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Revisit These Satyajit Ray Masterpieces on His Death Anniversary

Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen

Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen

Comprising Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, Ray’s seminal Apu Trilogy details the three different stages of the protagonist, Apu's life.

Satyajit Ray is being remembered on his 27th death anniversary today. And while Netflix, Amazon and other online video platforms have spoilt most of us for choice, here are some Satyajit Ray masterpieces you can watch and pay tribute to the auteur who brought Indian cinema on the world map.

Apu Trilogy
Comprising Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, Ray’s seminal Apu Trilogy details the three different stages of the protagonist, Apu's life.
A huge departure from Indian cinema’s usual musicals and melodramas, Pather Panchali not only announced the arrival of a new filmmaking talent but also put Indian cinema on the map when it was released in 1956.

Writing for The New Yorker, prominent film critic Pauline Kael had this to say for Ray’s masterpiece: “The first film by the masterly Satyajit Ray – possibly the most unembarrassed and natural of directors – is a quiet reverie about the life of an impoverished Brahman family in a Bengali village. Beautiful, sometimes funny, and full of love, it brought a new vision of India to the screen.”

Mahanagar or The Big City (1963):
Long before feminism was ‘cool’, Ray’s Mahanagar or The Big City based on a short story by Narendra Nath Mitra told the story of a housewife railing against the ‘woman’s- place- is- in- the- home’ mentality Influential Chicago Sun-Times critic, the late Roger Ebert, said the power of “this extraordinary film seems to come in equal parts from the serene narrative style of director Satyajit Ray and the sensitive performances of the cast members. At a time when we are engaged in the annual ritual of choosing our ‘best actress’, it might be useful to see the performance of Madhabi Mukherjee in this film. She is a beautiful deep, wonderful actress who simply surpasses all ordinary standards of judgment.”

Charulata (1964):
This 1964 Ray film is set almost entirely within a house and its environs in 1880s Kolkatta. It tells the story of a bored housewife whose wealthy husband is too occupied with running his own newspaper. That is until the arrival of her husband’s young cousin creates ripples in her life.

“Though Charulata has been obscured in the Ray canon by a certain trilogy made at the outset of his career, it remains a singularly accomplished song to love, idealism, heartbreak, and disillusionment.” Jay Antani wrote in the slantmagazine.com

Days and Nights in the Forest (1970):
Ray’s tribute to mentor Jean Renoir, Days and Nights in the Forest is a story about middle-class city slicks from Kolkatta going on a road trip to rural Bihar and the events that follow as they put up at a forest guest house.
Tom Milne, writing in Time Out magazine, says: “Ray gradually distills a magical world of absolute stasis: a shimmering summer’s day, a tranquil forest clearing, the two women strolling in a shady avenue, wistful yearnings as love and the need for love echo plangently […] Beautifully shot and acted, it’s probably Ray’s masterpiece.”

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