Critics on Ray
"Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without
seeing the sun or the moon."
Adib, Times of India, 1956
"There is nothing glib here. There is nothing patchy. Nothing spills
over the edges. Everything is clear and in focus. The images speak and
we listen with our eyes."
Robert Steel, Montage Special
Issue on Satyajit Ray, 1966
"[When] I did see [Pather Panchali]... I was bowled over. Here
was an Indian film that was a film or that matched my concept
of a film and a great one at that. It was the first film made in India
that I had ever seen which did not embarrass, annoy, or bore me."
Stanley Kauffman, A World on Film, 1958
"To one who has seen Part One, two things are now evident. The film
now seems better than it did because the second was made; and the director,
Mr. Ray, is in the process of creating a national film epic unlike anything
— in size and soul — since the Soviet Maxim trilogy of 1938-40.
Further, as a record of a people's life, in its daily travail and its
largest aspects, it bears comparison with Flaherty's Nanook and
"Pather Panchali is perhaps the finest
piece of filmed folklore since Robert Flaherty's Nanook
of the North. It is a pastoral poem dappled with the
play of brilliant images and strong, dark feelings, a luminous revelation
of Indian life in language that all the world can understand."
Pauline Kael, I Lost It At The Movies, 1965
"Like Renoir and DeSica, Ray sees that life itself is good no matter
how bad it is. It is difficult to discuss art which is an affirmation
of life, without fear of becoming maudlin. But is there any other kind
of art, on screen or elsewhere? 'In cinema,' Ray says, 'we must select
everything for the camera according to the richness of its power to reveal.'
Ray is sometimes (for us Westerners, and perhaps for Easterners also?)
a little boring, but what major artist outside film and drama isn't? What
he has to give us is so rich, so contemplative in approach (and this we
are completely unused to in the film medium — except perhaps in
documentary), that we begin to accept out lapses of attention during the
tedious moments with the same kind of relaxation and confidence and affection
that we feel for the boring sketches in the great novels, the epic poems."
Robin Wood,The Apu Trilogy, 1972
"Can we [the Western audience] feel any confidence that we are adequately
understanding, intellectually and emotionally, works which are the product
of a culture very different from our own?... What is remarkable is how
seldom in Ray's films the spectator is pulled up by any specific obstacle
arising from cultural differences... Ray is less interested in expressing
ideas than in communicating emotional experience."
Chidananda Das Gupta, Talking About Films,
"Neither these more terrible aspects of our society, nor the poetry
of anguish generated by the struggle of the 'Ravindriks' to cope with
them are reflected in Ray's films. In fact wherever he has taken a tentative
step toward them, Ray has tended to burn his fingers. Take Abhijaan
for instance; the attempt to enter the underworld of the working class
results in total failure. And the reasons for the failure is that it cannot
be drawn from the myths and types of the Tagore world."
Nargis Dutt (quoted in Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia
of Indian Cinema, 1995)
"[Nargis] mounted a scathing attack on Satyajit Ray's films for 'exporting
images of India's poverty," in the Parliament as an M.P. in the 1980s."
Rajadhyaksha Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema,
"[Ray's] films mostly seen as relating to the ideological liberalism
of Nehru, and... to Ray's artistic and intellectual mentor Rabindranath
George Lucas, Producer/Screenwriter,1991
"Satyajit Ray is an extraordinary filmmaker with a long and illustrious
career who has had a profound influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout
the world. By honoring Satyajit Ray, the Academy will help bring his work
to the attention of a larger public, particularly to young filmakers,
on whom his work will certainly have a positive effect."
Elia Kazan, Director, 1991
"I want to add my voice to those of Scorsese and Merchant in asking the
Academy grant Satyajit Ray an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award.
I have admired his films for many years and for me he is the filmic voice
of India, speaking for the people of all classes of the country... He
is the most sensitive and eloquent artist and it can truly be said in
his case that when we honor him we are honoring ourselves."
James Ivory, Director, 1991
"Satyajit Ray is among the world's greatest directors, living or
dead... Isn't it curious that the newest, the most modern of the arts,
has found one of its deepest, most fluent expressions in the work of an
artist like Ray, who must make his seamless films — many have been
masterpieces — in a chaotic and volatile corner of one of the world's
oldest cultures, amidst the most stringent shortages of today's advanced
movie-making material and equipment?... It would be fitting to honour
this great man, who has influenced so many other film makers in all parts
of the world, and to salute him with a Lifetime Award
in the spring of 1992."
Martin Scorcese, Director, 1991
"We would like to bring to your attention, and to the attention of
the distinguished board of directors of the Academy, a master filmmaker,
Satyajit Ray... Though somewhat unwell, during the past few years he has
completed two additional films, centered around his deeply humanitarian
vision. His work is in the company of that of living contemporaries like
Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini."
John Schlesinger, Director/Producer/Writer, 1991
"...his extraordinary body of work has not only greatly influenced
so many filmmakers, but has profoundly affected their humanitarian attitude.
The seeming 'simplicity' of his films is the mark of a truly great master
and I would be overjoyed if he were to be honored by the Academy."
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
"Out of his great body of work, my own particular favorite is his
film Charulata. Although he was such a superb visual artist,
Ray's main inspiration was literary. He always wrote his own scripts (as
well as directing them and composing his own original score!) and his
greatest films were all adaptations of favorite novels and stories, including
Charulata, which was based on a novella by Tagore. It doesn't
seem to matter through what medium — novels, plays, films, music
— the most potent influences reach us. All great works stimulate
a hopeful emulation that ends occasionally, as in the films of Satyajit
Ray, in radiant success — ensuring the continuation of this business
of influence and inspiration that makes us all try and try and try again."
Suranjan Ganguly, Satyajit Ray, In Search of the
"It is true that the India Ray describes betrays his own bourgeois
affiliations, since it caters largely to the interests of his class...
[more relevant] is the question of how representative is Ray's India?"
Darius Cooper, The Cinema of Satyajit Ray, Between
Tradition and Modernity, 2000
"Beneath the variety of narrative discourses that he develops, Ray
is intent in telling us another story. In film after film, he investigates
India's social institutions and the power structures to which they give
rise, or vice versa. He works out, in concrete terms, the conflicts and
issues of his times, both in his own state of Bengal and in the larger