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Satyajit Ray- Reflections on Cinema

Cinema is vast. It is impossible to learn every aspect of it from a book, article or a blog. It is only through experiences that we can know the depth of the cinema. In this blog, experiences(film making & directions) of Satyajit Ray has been selected from his book ‘Deep Focus” published by Harper Collins.

Satyajit Ray(1921-92) was one of the greatest film-makers of his time. His first film Pather Panchali(1955) won an award at the Cannes film festival and established his reputation as a major director. He is the only Indian to receive Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.   

Area of focus would be ‘The Film Maker’s craft”. In the words of Satyajit Ray, ‘A film must achieve its objective.’ Further essential tools of film-making are collected in fragments here:

  • Cinema is a Language. There is also a Language of images, sound and culture.  (Satyajit Ray)Gregory currie believes in cinema as a means of communication, and representational. “Film is a representational medium; it is a means by which representations, themselves distinctly cinematic, are produced and displayed” (1953).

  • For the new directors, it is essential to learn the audience reaction to their works. More than critics, it is the taste of the audience which matters.
  • The regional film should be made in the language of regions as practised in the South.
  • The exposure of Indian cinema to the West is necessary for the growth of the film industry. A film must fit in the diverse & variant perspectives for its success.
  • Western writers may not judge the Indian cinema and their characters truly. They may miss the significance of culture, tastes and religion. It is only Rudyard Kipling who has got closer to write the truth of Indians.
  • It is important for the film to make the context very clear. Film story should not be alien to the audience. It must be related to the day-to-day life of individuals.
  • Every art form has its unique qualities. The tendency to run down an art form because it doesn’t have properties from some other art forms is pointless. The “sound movies” haven’t replaced “silent films”. Both has its own place in the field of cinema.
  • Technical innovations are good. But the characters/ actors role cannot be replaced by machines. ‘To make a Chaplin film you need a Chaplin and not a contraption( a machine or a device)’

  • A Film length should not be too much for the audience to bear. There should not be unwanted breaks and suspense.
  • Nowadays we get to see many movies based on popular books and mythical stories. Can copying exactly as written in books could bring success to film-makers? It is a precious question asked by Satyajit Ray for which he doesn’t show any positive agreements.
  • Sometimes we go to watch a movie and feels like ‘what nonsense it is!’ during half of the movie. It is because of the lack of truth, clarity and emptiness in the story-line.
  • Film work requires the coordinated contribution of so many different technicians, there are opportunities for a thousand slips in execution. But, good acting could save the movie from a downfall.

“What we really need is the true film artist; that dominating individual who is not only a master of his craft but who is also aware of its social implication, of his responsibility as a possible influence on a very large and often a very naive mass of impressionable, film hungry individuals, who is also able to inspire and channel a diversity of the talents into the best interests of work that must, in the end, bear the impression of his own dominating personality.”– Satyajit Ray

This was the short guideline for the art of film-making. Efforts were made to stick to the author ‘Satyajit Ray’ viewpoint. Many more points could be added to this blog from the original book. But, due to lack of time I have kept it short for the readers. Thanks for reading!

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