It has been 29 years since the legendary auteur departed this life, but not before putting Indian cinema on the global map forever. Regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, he was a Ray of light to Indian and world cinema. Filmmakers till date look up to his work for inventiveness. That’s Satyajit Ray for everyone- a filmmaker, scriptwriter, author, lyricist, magazine editor, illustrator, calligrapher, and music composer who needs no further introduction.
His demise in 1992 was a profound loss, not only for global cinema but for the Indian cinematic movement which had at its helm the trio of Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak. Time and again filmmakers have looked up to the Oscar-winning director to take inspiration from his cinematic style. While there are quite a few directors who have offered their films as a tribute to him, some also made several allusions to his work.
In the 2012 film Kahaani, director Sujoy Ghosh had dedicated a couple of scenes and moments from his film to Satyajit Ray.
The scene in which Vidya Balan moves from window to window in the guest-house room finds its inspiration from the famous opening sequence of Ray’s 1964 film Charulata, where Madhabi Mukherjee can be seen traversing from one window to another and looking at the outside world with her binoculars to cope up with her loneliness. Ghosh, in several interviews, has acknowledged the influence of other films like Nayak, Mahanagar, and Aranyer Dinratri on Kahaani.
Bengali filmmaker Srijit Mukherji’s debut directorial Autograph was a tribute to Ray’s 1966 film Nayak and the evergreen actor Uttam Kumar. Although the story is different from that of Ray’s masterpiece, it had references and parallels to the original film, and Uttam Kumar’s life as well.
Another Bengali director Aniket Chattopadhyay’s film Mahapurush O Kapurush also has a resemblance to his classic Kapurush O Mahapurush. The filmmaker went on to record to say that the film is to pay his tribute to Ray’s film.
Late filmmaker Rituporno Ghosh, who shot to limelight with his acclaimed film Unishe April, was inspired by Ray’s 1958 film Jalsaghar. Ghosh has often referred to Ray as his mentor and inspiration. It fetched him his first National Film Award.
The 2005 Bollywood film Parineeta, starring Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan, also has a scene paying homage to Charulata. In one of the scenes, Vidya dresses up to resemble Madhabi Mukherjee’s character of Charu, in the song Soona Man Ka Aangan. In Charulata, which is based on a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, Ray made his leading lady sing Tagore’s song “Fule Fule Dhole Dhole" on a swing. In Parineeta, Vidya too sings the song on a swing.
However, Ray’s legacy is not just limited to Indian filmmakers. The ingenious artist has inspired a generation of filmmakers, including Wes Anderson, Martin Scorcese, Christopher Nolan, and Francis Ford Coppola.
Anderson’s dedicated his 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited to Satyajit Ray. A major part of the film’s soundtrack features music composed by him including the theme of Charulata.
Another American filmmaker Ira Sachs loosely based his film Forty Shades of Blue on Ray’s Charulata. Sachs, in an interview, had shared that even his latest film Frankie took inspiration from Ray’s film. In this case, it was his 1962 film Kanchenjungha which served as a motivation to Sachs.
Furthermore, American filmmaker Gregory Nava’s film My Family had a scene that made an allusion to Ray’s Apur Sansar, the final part of The Apu Trilogy.
His mark can be found in the work of many more filmmakers like George Lucas, Abbas Kiarostami, Danny Boyle, William Wyler, and many others.
Ray’s legacy in the canon of world cinema and specifically Bengali cinema, cannot be understated. The critique may follow, and so will the analysis but you cannot help but be awed by the numerous ways in which the filmmaker continues to inspire us even to this day.