A Ray Beyond Oblivion

Clockwise from top left: Pather Panchali (1955); Nayak (1966); Jalsaghar (1958); Charulata (1964); Sonar Kella (1974); Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1968); Joi Baba Felunath (1979); Ghare Baire (1984); Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977); Devi (1960); Apur Sansar (1959); Hirak Rajar Deshe (1980).

Not to have seen the cinema of Ray
means existing in the world
without seeing the sun
or the moon.”
(Akira Kurosawa)

1929. An eight year old kid, was visiting Santiniketan with his mother. Hidden inside his pocket was a newly bought autograph book. Gliding gently to where Rabindranath Tagore was seated, he mustered some courage and whispered into his ears: “Will you please write something for me?” and then presented a blank page from the autograph book. Tagore smiled, and told him, “Leave it here with me. Come and take it tomorrow.”

The following day Tagore gave him back the book, with a few lines scribbled on one of the pages; then softly told his mother, “One day he’ll understand the depth of these lines; not now, after a few years.”
These were the lines:

“বহু দিন ধরে বহু ক্রোশ দূরে
বহু ব্যয় করি বহু দেশ ঘুরে
দেখিতে গিয়েছি পর্বতমালা,
দেখিতে গিয়েছি সিন্ধু
দেখা হয় নাই চক্ষু মেলিয়া
ঘর হতে শুধু দুই পা ফেলিয়া
একটি ধানের শিষের উপরে
একটি শিশির বিন্দু।”

(“I traveled miles, for many a year,
I spent a lot in lands afar,
I’ve gone to see the mountains,
The oceans, I’ve been to view.
But I haven’t seen with these eyes
That, two steps from my home lies,
On a sheaf of paddy grain,
A glistening drop of dew.”)

How prescient Tagore was when he wrote those lines, because this kid was going to become one of the greatest auteurs of world cinema in the coming years!

He was a man of magnificence; he was a man of substance.
He was a thinker of great capacity, but a bearer of simplicity.
He gave Indian films and storytelling a new way.
He was none other than, Satyajit Ray!

To Ray, a film was pictures, words, movement, drama, music, and story – thousands of expressive visual and aural elements bound by a magical coherence. He may be long gone, but the iconic director, fiction writer, illustrator, and calligrapher – who transported Indian cinema far beyond the country’s borders – lives forever in the hearts of many.

A humble tribute from my side to the greatest Indian filmmaker on his 92nd birth anniversary: 

Every time we seek
Every moment we fail,
To retrace and relive
The same old trail.

Tides of ticking time
Seem excessively strong,
Trying to wash off
The memories of long.

Time surely is cruel,
How fast does it fly!
And moments pass by,
With the blink of an eye.

Yet artfully well
The mind does preserve:
The works of marvel,
It barely fails to observe.

A few vivid words
It borrows from time;
Drapes them together,
In a jovial rhyme.

These are the motion pictures
With aromas from the past:
Which rejuvenate our lives,
When we move too fast.

Keep these valued pearls
Forever close to your heart,
As life shall become void
If any of those depart.

We all have to travel
Until the day we die;
But the world that Ray created,
Beyond oblivion shall ever lie.

The poem has a subtle reference to Pather Panchali (1955), Ray’s greatest work which won eleven international prizes, including Best Human Documentary at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

12 comments on “A Ray Beyond Oblivion

  1. Your posts reinforce my belief that writing skill is a high form of fine art! Lots of people know how to scribble, a few know how to write! And you sir, are at the top, the very top of the list of the select few!

  2. On my journey through the blogworld, till date I’ve come across two “beacons” bright enough to spread its light over parts of my inners milieu that very few people of “our time” are able to relate with; one, certainly is “this” sphere, Tanumoy.
    My visits here are just very new and few, however, every post I have read speaks in a very refined language, about subjects of profound significance — a rare speech certainly!
    This yet again is another brilliant piece — and the poem is woven together with essence of “humane” factors reflecting Ray’s masterful contributions to this (at times cold) world! And, as an ardent lover of art-house cinema, I cannot help but ask where all the great mind’s have gone.

    • I just can’t disagree with a single word you wrote: perfectly woven with the right measures of spark and sublimity.
      Ray is one of those identities who can charm you, make you time-travel, and still hold you back to your roots, firm and flawless. Not just because I have a Bengali heritage behind me, but also as a global human being I have this feel: this feel when I watch the ‘Pather Panchali’, every single time… it just hurls me into some spiral galactic web of reflections. 🙂

      And yes, it surely will take a lot of insightful and humane mindset for today’s movie-makers to make atleast ‘one’ film that Ray could conjure up.

      Really glad and immensely humbled to know that my tribute’s beacon could touch the shores of your thoughts. *bow* 🙂

  3. Through love (so simple isn’t it), we live far beyond our lives……… The wise are only wise because they love. Beautiful tribute, Tanumoy. ~ Love ever, Bobbie

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