This year, May 2 marked Satyajit Ray's 95th birth anniversary whose niche in the hall of fame of international cinema is firmly secure. Ray now shares the dizzying heights where only a handful of film-makers stand. As British film-maker Lindsay Anderson once said: “I would compare Satyajit Ray to Eisenstein, Chaplin, Kurosawa, Bergman and Antonioni. He is among the greatest in world cinema.” Now, we bring to you, some lesser-known facts about the life-time achievement Academy Award winner, from Spielberg being accused of borrowing things from Ray's unfinished Hollywood project to his meticulous way of making film and more.
Ray's first feature Pather Panchali took three years to complete filming in which he waited an entire year to maintain continuity in one scene because it featured a certain type of wild flower that bloomed at a particular time of year.
Ray was an amid fan of the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi's Tintin comics and even had some shots of some of the books in his films.
Ray wrote a script for a movie titled The Alien, in 1967 and Columbia Pictures showed interest to produce it while Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando were supposed to play the leads. However, Ray was surprised to find that the script he had co-written had already been copyrighted and with it's fee appropriated. Eventually, he was disillusioned, had enough of Hollywood machinations and returned to India. Columbia was interested in reviving the project in the 1970s and 1980s but nothing came out of it. When Steven Spielberg's Extra-Terrestrial was released in 1982, many saw striking similarities in the film to Ray's earlier script. Ray himself believed that Spielberg's movie “would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies.” Spielberg denied this by saying, “I was a kid in high school when this script was circulating in Hollywood.”
Ray was very fond of Bollywood actor Nana Patekar and wanted to direct him but that never materialised.
Another legendary Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa and Ray were acquainted in a way. Kurosawa praised Ray's work, and once quoted, “To have not seen the films of Ray is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun.”