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Satyajit Ray

May 02, 1921 - Apr 23, 1992

 Satyajit Ray


  • Name : Satyajit Ray
  • Date of Birth : May 02, 1921
  • Passed Away On : Apr 23, 1992
  • Religion : Hindu
  • Death Place : Kolkata
  • Address : Kolkata
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Life Summary

    Name: Satyajit Ray
    Occupation: Filmmaker
    Date of Birth: 2 May 1921 
    Passed away on: 23 April 1992
    Place of Birth: Kolkata
    Death place: Kolkata

    Satyajit Ray was born in Kolkata in a Bengali family. His parents were Sukumar Ray and Suprabha Ray. 
    His grandfather was Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury who was a philosopher, amateur astronomer, writer, illustrator, publisher, and one of the leader’s of the Brahmo Samaj. Brahmo was a reaction against Christianity. As India was under colonial British rule and their religion along with orthodox Hindu practices were prevalent during that era. Upendrakishore Ray started a printing press named U. Ray and Sons.


    His Early childhood
    Satyajit Ray’s father Sukumar Ray died when Satyajit was just 3 years old. After his death, the family had to face more troubles as the printing press business deteriorated. Consequently, Ray’s mother took him to her paternal house where her brother lived. The lady taught needlework to earn her livelihood and raise Satyajit Ray.

    It is at his maternal uncle’s house that Ray met his future wife and cousin Bijoya.

    His Education
    Ray joined at Ballygunge Government High School, Calcutta when he was 8 years old. Later on he completed his BA in economics from Presidency College in Calcutta. The college was then affiliated with the University of Calcutta. Ray was always interested in fine arts.

    During his school days itself he developed interest in films and as a result he read Hollywood film magazines like Photoplay and Picturegoer. Also, he developed flair for western classical music and was fond of playing gramophone records that he usually purchased from flea market.

    In 1940, he went on to study at the Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, founded by Rabindranath Tagore upon his mother’s persuasion. Though, initially he was reluctant to join the educational institution as he was deeply attached to his native place Calcutta. At Santiniketan, Ray developed interest in Oriental art. 

    Life at Santiniketan
    In the year 1940, Ray very reluctantly joined Santiniketan. Rabindranath Tagore was a good friend of Ray’s father and grandfather.

    Ray’s first assignment included a visit to nearby villages and drawing sketches of rural India. This was a polar opposite for Ray as he was raised in cities and had less idea about village life.

    At the institute, Ray was captivated by oriental arts. Till then he was only acclimatized with Western art forms and was clueless about its Indian and Eastern counterparts.
    He learned the following arts at Santiniketan:

    He learned the following arts at Santiniketan:
    Indian Miniature painting
    Indian Sculpture painting
    Chinese landscapes
    Japanese Woodcuts

    His Career
    He began his career as a commercial artist in the years 1943-56. Also, he founded Calcutta's first film society in 1947 and made his first film, Pather Panchali (1955).

    Success of Pather Panchali
    On August 26, 1955 Pather Panchali was released in Kolkatta (Calcutta). Ray had designed 5 billboards for its promotion. But, the film did average business in the first two weeks of its release. However, by the third week it gained momentum and emerged as a huge success.

    Dr. B.C. Roy who saw the film arranged for the special screening for the first prime minister of Indepenedent India Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. Nehru was overwhelmed and touched by the film and insisted to make its entry in the Cannes film festival. Though the move was initially opposed by many but eventually the film did make its nomination in the coveted film festival. Consequently the film won the jury award for “The Best Human Document”.

    Ray as a Literary Figure 
    Ray made a significant contribution to children's literature in Bengali and wrote various short stories, novels and articles in his native language; Bengali. In the year 1961 he revived his grandfathers’ major work ‘Sandesh’; a children’s magazine. His target audience was teenagers and thus he wrote stories with themes that captured their interest. For example: detective stories, science, fantasy, horror, adventure, etc.

    Ray was admitted in the hospital for heart complications in the year 1992. But, unfortunately he did not recover despite the medical aid and died of heart attack on 23 April 1992.

    Honours and Recognitions
    Satyajit Ray won many accolades during his lifetime. Following are his awards and honours:

    •He won 32 National Awards during his career.
    •He won a prize for contribution to cinema at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival
    •He won the  Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival. He was one of the three Indian film makers to win this award more than once.
    •Also he is the only film person after Charles Chaplin to get a doctorate from Oxford University.
    •He won the Dadasaheb Phalke award in 1985
    •He was also awarded the Legion of Honour by the President of France in the year 1987.
    •He was awarded Padma Bhushan by govt. of India in the year 1965.
    •He also received the Bharat Ratna shortly before his sad demise.
    •The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray with a Lifetime Achievement Honorary Oscar in the year 1992 which was uniquely delivered at his home since he was too bedridden. 


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