Tag Archives: Satyajit Ray

Pather Panchali Review

Pather Panchali Review – Pather Panchali is a Bengali drama directed by Satyajit Ray, released in 1955. The movie is based on the novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay by the same name. This was also Satyajit Ray’s directorial debut. The story revolves around a poor family in the rural area of West Bengal. It is the journey of the family struggling to make the ends meet.

This movie is now a landmark in the history of Indian Cinema. Ray took the film to outdoors and started the trend of realistic movies in Indian Cinema. The movie introduced many legends to Indian Cinema. It took 3 years to make the movie due to funding issues. If you are interested in the journey of the making of the movie then read the article Song of the Little Road from this site. Thanks to Bangalore International Film Festival, I was able to enjoy this movie on a big screen in Gold Class.

The movie is very engaging from the start. Given the limitations of the technology and challenges in lighting the output still brilliant. Ray paints the picture of the family in the rural area. The household set has been brilliantly designed and is utilized to the maximum. There is a scene in which the mother pushes her daughter out of the house and closes the door. Through the hole in the wall, Ray has captured both the characters and their emotions at the same time without resorting to any split screen editing. You would see many such brilliant moments in the film.

The music composition pandit Ravi Shankar is just brilliant and adds soul to the movie. The sound recording captures the sound you would experience in a countryside. The two kids in the movie are the ones that win you heart as compared to the others. They have performed very well.  Although the family is going through financial troubles the world in the eyes of the kids is still beautiful as they take extreme pleasure from the smallest things. The activities they do would have been nostalgic for many of the movie goers during that time.  As the movie is based on a popular novel the story itself is very compelling and Ray’s visual language gives a new dimension to the story.

High Points: The outdoor sequences, Scene compositions, performances of the actors, nostalgic moments, background score, use of the sets, the iconic train scene

Low Points: The only low point is the legend Ray is not with us now

Get ready to travel to a countryside and relive the early 20th century. This is a milestone movie in the history of Indian Cinema that had got a lot of attention from the world. Don’t miss if you get a chance to watch this one.

Must Watch

Song of the Little Road: A movie that was 3 years in the making on a shoe string Budget

Song of the Little Road: A movie that was 3 years in the making on a shoe string Budget

All of us are enthusiastically talking about the magnum opus movies like Baahubali that is in the making for a long time. Long time doesn’t necessarily mean the cost of the movie but the common trait is the passion for producing high quality cinema to the audience. In this week’s Friday Fundas I am going to talk about a well-known personality whose obsession to create great movies changed the landscape of Indian Cinema. The name is Satyajit Ray.

All of us know Satyajit Ray created his debut directorial venture Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road) that was released in 1955. Do you know when the shooting for the movie started? It started in 27 October 1952. The estimated budget for the production was Rs. 70,000 (around USD 14, 613 during that time). The film took so long to produce due to funding problems and the shoot has to stop and restart many times.

Satyajit Ray had a passion of making cinema for a long time. In the 1940’s when he read the novel Pather Panchali by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay he wanted to make that into a movie. When the French director Jean Renoir was making his film The River in India, Ray had a chance to assist him. Jean encouraged Ray to make Pather Panchali. Ray then travelled to London on his advertising company assignment. He watched more than 100 films. He started drawing sketches for his movie Pather Panchali. Based on these sketches he created the initial storyboard with details of continuity. Ray altered the story and characters to suit the narrative of a film. In particular the iconic scene where the children run through the field to catch the glimpse of the train is not in the novel.

Ray had casted new faces primarily to reduce the cost of filmmaking. After many auditions for the casting of Apu; Ray was not satisfied with the people he met. His wife spotted a boy in the neighborhood who she thought would fit the role and thus he became Apu on screen. The Technical team also included many new comers. The Cinematographer Subrata Mitra was handling camera for the first time. He had worked with Ray in the sets of The River. Initially he was given the role of assistant director and later he became the cinematographer for the movie. Subrata Mitra and art director Bansi Chandragupta later went on to become very famous in their respective professions.

Ray had funding problems from the starting. He had to work as a graphic designer, pawn the insurance policies, and sell his gramophone records to raise the fund for the movie. Ray’s wife pawned her jewels to contribute to the fund. But halfway through the filming Ray ran out of funds and could not resume it for a year. One of the most influential friends of Ray’s mother had requested the Chief minister of West Bengal Bidhan Chandra Roy to help with funding the film. The Home publicity department saw the footages of the film and helped Ray in completing the film with appropriate funds. The government is said to have misunderstood the nature of the film to be a documentary on rural uplift and recorded the loan as being for “road improvement” based on the title of the movie.

Rest is history where the movie was welcomed with overwhelmed response all over the world and Ray the master mind director for Indian film industry started ruling hearts of the audience for many years to come. He went onto making two sequels to Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar. This is rated as one of the best Trilogy of all times.

Thus the passion and obsession of a man who believed in his dream went on to realizing it. Also a best movie is not about making it on a big budget but narrating a compelling story through visual medium to the audience.

If you liked this article you might also like this article about the legendary director SS Vasan and the making of his magnum opus Chandralekha.

[Source: Wikipedia]




Friday Funda: Parallel Cinema

Parallel Cinema 

Parallel Cinema is a term that refers to the film movement in India during the years 1940 to 1960 wherein new age of film makers emerged and they started to make movies which are very close to reality and not having typical Bollywood commercial entertainer which had all the song and dance. This movement was heavily inspired by Italian neorealism and French new wave movies. This originated mainly in the Bengali movies and then spread across to other Indian film industries.

Satyajit Ray is considered to be the father of parallel cinema. Before he took his first movie Pather Panchali he had assisted Italian film maker Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, French film maker Jean Nori’s The River. He said his first movie had a lot of influences from them. This was the birth of parallel cinema. Post this many able film makers started to make parallel cinema. Some of the prominent film makers of parallel Cinema are Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Basu Bhattacharya, John Abraham (director who made critically acclaimed Agraharathil Kazhuthai), Mrinal Sen, Guru Dutt, Ritwik Ghatak, Girish Kasaravalli, G. Aravindan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Karnad, J Mahendran, Balu Mahendra and many more. They redefined Indian Cinema and made it shine on global stage. It is during this time when many Indian movies became regular feature at prominent international film festivals like the Cannes. Also movies like Pyaasa by Guru Dutt still features as all-time top 100 movies in Time Magazines movie list. And rightly the period of 1940 – 1960 of Indian Cinema was considered to be the Golden Age for Indian Cinema. Many of these were commercial success as well.

It then prevailed very strongly till the early 90’s. State government used to fund a lot of parallel cinemas which was very encouraging. However post the 90’s the commercialization of cinemas became very prevalent. Production houses had to make commercial success to thrive in the economic conditions and the cost of making a movie started growing high. Thus we don’t see much of parallel cinema coming out as it used to. Hope the government starts another movement to let the artists express their view in pure artistic format thus giving us some gem of movies.

Today you can see many of these movies digitally restored free at http://www.cinemasofindia.com/. This is a great initiative by NFDC.

Friday Fundas: Recipe for movies to connect with Audience

Friday Fundas: Recipe for movies to connect with Audience

There are numerous reasons a film script is successful. One of the factors for success is the ability of a movie to connect with the audience.  The more the audience is connecting to the script the more engagement happens and eventually they like the film.

Naturally human beings react to 5 senses see, hear, smell, taste and touch and 6th intellectual sense. If the script is able to connect with the six senses then there is a natural connection that happens.

View of a train through paddy fields
View of a train through paddy fields in Pather Panchali


See: Film is a visual medium and it can easily connect to this sense. The visual portrayed connect to the audience. Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali has an iconic scene of the kids running through the fields to see a running train. The scene would connect well with people who spent their childhood near a railway line and have experienced this or even run through a paddy field.





Slumdog Millionaire Kids running in Dharavi
Slumdog Millionaire Kids running in Dharavi


Hear:  Audio plays a very important role in the movie. This is where sound engineering plays a major role. Slumdog Millionaire created the sounds that one would hear in the Dharavi area very aptly which made the visuals look more real.




Smell of the Lunchbox
Smell of the Lunchbox

Smell: This is one of the difficult senses to get across to the audience although there has been experiments made to create smell in theaters based on the visuals but nothing has been put into commercial use yet. However through the characters in the movie or in the dialogues this could be manifested. In the movie Lunch box you see the lead character smelling the tiffin box and leaving for lunch immediately. This would get the audience connected to the scene.




Kahaani - showing road side eateries
A shot from Kahaani with road side eateries

Taste: This again can be conveyed through a visual medium. The movie Kahaani had Kolkata as a character in the movie. The street side chat shops have been used to create an ambience and many scenes involve the actors or the side characters eating in those shops. Lunch box is another good example where food plays a major part of the narration and it is shown beautifully that you end up feeling hungry. This makes the audience relate to the sense of taste.




Making of Mahatma
Making of Mahatma


Touch/Feel: Similar to smell this can be narrated through visual elements. Many a times you would have felt goose bumps when watching the movie. In the movie Making of Mahatma when Mohandas starts walking on his own and slowly the scene builds up where more and more people join him the march you get a sense of pride and goose bumps. Compelling narration could manifest a variety of feeling in the audience to have them connected.






Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park


Intellectual: The sixth sense of the human is intellectual and a good script should never “insult the intelligence” of the audience and would never connect well with them. In the movie Jurassic Park Director Speilberg and writer Crichton prepare the audience in the first 20 minutes to create a convincing case for the possibility of recreating the dinosaurs which had got extinct 65 million years ago. This created a very successful movie and also allowed them to create more sequels to this.




Every individual is different and there is not a single movie which everyone has liked it. A movie or a script becomes a hit then many people have connected to it. If it is strongly liked only by a set of people then it gets a cult status. Not all hit movies would have connected to the six senses of the audience but all movies that have failed to do so.