Inspired by Satyajit Ray’s expansive body of work, three modern filmmakers have created Ray, a 4-part anthology series on Netflix. Forget Me Not and Behrupiya, directed by Srijit Mukherjee; Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa by Abhishek Chaubey and Spotlight by Vasan Bala – three different directors, brought one storyteller’s epic tales to life in their peculiar styles. The impressive cast included the best of Indian cinema’s acclaimed names, known for their nuanced performances. From seasonal veterans like Manoj Bajpayee, Kay Kay Menon and Gajraj Rao to the young brigade of actors like Ali Fazal, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Shweta Basu Prasad and Radhika Madan, the series was helmed by a power-packed bunch.
Each film focuses on the complexities of the minds of its male protagonists. The director’s interpretations of the master’s writings keep you intrigued as the visuals are carefully threaded and layered for an unusual cinematic experience. The stories may seem simpler, but the magical touch of human emotions make it a treat to watch. Ray is a special tribute to a man that has changed the face of movie-making with his vivid imagination and exceptional skills.
To understand the maestro’s legacy a little better, here are some of his most celebrated films that you can watch after enjoying the latest adaptation, Ray.
1. Pather Panchali (1955)
Pather Panchali (first of the trilogy), also known as A Song of the Little Road, released in 1955, marked Satyajit’s debut as a director. The movie was about a little boy Apu from a marginalised family, and it focused on his everyday struggles while living in a rural Indian village. It was adapted from a novel with the same name by author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay and was produced by the acting West Bengal government of the time. This movie left an eminent impression on the minds of cinema lovers as it introduced them to a new kind of narrative in which a film could be presented.
Streaming Options: Eros Now, JioCinema
2. Jalsaghar (1958)
The movie follows the rise and the downfall of a zamindar (landlord), played by Chabi Biswas. He deals with his crisis by living in oblivion and holding musical gatherings instead of protecting his assets. The movie became a classic in Bengali cinema and earned Ray two national awards in the best feature film category (national and regional).
Streaming Options: Amazon Prime, Jio Cinema
3. Devi (1960)
Devi starred yesteryear actor Sharmila Tagore in the titular role. She played the character of Dayamoyee, a girl who is believed to be the incarnation of the Goddess Kaali by her father-in-law. Soon, the villagers start buying into this ideology and begin worshipping her, which convinces her to look at herself as a higher power. In the act of playing God, she loses touch with reality and meets with a tragedy. The film was ahead of its time for clearly depicting religion as an addiction if people went beyond moderation.
Streaming Option: YouTube
4. Abhijan (1962)
This film served as an inspiration for Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver and was also considered one of Satyajit’s most commercially accepted films. The story is about a taxi driver Narsingh played by Soumitra Chatterjee, who wants to reinvent his life after being reprimanded by a cop in the city. But in a turn of events, he unwillingly gets involved in smuggling and human trafficking. He finds his path of redemption when he meets Gulabi, a prostitute portrayed by the golden era’s superstar Waheeda Rehman, who wants to escape her pimp, but the road ahead for them is full of difficulties.
Streaming Options: Amazon Prime, YouTube
5. Charulata (1964)
Fun fact: this movie was entirely shot within a haveli in Kolkata (Calcutta at the time). Charulata is a tale of a married woman who is bored and unsatisfied with her wedded life, owing to her husband’s time-consuming profession. Things get interesting when on the instance of her husband, her brother-in-law takes charge of creatively inspiring her but ends up forming a different bond with her. This movie raised many eyebrows as it showed the institution of marriage from a point beyond sanctity, emphasising human desires that don’t necessarily involve your partner.
Streaming option: Amazon Prime
Did you know Satyajit Ray received an honorary Oscar as a lifetime achievement award in 1992? His contribution to the world of cinema was admired by filmmakers and movie enthusiasts around the globe. His writings preceded boundaries and timelines and are still watched with a lens of relatability and relevance by the younger generations.