Director: Satyajit Ray
Four friends living in Calcutta go on an excursion by car to the forests of Palmau. Arriving in a village, they seek accommodation in a hostel and, as they have not made a reservation, to be admitted they must bribe the caretaker, who risks losing his job, but needs the money, as his wife is ill. The self-confident young men show little respect for the villagers. Half a century later, the film never ceases to amaze and still thrills viewers every time they watch it for the nuances and layers behind its characters, for the interplay of subtle human emotions in contrast to the majestic backdrop of the forest, deep but lively at the same time.
Satyajit Ray was born in Calcutta in 1921. Son of Sukumar Ray, one of the leading figures of the Bengali literary scene, in 1940 he graduated in economics from the University of Calcutta and went to work as an illustrator at Tagore University in Viswa-Bharati. He made his directorial debut in 1955 with the eponymous adaptation of the 1928 novel Pather Panchali (“Song of the Road”), which began his trilogy on the life of the young Apu, followed by Aparajito (“The Invincible”, 1956) and Apur Sansar (“Apu’s World”, 1959). This was the basis for the rise of his reputation as one of the country’s best filmmakers. In addition to being a director, he was a screenwriter, composer of the soundtrack, editor and designer of the credits and publicity material for his films. Throughout his extensive film career, Ray received as many as 36 Indian National Film Awards, a Golden Lion, two Silver Bears, as well as the Bharat Ratna, India’s most prestigious civilian award. Almost a month before his death, he became the first Indian to receive an Honorary Oscar in 1992.