Sandip Ray introduced his arrival as a film-maker with the discharge of Phatik Chand in 1983. Within the final 20 years, he has get a hold of a number of memorable movies, together with Nishijapon (2005), Tintorettor Jishu (2008), Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy (2012) and Badshahi Angti (2014). He continues to edit Sandesh, the kids’s mag that Satyajit Ray nurtured with abnormal willpower from 1961. He used to be additionally at all times deeply concerned together with his father’s movies, particularly in post-production processes akin to enhancing. In Satyajit Ray’s final 3 movies, his son operated the digicam. In a protracted, freewheeling interview with Sarbari Sinha, Sandip Ray talks about his father. Excerpts:
Sure, he used to be. Other folks know Satyajit Ray essentially as a film-maker, however this side of him as a youngsters’s author may be essential. However now that his tales are getting translated into many languages, there’s extra consciousness.
Neatly, my grandmother [Suprabha Ray] had an enormous function within the revival of Sandesh, the mag that my grandfather first began in 1913. She would stay pronouncing that Sandesh will have to be introduced once more. Sadly, she didn’t reside to look Baba get started the mag once more. He relaunched it in 1961 together with his poet good friend Subhas Mukhopadhyay.
Baba gave a large number of his time to it. How he controlled to do this continues to be a thriller to me. He edited it and wrote for it in between capturing for his movies—he had this abnormal skill to control time. Actually, he began writing for youngsters when he revived Sandesh. He illustrated his personal tales and most of the tales via others, although Sandesh did produce other artists. He regularly made the structure. He proofread the mag himself. And he took his enhancing very severely.
In fact, he didn’t need to edit all of the tales that got here in, however say, 10 out of 20 that got here in. He regularly rewrote tales if he discovered the plots to be susceptible, or the climax now not dramatic sufficient. He would ask the author to drop in, pronouncing he sought after to talk about the tale. “Your tale is just right,” he would say, “however possibly shall we exchange it on those traces…” And those weren’t well known writers. Very regularly they might be first-time writers, somewhat bowled over to be invited for a dialogue via none rather then Satyajit Ray. He would talk about all of the adjustments he had made of their tales, very severely. Identical for the poems. He referred to as within the poets and mentioned the adjustments he had made within the rhymes or the rhythm. He used to be very correct in the whole lot that he did, very clear. There used to be this consistent float of memos to different editors, as an example to Lila Majumdar [the well-known children’s writer who was Sukumar Ray’s cousin and one of the editors of Sandesh]. “Lilu pishi, you may have okayed this tale, however I will be able to’t, some components in it are wrong for youngsters,” a standard memo would learn.
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He responded each and every letter that got here in himself. In the ones days other folks despatched in letters with “go back publish playing cards”. He would tear them out and sprint off his replies. If any letter used to be a bit of severe and referred to as for a well-thought-out, longish resolution, he would first make a draft after which sort out or write down the general model.
He used to be additionally intently concerned with the manufacturing and printing of the mag. Experience in printing generation used to be a circle of relatives custom; Upendrakishore and Sukumar had been pioneers. Baba, too, used to be acquainted with printing generation. His years at Kala Bhavan and within the British promoting company D.J. Keymer had made him a structure professional. So there used to be no division, no serve as of Sandesh that he didn’t oversee. He liked the mag. He used to be very concerned with it.
No, that custom of telling tales orally to youngsters of the circle of relatives that existed in Upendrakishore’s family ended with Sukumar Ray’s era. Actually, Baba by no means first of all even considered writing tales. He wrote essays, he wrote on movies. And in his early twenties, all through his days at Kala Bhavan, he wrote two tales in English, Abstraction and Sunglasses of Gray, that have been printed in Amritabazar Patrika. But if he revived Sandesh, he idea he will have to additionally give a contribution one thing as its editor. This is how he ended up translating Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll. After which he began considering of plots and began writing tales. However no, he by no means instructed tales orally; he by no means had the time.
The ambience in Upendrakishore’s circle of relatives used to be other. It used to be a big joint circle of relatives, with many youngsters, simply the correct surroundings for tales to learn, with many younger listeners. In some way, Baba reinvented that roughly storytelling within the persona of Tarini Khuro, an ‘uncle’ with a lot of tales to inform and a gaggle of children prepared to concentrate.
Baba in reality used to be a science fiction addict. He gobbled science fiction from early on. This is why, when he began considering of plots, he considered inventing a personality in a science fiction tale.
Sure. To start with, the foundation for Shonku used to be two comedian characters of Sukumar Ray, Nidhiram Patkel, an eccentric inventor, and the explorer in Heshoram Hoshiar, a spoof on Misplaced International. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger used to be additionally an inspiration. However Professor Shonku began off as an eccentric persona, inventor of a snuff gun that makes other folks sneeze frequently. Baba used to be bowled over via the good fortune of Shonku. Kids began writing in, their folks began writing in. He used to be within the telephone guide; he used to be at all times extremely out there, so other folks began calling to invite for extra. And he at all times took each and every name himself, he responded each and every letter himself, he didn’t have a secretary. The similar factor came about with Feluda some years later. Baba realised he must deliver again Shonku. And slowly Shonku was a extra severe persona since the outdated wackiness, the gag roughly factor, didn’t take a seat effectively with the plots Baba began considering up.
In order that is how Shonku was a sequence. However then Baba spotted that nobody used to be writing detective fiction for youngsters within the Nineteen Sixties. Hemendra Roy used to be lengthy lifeless. Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s Byomkesh used to be for adults. However Baba needed to write for youngsters; he needed to stay Sandesh afloat. So he wrote a detective tale impressed via Sherlock Holmes, with Felu as detective [Feludar Goendagiri, or Feluda’s Sleuthing, 1965] for Sandesh, with Topshe because the younger assistant with whom youngsters may just establish. However on the other hand his younger readers sought after extra of Feluda. This tale used to be too quick, they stated, they usually sought after an extended tale.
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And Baba may just now not deny the rest to youngsters. Kids had been at all times very particular for the Rays. So Baba began writing an increasing number of Feluda tales in Sandesh, and the mag’s gross sales went up. This, too, was a sequence. Badshahi Angti [Emperor’s Ring] ran in Sandesh for one year.
Then he used to be in bother. He used to be operating out of crimes for Felu to unravel. Baba wrote for youngsters, and the crime needed to be one thing he may just put right into a tale for youngsters. So he hit this patch the place he discovered his inventory of crimes used to be exhausted. However inventive artists at all times have the option out of such predicaments, and so did he.
Fascination for phrase video games
Neatly, sure, he appreciated indoor video games. As a tender guy he had performed cricket, even badminton, although I’ve by no means heard of him having performed soccer. Later, he performed within the movie business cricket suits. However it used to be indoor video games that he used to be actually into, particularly phrase video games. He liked Scrabble; we performed a large number of Scrabble, the 3 people, and from time to time guests could be drawn into the sport too. He appreciated all of the phrase video games made via Parker Brothers, the makers of Scrabble, particularly Boggle, after which there used to be a recreation referred to as Probe. Each time Parker Brothers introduced a brand new recreation, he used to be positive to procure it. There used to be a store referred to as Video games and Puzzles in London. Each time Baba used to be in London, he made it some degree to move there. He even subscribed to their e-newsletter, which saved him knowledgeable about new video games that had been presented. He made a phrase recreation himself, reasonably like Scrabble, which I consider him taking part in with my mom. This is misplaced now.
A fairy story for youngsters
I don’t consider about that really well, however clearly someday I will have to have complained that none of his movies had been for youngsters of my age, they had been too grim, and there have been some distance too many deaths in them. It will be great if he may just make movies for youngsters like me. He appreciated the theory, and it remained in the back of his thoughts. He at all times liked the tale of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne [written by Ray’s grandfather Upendrakishore]. He used to be now not born when it used to be serialised in Sandesh . However he reprinted it the 12 months he revived the mag. If truth be told, it used to be in 1964 that he first considered making a movie out of the tale, and he saved toying with the theory. However for quite a lot of causes it didn’t occur at the moment. After which he wrote a track for a movie, Chiriakhana, and writing a track gave him a large number of pleasure. However the concept of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne persevered. There have been many ups and downs…. One manufacturer got here ahead. We even made a travel to Rajasthan to take a look at places for capturing …
Neatly, on account of all of the forts which are there, the panorama, the sand, it’s visually thrilling territory—it all combining into the type of fairy-tale environment wanted for the tale. Baba stated we might take a look at puts now not frequented via vacationers. So we looked at a number of other places: Bharatpur, Kota, Bundi, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer. After taking a look on the places, he determined if he did make this movie, he would make it in color. Portions of it had been shot in Birbhum additionally. He even were given the songs for the movie recorded. However then the manufacturer subsidized out.
Insecurity, sure. A movie for youngsters, in the ones days, and that too a big-budget movie. No heroine, no romance, although in fact Goopy and Bagha get the 2 princesses in spite of everything. The manufacturer used to be apprehensive and chickened out. Baba used to be utterly flabbergasted that the mission used to be getting stalled after such a lot paintings on it. Then he moved directly to make a couple of different movies.
After which Purnima Dutta [of Priya Entertainments] got here ahead and presented to provide the movie. She had heard the songs and appreciated them very a lot. Her husband and spouse’s father had already produced a couple of movies. Baba instructed her: “It’s not simply your choice; you want to persuade your husband and spouse’s father.” She stated she had looked after all that and that she sought after to make this movie for her personal two youngsters. Then Baba stated: “However glance, it’s a big-budget movie.” She stated that may now not make a distinction.
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Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne grew to become out to be a wonderful good fortune—it ran for 8 months. I used to be happy to suppose that I had contributed by some means in its making via soliciting for a movie for youngsters. Baba used to be more than happy—he had now not anticipated one of these massive good fortune. Leisure tax used to be waived in this movie. Some other first used to be that it used to be launched in Calcutta’s Globe theatre with English subtitles. The songs and the dialogues had been massive hits, even the background rating. It used to be the primary Bengali movie to return out as an LP, lengthy taking part in document, with the songs, the background rating, the collection of the ghosts bestowing their 3 boons. It used to be a amusing time for our circle of relatives. We’re ever thankful to Purnima-di for coming ahead to provide the film.
Sure, it used to be now not sooner or later imaginable to provide the movie in color. The finances used to be one side of it. And in the ones days it used to be now not actually imaginable to get superb visible impact with color. So he went with black-and-white, apart from for the final scene, which gave a unique twist to the finishing. This used to be one feel sorry about that Baba had, that he may just now not display the resplendent Jaisalmer fortress in color.
Sure, when he determined to movie Sonar Kella, he used to be satisfied that he would in spite of everything be capable of display the golden castle in color. Baba had some favorite places. Darjeeling used to be one, Puri used to be some other. Some other position he used to be very keen on used to be Gopalpur [on the sea coast in Odisha], a quiet position in the ones days. Oberoi had a belongings in Gopalpur, and Baba used to move and keep there at times, from time to time to put in writing scripts. Actually all the screenplay of Charulata used to be written in Gopalpur.
Hirak Rajar Deshe used to be made ahead of that, precisely 10 years after Goopy Bagha. In between, he would categorical a need to write songs once more, like he had accomplished for Goopy Bagha. The songs for Hirak Rajar Deshe had been written ahead of the tale used to be written, and when the tale used to be able, he wrote a couple of extra songs to spherical it off. Then later, he sought after to put in writing songs once more for a brand new Goopy Bagha movie, and he in truth did write one or two songs. Once more, the songs got here ahead of the screenplay. However he used to be now not effectively. So he stated I will have to make the movie. I used to be apprehensive to start with—to reside as much as the primary two would now not be clean.
However then, I had made Phatik Chand a couple of years previous, and that had given me self belief. I had sought after to make my first movie on a tale via Baba, and I selected Phatik Chand. He stated he would do the screenplay for me and the song, however the remaining used to be as much as me. I used to be very cautious that it doesn’t matter what I did other folks would say Baba had made the movie for me. So I didn’t permit him at the capturing flooring. He may just come and take a seat outdoor, have tea if he sought after, however I made my capturing flooring out of bounds for him. He were given to look the movie handiest on the time of the ‘first minimize’ after the preliminary spherical of enhancing.
His reaction used to be silence. After all I needed to ask, effectively, will you assert one thing? He stated: “My script requires a one-hour-forty-minute movie, yours is 2 hours 20 mins. Lower it. How and what you’ll minimize, this is as much as you.” I used to be apprehensive, however I went forward, and I had Baba’s instance ahead of me. Baba used to be utterly ruthless about enhancing his personal movies. Regardless of how a lot paintings had long gone right into a shot, regardless of how just right the performing, he would narrow it if he idea it used to be superfluous. Now and again, after a complete day spent on outside capturing, he would throw away the scene. To my anguished “why”, he would handiest say, “It doesn’t lend a hand the tale in any respect.” I controlled to chop down Phatik Chand to at least one hour 45 mins. Baba used to be satisfied. “Now I will be able to do the song for it,” he stated.
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But if Phatik Chand used to be launched, other folks stated it used to be Baba’s paintings. My emotions had been combined. If other folks actually idea it used to be Baba’s paintings, it will have to be just right! After I made Goopy Bagha Phire Elo, I requested my father to be with us on the capturing—other folks would anyway say what they needed to. However there used to be one thing extra necessary. When I used to be capturing this movie, Baba used to be in poor health. He used to be now not in a position to make movies at the moment. However he ignored the studio surroundings, the sheer chaos, the musty odor. I felt it might lend a hand him to be with us all through the capturing. It will stay him from getting depressed.
Once more there used to be the ‘first minimize’ viewing. I had installed an period to look his response. He requested me what the period used to be for. I stated, to look the response to the movie. He stated, “Run it on. It’s just right.” For me, that used to be like being okayed via the censor board.
Then later he went directly to make 3 extra function movies, Ganashatru, Sakha Prasakha, Agantuk. The day ahead of capturing for Ganashatru used to be to start out, he fell in poor health. We had been all apprehensive, and I requested the docs whether or not we will have to cancel tomorrow’s capturing. They recommended towards it and requested me to start out the capturing a little bit overdue as an alternative of early morning. An ambulance used to be saved able in case of any emergency, and docs too had been in attendance. However as quickly because the capturing began, Baba, magically, recovered, his blood drive was solid. The capturing flooring did one thing to him. His physician used to be guffawing: “So you’re effective while you paintings! What used to be using holding an ambulance able?”
Handiest that he used to be now not a taskmaster. He used to be at all times very comfy, very easy-going. And anyway after a definite age fathers grow to be pals…
‘Sonar Kella’ capturing
Tales there are galore, however essentially the most attention-grabbing are those about outside capturing, particularly within the Feluda movies, in particular Sonar Kella. We shot first in Delhi, then in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, and in spite of everything Jaisalmer. Issues had been actually difficult then, there have been no way of conversation save landline phones and telegrams; one made trunk requires long-distance conversation. Setting up a multi-location capturing travel up to now from West Bengal used to be now not a funny story. The Indian Railways actually cooperated. Our manufacturing unit had a devoted bogie. Once we reached one vacation spot, the bogie used to be indifferent from the teach and saved ready till we moved directly to our subsequent vacation spot, when it used to be hooked up to the teach that used to be to take us there.
A number of hours ahead of we completed capturing at a location, our manufacturing controller, Anil Chowdhury, left for the following location. By the point we reached, a bus could be looking forward to us on the station to take us to the lodge, the place he had already finished the bookings or even had rooms allocated for all the unit. This used to be extra difficult than it sounds, for a manufacturing unit is at all times a melee of various characters. He knew the unit inside of out. This one does now not get at the side of that one, or, say, this individual is not going to proportion a room with that individual as a result of he snores. Neatly, so he would put two snorers in the similar room. He may just at all times figure out the interpersonal chemistries within the unit and make it paintings. He used to be a wonderful man. He labored with the precision of a pc.
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Sudden issues at all times crop up all through capturing. Baba wanted a Colt .32 revolver in Jaisalmer for the climactic scene. When he had long gone to Jaisalmer to try location, he met a police officer who had a Colt .32 revolver. Baba used to be overjoyed: this supposed something much less to hold. The officer used to be additionally overjoyed: Satyajit Ray asking to borrow his revolver to shoot a scene! But if we reached Jaisalmer for the capturing, the officer have been transferred out, at the side of his revolver. Baba used to be nonplussed. Now what used to be to be accomplished? Once more it used to be Anil Chowdhury. He positioned calls to Jodhpur and discovered that an officer there had a Colt .32. He drove out to Jodhpur in a single day and taken again with him the officer and his gun.
My very own maximum hanging reminiscence of that travel used to be of the final day. Because the capturing advanced all through the travel, our agenda used to be bit by bit getting reasonably tight, small delays right here and there have been including up. For the capturing of the climax in Jaisalmer fortress, we had scheduled two days, nevertheless it were given diminished to part an afternoon. We had simply the morning to finish the shoot and we needed to depart within the afternoon to catch our teach at Jodhpur within the night time to go back and forth again house by the use of Delhi. It used to be a disaster.
However Baba used to be utterly unruffled. Taking a look at him, you possibly can by no means make out the rest used to be the subject. I’ve by no means noticed him apprehensive or tensed up about the rest. He used to be at all times utterly cool. “It’s ok, it’s going to get accomplished,” he would say. That morning we went to the fortress. There have been quite a lot of components. The gun got here a bit of overdue. We would have liked some peacocks and that needed to be organized. All in all it used to be a troublesome shoot.
Baba in most cases had a storyboard able. [Ray sketched out his scene sequences in his notebook, which he called ‘kheror khata’, and his filming followed these sketches.] However that day he stated: No want to take a look at the ‘kheror khata’, he knew precisely what to do, he had all of it mapped out in his head. We needed to hurry up now, he stated. After which it used to be like a whirlwind: Baba used to be all over, right here, there, all over, capturing a scene right here, one there. The remainder of us simply may just now not stay alongside of the tempo. The assistants had been diminished to apprehensive wrecks. In that chilly climate the unit individuals had been soaking wet in sweat. In 3 hours flat, the capturing used to be over—75 pictures in all! After which we had been on our manner. It used to be improbable. It used to be all completely accomplished, too, enhancing posed no issues afterward. It displays how photographic his reminiscence used to be, how completely he remembered the collection of scenes so that you can paintings at that pace.
Baba’s photographic reminiscence carried the day. He had at one time noticed numerous Hollywood motion pictures; he used to be hooked on them. Even after 40 years he had a transparent reminiscence of the ones movies. Somewhat like Sidhu Jyatha. Sidhu Jyatha used to be Satyajit. Felu used to be additionally Satyajit.
If we didn’t end capturing in time that day in Jaisalmer, we might pass over the teach, lose our devoted bogie, it might have a domino impact on all our plans. And naturally there used to be the query of bills. Baba used to be very aware of that side, very willing that the manufacturer will have to get again what he used to be making an investment. Fortunately, the manufacturers at all times were given again a lot more.
Sure, he used to be fortunate with places. That area in Benares, the terrace used to be gorgeous, with a view of the Ganga, simply what he wanted, although the inner capturing used to be all accomplished in Calcutta. The outside and the terrace scenes had been shot in that area.
Yet again, he used to be casting about desperately for the correct nation mansion for Jalsaghar; he used to be now not getting it for a very long time. Then he noticed the home of the Nimtita zamindars [in Murshidabad], and he knew it used to be the correct area. He got here again excited and referred to as Tarashankarbabu [Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, author of Jalshaghar]. “I’ve discovered the correct area,” Baba stated. Which one, requested Tarashankar. When Baba stated it used to be the home of the Nimtita zamindars, Tarashankarbabu used to be astonished: “Arrey, the Nimtita zamindar circle of relatives is the only on whom I wrote this tale!” Baba had this type of ordinary good fortune with places, virtually telepathic.
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There’s some other factor he may just do: he may just unerringly are expecting the elements. In all probability it used to be one thing he evolved all through his years in Santiniketan, It’s not that i am positive. I consider an incident from the capturing of the movie Sadgati. There used to be a rain scene in spite of everything, a climactic scene. The rain made the scene very dramatic. Smita Patil and Om Puri had been performing. We had been tenting in Raipur, and from there we went to a spot referred to as Mahasamund for the scene. Baba regarded on the sky and stated: “It will rain. Get able for the scene.” We had been a bit of undecided. What if the rain stopped? We might be left looking forward to when it rained once more. However Baba stated: “It’s going to now not forestall. It’s going to rain lengthy sufficient for my scene.” Then it began raining torrentially. We shot the scene, and 10 mins once we had been accomplished, the rain stopped!
‘Ma used to be at all times there with him’
Speaking about that, I will have to point out my mom first. She used to be at all times there with him on this, proper from the start, encouraging him in each and every manner. I actually don’t suppose Pather Panchali would have were given made with out my mom. Through the years, she attended all shootings, on location and within the studio, and he or she used to be concerned with all facets of the manufacturing. She took an energetic pastime within the movies he made, helped him with casting, and in later years she helped with costumes. She used to be at all times a an important supply of inspiration and beef up for him.
I, too, used to be very concerned with my father’s paintings. We travelled with him when he shot on location, although when I used to be a scholar I used to be now not at all times in a position to accompany the unit. I began taking manufacturing stills somewhat early, and my identify seemed at the identify card of Seemabaddha at the side of Nemai Ghosh’s. I used to be at all times within the post-production a part of film-making, particularly enhancing. From the time of Bala, the documentary on Balasaraswati, Baba requested me to lend a hand with enhancing. I have been doing that anyway, however from that point I began doing it incessantly.