Filmmaker Amol Palekar says the late legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was the first director to break away from the filmmaking models followed by Hollywood and in Mumbai.
Starting his career as a commercial artiste, Ray was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film “Bicycle Thieves” in 1948 during a visit to London.
Palekar was here along with filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan at The Nehru Memorial Museum Library for a discussion on “Revisiting Ray”, a conference and exhibition, on Wednesday. He said it was De Sica’s influence that helped Ray break away from the norms at the time.
“Satyajit Ray was a fountainhead of Indian cinema and every aspect of his filmmaking. Trying to re-analyse him will be a pointless activity. Up until the late 1940s, a love story was told in a linear narrative style. Majority of the filmmakers followed a Hollywood pattern with the only addition of the lip sync music picturised with the actors running around trees. And over the top acting,” said Palekar.
“A greater part of the films were made on sets erected inside studios. The faces of the artistes were glamourised by diffusions and halos were added using a strong back light.
“(Late filmmaker) Guru Dutt’s switch in content from his earlier successful thrillers like ‘Baazi’ and ‘Aar Paar’ to more sensitive films such as ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’, also reflected the impact that was made by the neo-realism moment in Europe at the time.”
Palekar said Dutt and some of the other known filmmakers failed to break the connection, unlike Ray.
“Satyajit Ray was the first Indian director to break away from the Hollywood and Bombay models of filmmaking, that path which Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor failed to pursue,” said Palekar.
Ray made his debut film “Pather Panchali” in 1955.
“His lyrical realism brought the smell, colour, emotions and texture of the Indian soil. The visual depiction, distinct texture, touched the hearts of critics and also his contemporaries. A scantily clad old woman and her infectious smile accentuating her deeply burrowed wrinkles or the details of nature,” said Palekar, who has worked with several known filmmakers like Basu Chatterjee, Shyam Benegal, Tapan Sinha and Ray.
“His style of unfolding emotions was truly original”.