The 1940s to 1970s is considered one of the golden periods of Indian cinema and all through this period the flag of Indian cinema was held by master storytellers like Satyajit Ray.
Earlier, Indian cinema mostly used to be an embodiment of our mythology with no original plots. But post independence golden age led by Bengali cinema gave a new dimension to film making. Film making in this era was mostly inspired by contemporary literature, as a result transforming cinema into a reflection of the socio-political reality of the times.
In 1956, Satyajit Ray gained international recognition at Cannes when his debut film, Pather Panchali won a special award, the Best Human Document. Martin Scorsese had once candidly admitted that Steven Spielberg’s E.T, the Extra Terrestrial was inspired by Satyajit Ray’s The Alien. Unlike many other contemporaries, Satyajit Ray never tried making any political point through his films. His detractors said that Ray never offered any solution to the problems & issues which he captured on screen. His critiques say Ray always refrained from taking a stand, but the fact is that, as a film-maker, Satyajit Ray was not meant to take stands, not meant to score political points as did Mrinal Sen or Bimal Roy. He showed the stark truth of society and found his heroes and protagonists in those dark realism, unlike others who would picturise a fight for one’s rights and the triumph of socialism over capitalism. The master storyteller, Satyajit Ray was a pure soul and a true artist whose only inclination was towards his camera, not any political ideology.
The Sight & Sound critics’ poll ranked Satyajit Ray at no 7 in its list of all time “Top 10 Directors”.
His contemporaries Ritwik Ghatak & Guru Dutt were overshadowed, or overlooked in their own lifetimes but generated international recognition later in the 80s & 90s.
This was an era when free India was bubbling with optimism. There was a youthful exuberance in everything and a confidence of being on one’s own feet post-independence was vividly exhibited in the Cinema of this period.
Without an iota of doubt, I can say that the foundation of Indian cinema has been laid by Bengal. The foundation on which, every corner of the country today has a stake. A journey began with Dada Saheb Phalke’s all important first step & the Ray that guided Indian parallel cinema onto a path of success and influence was led by Satyajit Ray. Symbolically Dada Saheb Phalke was born on 30th April, Satyajit Ray on the 2nd May & Indian Cinema on the 3rd of May.