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Contents: Special commemorative issue: 100 years of Satyajit Ray – the indefinable genius (Issue 58)

Contents: Special commemorative issue: 100 years of Satyajit Ray – the indefinable genius (Issue 58)

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Contributors

Contributors

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An introduction to the special commemorative issue on the centenary of Satyajit Ray (1921-2021)

By Roshni Sengupta
This special commemorative issue of Café Dissensus attempts to understand and revisit Ray’s immense range of work – from pathbreaking films to books to the astonishingly everyman crime-busting hero he managed to make immortal – Feluda. With the focus on his genre-defying cinematic productions, the issue also brings together writings on Ray as a multi-faceted and consummate artist.

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Cinema, Ray and the Art of Adaptation

By Sharad Raj
This article chooses to remember the maestro by examining two of his brilliant cinematic adaptations, Charulata (1964) adapted from Rabindranath Tagore’s novella, Nashtonir (Broken Nest) and Mahanagar (1963) an adaptation of Abatarnika (The decay/climb down), a short story by Narendranath Mitra.

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Aesthetic enclosure and insurgent critique in Ray’s fantasy fables

By Sayandeb Chowdhury
Ray uses the fantasy form – abounding in an instinctive play of innocence, high-spirited musicality, and underdog triumph – to mount two substantial critiques about the absurdity of needless war, and the evil ministrations of fanatical totalitarianism.

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A Tale of Mind and Matter: Ray’s Search for Aestheticism within Modernity

By Sayan Chatterjee
It is unsurprising that the sensitive and creative litterateur Apu, who is a stranger to neither poverty nor death of loved ones, would find inspiration in the struggle of these writers against worldly sufferings and their eventual triumph through art.

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Ray’s Artistry and Reflection of European Neorealism in Indian Cinema

By Shambhu Nath Banerjee
The year 1955 was a turning point in the history Indian cinema as well. The whole world bowed to the craftsmanship of a young Indian director for his outstanding portrayal of rural life in black and white on the big screen. The golden rise of Satyajit Ray during the period of 1955 to 1959 gained momentum with the making of three films in a row: Pather Panchali (The Song of the Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished, 1956), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu, 1959).

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The politics at the heart of Satyajit Ray’s filmmaking

By Joy Sengupta
Satyajit Ray – the name elicits a nostalgia for classical narrative and aesthetics, in cineastes, across India, a sense of parochial sentimental pride in the heart of a senior Bengali bhadralok, and a reverence all round, for pioneering the Indian cinematic footprint in the global art cinema space.

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The Calcutta Trilogy: A Comparative Study of the Political Films of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen

By Pratyusha Pramanik
During this socio-economic turmoil, when ‘Indira was India, and India was Indira’, Calcutta was under the rule of Congress, and Naxalism was still brewing in the dark corners of the city. It was around this time that Satyajit Ray – Pratidwandi (The Adversary), Seemabaddha (Company Limited), and Jana Aranya (The Middleman) and Mrinal Sen – Interview, Calcutta 71, and Padatik (The Guerrilla Fighter) – presented their Calcutta Trilogies, a set of six movies set in the backdrop of the various incidents which were surely a reflection of the socio-political conditions of not just Bengal but all of India.

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The Subterraneous Discourse of Caste Politics in ‘Pather Panchali’

By Samrita Sinha
The one where little Apu and the adolescent Durga run through a field of white flax to catch a glimpse of the train, an entity of technological wonder and marvel in their rural context. This scene and its mnemonic implications for the audience are that it symbolised a metaphorical leap towards an eternal hope, so characteristic of childhood as depicted by Ray.

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Breaking Free: Indian women in Satyajit Ray’s films

By Blanka Katarzyna Dżugaj
What can be fascinating in Satyajit Ray’s movies for a woman interested in gender studies in audiovisual arts and a resident of Eastern Europe? A visionary approach to the film technique, a perfect narrative, unique style, intuition? Absolutely, but most of all, an extraordinary understanding of the female psyche and courage in expressing female emotions, needs, and desires – the same features that the world today admires so much in the works of the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar.

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The Curious Case of Fulidi

By Debnita Chakravarti
Surely then, if the most famous detective of Bengali fiction had a sister who possessed all his intellectual faculties along with his thirst for justice, would she live a life very different from the ill-fated and anachronically-born Judith?

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Setting out in the Real World isn’t a Cakewalk: On Satyajit Ray’s Timeless ‘Mahanagar’ (1963)

By Prithvijeet Sinha
Mahanagar (1963) is one of the most balanced portrayals of the real-life struggles in middle-class families, both at a particular and universal level. Let's face it then that times may have changed, and the man-to-woman ratio of working individuals may have tripled. But in a whirling male-dominated economy, tilting the scales in favor of an equitable representation for females is still a challenging proposition for thousands.

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Enchantment as Pedagogy in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’ (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha)

By Paromita Patranobish
I wish to examine the particular ideological function and semiotic valence of music in Satyajit Ray's 1968 film, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, henceforth GGBB) as an expressive modality made to traverse seemingly polarised forms of instruction/pedagogy and enchantment/fantasy.

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Saree-r paar, rosogolla, and Ray

By Aratrika Das
But the hungry faces continue to appear in Ray’s films. In the Apu trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959), Apu and Durga’s mother, Sarbajaya, is constantly worried about food and feeding. The old aunt, Indir Thakrun, is desperately hungry. In Pather Panchali (Song of the Road, 1955), misti signposts a lack, it is something that young hungry villagers desire and cannot have. Misti foregrounds the protagonists as pitiable bodies.

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The Everyman in Ray’s Cinema

By Indrasish Banerjee
These three traits characterize almost all the characters that Ray created or adopted from literature for his films. Apu, in Aparajito, had all three of them, so did Manomohan Mitra, in Agantuk. The three characteristics lift them from mediocrity.

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Soumitra, and the Evolution of a Fan

By Rituparna Roy
Soumitra thus entered my life in my school days. Not a unique story, that; what was, was that I saw him most in a role that he never played on screen – as Amit Ray, of Shesher Kabita. In the 70 mm of my mind! This is how it began: a Bournvita Quiz Contest question on a Sunday on the novella had my mother summarizing the story for me. The rest of the day was spent reading it, and the next few days translating some favourite passages in my diary.

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Imagining Bengal’s Past: Dance in Ray’s Cinema

By Debanjali Biswas
One of the reasons Ray chose to adapt Jalsaghar onto celluloid was because it offered ample scope for music and dance, or ingredients for a marketable, successful film. To satiate his audience, Ray shows three jalsa-s – the occurrence of each is also linked with the social impact of transition in patronage.

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