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This article was first published 10 years ago

The BEST of my father, Satyajit Ray

Last updated on: May 02, 2014 19:57 IST

Image: A scene from Kanchenjungha
Indrani Roy/ in Kolkata

On Satyajit Ray's 93rd birth anniversary, his son Sandip Ray discusses his favourite movies.

“I don’t need any occasion to think of baba. His memories are my constant companion,” Sandip Ray, son of the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray and a filmmaker himself told

He named the following five Ray films as his personal favourites after qualifying his choice by saying he can’t “rank them on the basis of merit; they all are brilliant.” 

1. Kanchenjungha

Cast: Chhabi Biswas, Karuna Bannerjee, Anil Chatterjee, Anubha Gupta, Arun Mukherjee, Alaknanda Roy, Nilima Roy Chowdhuri, Pahadi Sanyal, Subrata Sensharma, Indrani Singh

In this 1962 film Ray made brilliant use of fog as the protagonist to portray the complexities of human relationships.

With an ensemble cast, this film had Ray's first original screenplay.

It was also his first colour film.

The film is about an upper class Bengali family on vacation in Darjeeling, a popular hill station near Kanchenjunga.

Each character evolves as the film progresses. The conclusion is unpredictable, and occurs just as the fog clears and one can see the magnificent Kanchenjunga peak in the distance.


2. Charulata

Image: Madhabi Mukherjee in Charulata

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee and Sailen Mukherjee

Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s novella Noshtoneer, this 1964-film set in 1870s Kolkata tells the tale of a housewife, Charu.

She is wealthy yet lonely and is bored of her idle life.

Her husband, Bhupati, runs a newspaper. He is a workaholic and has very little time to spare for his wife.

He asks his cousin Amal to keep Charu company.

A complicated love triangle ensues as a result that leads to an unpleasant denouement.

3. Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne

Image: Tapen Chatterjee and Rabi Ghosh in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne

Cast: Tapen Chatterjee, Rabi Ghosh, Santosh Dutta, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Jahor Roy, Santi Chatterjee, Chinmoy Ray

This 1969-film based on a short story by Ray’s grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury has Goopy and Bagha, two yokels, as its protagonists.

Goopy loves to sing but can't hold a tune to save his life, and Bagha plays the drum but has no sense of rhythm.

Both are banished from their village for oppressing villagers with their atrocious music.

But they manage to please Bhuter Raja, or the king of ghosts, who grants them three boons -- they only have to clap each other's hands to eat whatever they please, travel wherever they wish and render listeners awe-struck with their music.

Equipped with these wishes, Goopi and Bagha set out on a journey of adventure.

4. Aranyer Din Ratri

Image: Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore in Aranyer Din Ratri

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Aparna Sen

Based on a novella by ace writer Sunil Gangopadhyay, this much acclaimed 1970 Ray film focuses on a group of friends escaping the bustle of the city by heading to a tribal outpost in Bihar.

They stumble across women -- of every imaginable kind.

Beneath its sunny veneer, the film has a dark centre and gradually turns into a commentary on the squalor of urban life.

5. Jana Aranya

Image: Aparna Sen in Jana Aranya

Cast: Pradip Mukherjee, Satya Banerjee, Dipankar Dey, Lily Chakravarti, Gautam Chakravarti, Aparna Sen, Sudesna Das, Utpal Dutt, Rabi Ghosh

This 1976-film is based on the novel of the same name by Mani Shankar Mukherjee aka Shankar.

It is the last among Ray's Calcutta trilogy, the previous two being Pratidwandi and Seemabaddha.

The film portrays the hopelessness of the middle-class, educated, urban youth in modern India.

After making numerous unsuccessful attempts to find a job, Somnath finally decides to start his own business as a middle-man.

He gets involved in petty dealings that he finds unsatisfactory. One day, in order to land a big order, he has to appease a client by supplying him with a sex worker.

Despite his tremendous hesitation and after trying several brothels, Somnath finds a girl for the purpose.

However, she turns out to be his friend Sukumar's younger sister.