Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), film director extraordinary, writer, Bengali cultural icon and scion of a clan noted for the contributions of several of its members to literature and art, was probably the most widely known creative artiste of India in the second half of the 20th century. Indeed, since the decease of Tagore, no other Indian has been as famous globally and received as much public admiration and critical acclaim all over the world as Ray. And any history of the screen and its evolution ever to be written in the future must necessarily devote an entire detailed chapter to his immortal ouevre.
Ray's medium having been the cinema, his work has not suffered from the difficulties of translation that hinders a poet's reach beyond the confines of his own vernacular circle. His films have reached millions all over the world, subtitles ably aiding the visual eloquence of his camera. Especially, such of his period films as Charulata and Jalsaghar whose appeal is universal have found their way into millions of houeseholds, university libraries and film clubs in the West as well as the East, and this dispersion has been facilitated by the advent and easy availability of the video-cassette player.
On his films, volumes have been written, and still more are expected to appear in the years to come; several biographies written with his consent and cooperation are available; and over the decade following his death, his name and memory have begun to be celebrated on the internet. Parabaas considers it a pleasure and a privilege to make a major contribution to the faithful preservation of his legacy on the net and wishes thereby to introduce the contemporary generation in the new century to his oeuvre. In this bilingual portal devoted to his work, not only are his films discussed and reinterpreted to suit the cultural needs of the new century, his somewhat less known contributions to literature too are given the pride of place that they deserve. Non-Bengalis are less aware than is desirable, that his detective novels, stories of the supernatural and science fiction, continue to hold the highest positions on best seller lists, ahead of the productions of the foremost specialist writers of Bengal.
Our readers and patrons have made the contributions on Ray and his work that appear here, and it is our sincere hope that we shall be able to add more in the future; we encourage our esteemed readers to send us their observations on the several aspects of Ray's work, thus enabling us to gradually build up a reliable collection of material on his life and legacy on the internet, for our own amusement and instruction and for the satisfaction of the archival needs of future generations.
Illustration by: Rajat Baran Chakraborty
Published November 15, 2002