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The Satyajit Ray Google doodle

Last updated on: May 2, 2013 12:58 IST

The Satyajit Ray Google doodle

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Google salutes Satyajit Ray, arguably India's greatest-ever director, on his 92nd birth anniversary with a doodle.

Depicting that famous scene from the late director's Pather Panchali , the doodle has protagonist Apu and his elder sister Durga running through the fields to catch a glimpse of a passing train, the first time they have seen a train in their lives.

Pather Panchali was the first film in the the Apu trilogy -- the other two films being Aparajito and Apur Sansar). Pather Panchali won Ray many accolades, including the Best Human Documentary award at Cannes.

Son of the prolific Bengali writer, illustrator and critic Sukumar Ray and his wife Suprabha, Ray, who his friends and admirers affectionately called Manikda, was born on May 2, 1921 in Calcutta.

Before films became his life, Manikda worked in advertising, founded a film society, married his cousin and sweetheart Bijoya Das in 1949 and resolved to become a filmmaker after he worked with Jean Renoir when the French director shot The River in Bengal.

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Image: Google doodle for Satyajit Ray's 92nd birthday


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As Partha Pathak explained on Rediff QnA two years ago, the train sequence in Pather Panchali is so memorable because 'Apu and Durga share an affectionate brother-sister relationship. Durga, as the elder sister, cares for Apu with motherly affection, although she does not spare any opportunity to tease him. They share the simple joys of sitting quietly under a tree, running after the candy man who passes by ringing bells, viewing pictures in a bioscope shown by a travelling vendor, and watching a play by a travelling troupe of actors. In the evenings, they can hear the whistles of trains far away...'

'...One day they run away from home to catch a glimpse of the train. The scene depicting Apu and Durga running through Kaash fields to see the train is one of the memorable sequences in the film,' Pathak wrote on Rediff QnA. 'While playing one day in the bushes, they discover their Aunt Indira lying dead there.'

As director Santosh Sivan noted on Rediff.com some years ago: 'One of the scenes, which still remains in my mind, and I can never forget even though I saw the film long ago, is a scene from Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali. It is a scene where the children go to see the train.'

'They run towards the railway track with the sound of the engine in the background, and it starts raining," Sivan said. 'Instead of going to see the train, the girl stops and dances in the rain. Ultimately, only the boy gets to see the train passing by. Later on you remember that on seeing dark clouds in the sky, the boy had taken an umbrella. You may also remember that the girl falls ill and dies. It is one of my memorable scenes.'

The Google doodle salutes Pather Panchali and its maker who passed into the ages a few weeks after receiving an Oscar for his contribution to cinema 21 years ago.

With Aparajito came wider acclaim for Ray; the film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Sharmila Tagore made her debut in Apur Sansar, the final segment of the Apu trilogy -- Ray has the unique distinction of introducing three brilliant actresses in his films; Aparna Sen, the daughter of his friend movie critic Chidananda Dasgupta featured in one of the segments in Teen Kanya while Jaya Bhaduri appeared in Mahanagar long before she went to the FTII and became one of Hindi cinema's best-loved actresses.

Of Ray, another Master, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, said, 'Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.'


Image: Satyajit Ray
Photographs: Nemai Ghosh. Courtesy: Satyajit Ray: A Vision of Cinema, Viva Books

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