question eschews that totally.

The book is littered with effusive praises showered on her husband barring a single mention of a relationship Ray had with a well-known actress which left the author deeply scarred.
One can discover several interesting facts though – that Ray once contemplated to make a film based on the childhood of Mozart, that once renowned director Buddhadeb Dasgupta turned his 15-minute interview session with Ray into an affair lasting more than three hours and which eventually caused Ray a heart attack ….

What comes through the pages was that Ray was quite a family man who loved his wife and son and during his last days his grandson dearly. He travelled extensively across the globe attending film festivals and receiving honors galore from various foreign universities.

It is also amazing to read that India’s most famous filmmaker didn’t have enough money to buy a house for himself and his family. Ray suffered greatly during his last few years on account of his failing health.

The last few pages are quite touching especially where Ray on realization that he would be gone and unable to find strength to converse kisses his son Sandip affectionately – a muted expression of farewell from his loved ones.

Overall one does get a glimpse into the life of the celebrated filmmaker and his artistic celluloid journey.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Childhood days

Posted: December 2, 2015 in Books, Satyajit Ray

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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

Encyclopedia of Indian cinema

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Books

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