DIRECTOR - Satyajit Ray
Was voted the 25th Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
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|SirPant's Rating||My Rating|
Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) 1955, Unrated)
Pather Panchali has got to be the most impressive directional debut of all time, by anyone's standards. It's realism makes it even more heartbreaking, it's beauty and tenderness is unsurpassed. There are directors who are capable and know how to tell a good story and there are directors who are capable and know how to tell a great story and this is a great film. Most great films are remembered for one or two great scenes, Pather Panchali is great scene followed by great scene. Every Cinephile needs to watch the three films back to back at least once.
Aparajito 1956, Unrated)
Aparajito explores the transit into adolescence of Apu and raises question of religion. If the first film explored the idea of family, the second film one concentrates on faith and priority. Apu shuns the priesthood, his Fathers profession that kept him away from his family for so long and wins a scholarship to go to school which in turn takes him away from his family. The final scene is even more heartbreaking than the first film's but it is wonderfully handled. The issues raised are universal ones which is probably why the films have global appeal but there is something magical about Ray's films that make the ordinary somewhat magical.
Parash Pathar (Paras-Pathar) 1958, Unrated)
Jalsaghar (The Music Room) 1958, Unrated)
A beautifully directed tale of an old man whose stubbornness and pride have got the better of him. Chhabi Biswas plays the Landlord well, a man who is the last of his kind who is too reluctant to move with the times to the point where it drives him mad, the only pleasure he has left is his music. Ray's description of the film is of the 'deteriorating life of an old country nobleman' and one can easily feel sympathy for the character. That is until you see the levels of luxury is is used to and the very little he does to earn it. It's a brilliant story of contrast and a melancholy look at the passing of time and tradition. The music and extended dancing scenes are great.
Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) 1960, Unrated)
Life comes full circle for Apu in Apur Sansar as he becomes a Father to a little boy who is very much his Father's Son. The third and final installment of the Apu story focuses on identity and responsibility. Again, Apu has to make difficult decisions and doesn't always make the best choices but for any dip in the middle of the film (and it does dip a little) all is made up for in the wonderful, and for once, heartwarming final conclusion. Watch the Trilogy back to back, go on, treat yourself!
Devi (The Goddess) 1960, Unrated)
Teen Kanya (Two Daughters) (Three Daughters) 1961, Unrated)
Kanchenjunga 1962, Unrated)
Abhijaan (The Expedition) 1962, Unrated)
Mahanagar (The Big City) (The Great City) 1967, Unrated)
Mahanagar is probably my favorite Satyajit Ray so far. It really is a slice of the times and just shows how things were changing in the world. It is an honest account of emancipation but also of a changing economic climate and a change of what was expected. Ever member of the family has a reaction to something we take for granted these days. It's part kitchen sink drama and part historical document, it's somewhere between Ozu's Late Spring and Aki Kaurismäki's Drifting Clouds. The ending is so heartwarming and so positive it really makes for a joyous conclusion.
Charulata 1964, Unrated)
Like the synopsis says '...the film, based on a popular Indian novel, marks a significant point in Ray's career, as it bears the influence of Western film on his directorial style.' This was obvious to me from the onset and unfortunately not a good thing in my opinion. I've seen a few Ray films since though and it seems that it is short lived. I found the over dramatic ending to be quite hard to swallow and it certainly took away from my overall enjoyment. A good film but certainly not the best from Satyajit Ray but then he set his own standards very high.
Mahapurush (The Saint) 1965, Unrated)
This is a very funny film from Satyajit Ray, poking fun at fake Gurus and people who get sucked in by them. The script is brilliant and the players are all on top form. Charuprakash Ghosh and Robi Ghosh steal the show though as the charlatans, especially in the last scene where they do a runner after one of their 'performances' goes wrong - Robi Ghosh runs out dressed as Shiva, complete with an extra pair of arms, laden with hand-bags - 'Your not so useless after all' Quips his boss Birinchi Baba. Brilliant film, definitely worth seeking out!
Kapurush (The Coward) 1965, Unrated)
Nayak (Nayak: The Hero) 1974, Unrated)
In Nayak, Satyajit Ray explores the perils of success and being true to ones self through the journey (and an actual journey) of an actor. There is an undercurrent of 'Beware false idols about the film which is filmed and acted perfectly. The stand out scene has to be the fantastic dream sequence where our hero finds himself in mountains of money with many skeletons with telephones. And yes, It's as bonkers and brilliant as it sounds.
The Zoo (Chiriyakhana) 1967, Unrated)
Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne 1968, Unrated)
Aranyer Din Ratri (Days and Nights in the Forest) 2003, Unrated)
The Adversary (Pratidwandi) (Siddharta and the City) 1972, Unrated)
Sikkim 1971, Unrated)
Ashani Sanket (Distant Thunder) 1973, Unrated)
Seemabaddha, (Company Limited) 1971, Unrated)
Sonar Kella: The Golden Fortress 1974, Unrated)
The Middleman (Jana Aranya) 1975, Unrated)
The Chess Players (Shatranj Ke Khiladi) 1978, Unrated)
Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) 1978, Unrated)
An thoroughly enjoyable crime caper with likable good-guys and dastardly bad-guys. The story is very Agatha Christie, Ray is obviously a big Christie fan, he even mentions her in the film but the back-drop and humour is very much Satyajit Ray and it certainly stands as one of his films. Soumitra Chatterjee is very suave as his role as Detective Feluda but it's Santosh Dutta as Lalmohan Ganguly who really steals the show (although Utpal Dutt as Maganlal Meghraj comes a very close second). Overall, a very enjoyable film with universal appeal. Highly recommended!
Heerak Rajar Deshe (The Kingdom of Diamonds) 1980, Unrated)
Sadgati 1981, Unrated)
Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) 1984, Unrated)
An Enemy of the People (Ganashatru) 1989, Unrated)
Shakha Proshakha (Branches of the Tree) 1991, Unrated)
Agantuk (The Stranger) 2003, Unrated)
Unfortunately, I found Satyajit Ray's final film Agantuk (The Stranger) pretty disappointing. It is the script that I found weakest, with the philosophical questions raised sounding pointless and nonsensical. The premise is basically is this man who he says he is but with only two outcomes of no particular interest or consequence, the conclusion falls a little flat. Also, why does everyone have to stand up when they talk, I don't think its a cultural thing and no one does it in his earlier films. It just feels like over acting.