Veteran film personalities remembered Bharat Ratna Satyajit Ray in a panel discussion at the ongoing PIFF

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Pune, March 8, 2022: It is important to not worship Satyajit Ray as a hero but to remember his ethos, sensibility and work by the young generation, expressed Dhritiman Chatterjee, veteran actor. He was speaking at the Panel Discussion on Bharat Ratna Satyajit Ray and his films at the ongoing Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). Dr Mohan Agashe, veteran actor and Ravi Gupta, secretary, Pune Film Foundation also participated in the discussion.


The ongoing 20th edition of PIFF had organised this panel to celebrate the birth centenary of Bharat Ratna Satyajit Ray, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Dr. Jabbar Patel, veteran filmmaker and the festival director of PIFF, Satish Alekar, trustee, Pune film Foundation and Prakash Magdum, director, NFAI were also present for the occasion.


Chattejee who has acted in 3 of Ray’s films namely Pratidwandi, Ganashatru and Agantuk, spoke at length about Ray’s methods, vision and art of filmmaking. He also emphasised his insecurity about Ray’s work being termed as godly hence blemish less. “In the 1950s, in Calcutta, there was a scenario where criticising Tagore’s work was considered almost a blasphemy. I fear that same scenario would take place in the case of Ray’s work. Ray wouldn’t have wanted that. The young generation must relook at his work, criticise and re-evaluate to ensure that he is relevant even for the further generations to come,” he said. Chatterjee further added that they must not only discuss his art of filmmaking but also his socio-political stance, which is evident in his every film.


Dr.  Agashe, who was directed by Ray in the film ‘Sadgati’ , spoke about  Ray’s meticulous method of writing  and directing. ‘Sadgati’ was based on the story written by Munshi Premchand and it highlighted the deep rooted caste system in Indian society. Dr Agashe while narrating his experience of working with Ray, said, “His ability of transforming a written script into a visual script was simply unparalleled. He was always clear in his thoughts and vision about the film. He was flexible in his work process. As an actor, I didn’t have to improvise as he was so methodical in his direction,” he said.


Along with Ray’s art of filmmaking, his practical approach was also discussed at length by Ravi Gupta. As the MD of National Film Division Corporation (NFDC, Gupta had the opportunity to produce Ray’s films like ‘Ghare-Bahere’ and ‘Agantuk’ etc. He was also associated with the process of restoring Ray’s classic films such as Pather Panchali or Apu trilogy,  after his demise in 1992. “After Ray’s death, the world over his films were in demand. Academy of motion picture filmmaker Martin Scorcesse, Sony Classics and  film personality Ismael Merchant came together and restored the films. I had the opportunity to coordinate the effort from the Indian side,” said Gupta.


He further added that Ray was probably the only filmmaker whose every film was a commercial success.“We talk about Ray as an art filmmaker but he was not just that. Every one of his 34 films earned profits for his producers. Producers never lost money and that is the reason he was able to make so many films. Ray was of the opinion that trophies and awards were as important as the producer recovering his money invested in the film ,”said Gupta.


He further narrated an anecdote, wherein after making Agantuk, Ray returned Rs 1.5 lakh to NFDC from the budget of 20 lakh as he completed the film and did not require the remaining money. “I was part of several films as a producer and financier but never saw money being returned by any filmmaker other than Ray. He was truly a man of integrity,” he concluded.