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Childhood Days - A Filmmaker Tells Of Childhood And Cinema

March 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 128

In the immense Hall Of Fame of filmmakers of the last century, India has found its rightful place with the outstanding achievements of Satyajit Ray. An enthusiastic filmmaker, writer of short stories and artist rolled into one, Ray is considered by many as the country's greatest contribution to the field of motion pictures. His influence as a storyteller and craftsman has been marked on today's great living legends like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.

There are many, who also revere Ray as an extraordinary writer of compelling tales of suspense and adventure, tales which went on to be filmed as well. Thanks to publishing biggie Penguin and the efforts of its former head David Davidar, many of the original stories featuring Ray's iconic detective were successfully translated into many languages and went on to be successful as books. However, fortunately, even his memoirs have persisted as they have been translated and compiled together into slim, entertaining volumes.

'Childhood Days' is one such volume of autobiographical pieces coming straight from the pen and pad of the filmmaker himself. Edited and translated by his very wife Bijoya Ray, it is an entertaining and highly readable collection of vignettes of both childhood and filmmaking. In real sense, this is not a single book but two books rolled into one. One shows us an insight into Ray's innocuous and lively childhood and the other takes us to the world of making films.

Ray writes of his simple childhood experiences. These vignettes are packed mostly with Ray's humorous and simplistic introductions to his relatives and family members. He narrates how he enjoyed time with a grand-uncle who was known for enlarging small photographs. He also admits how small inventions like a 'Magic Lantern' or a view of the streets through the slits in windows gave him inspiration to learn the art of photography. Rolled into are delightful recollections of studies and sports at school and enchanting holidays as well.

The second part of the book sees Ray nostalgically recalling some mishaps and adventures that had occurred in shooting some of his memorable films. He describes how he had a tough time with a dog on the set of one of his most celebrated films and how a train gave him problems in the midst of the desert in Rajasthan. He tells of his pursuits, of how he often went on long quests to find locations for scenes. These make up for some rather compelling stuff.

Through these memorable vignettes, we learn much about Ray. His unassuming and congenial attitude to life is ever-present, marking his stories with sincerity and humor. He does not shy from telling his bare beginnings. Ray had a great enthusiasm for travel and culture. Both his holidays and location-hunting trips took him on whirlwind trips to deserts, snowfields, mirages, ancient forts, monuments and other special spots. He learns a lot about these places and tells of them in his memoirs.

Most importantly, we can make out Ray, the artist and dedicated visionary in these stories. Here is the account of a filmmaker who would go to great heights to achieve perfection and continuity in his films. He would also visualize scenes with an artistic flair and would undertake a lot of risk and effort to shoot them on his own. For instance, he would board a heated up coal tender in a railway engine to shoot the smoke with the railway tracks in full view!

With simple, elegant language and packed with humor and emotion, these stories are a must-read for everyone, who wants to know Ray in another light.

Source: EzineArticles
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