Mumbai, May 2: Satyajit Ray, the name is not merely a name, embodies emotion of different spectrum. Godfather of Indian Cinema, direction, painting, music direction, whatever he touched that turned into gold. Once he told everywhere talent is rare and he himself stays with glory on that rare list. He is not an individual director, but an enriched film institution.
The legend first stepped into this world on 2nd May 1921. Art was in his blood; his father Sukumar Roy, grandfather Upendra Kishore Roy Choudhury are stars of Bengali Literature. Sukumar Ray first introduced nonsense verse in Indian Literature. He inherited the talent from his family. Having a rich cultural atmosphere, paved his way to becoming the godfather of Indian Cinema. In 1955 he debuted with his first film Pather Panchali (The tale of a little road). The trajectory of Indian Cinema changed afterward.
The music composer of Panther Panchali was Rabi Shankar, the music maestro. When two legends meet, they bring revolution. Yes, the theme music of Pather Panchali is revolutionary and would be remembered forever. Not only, Pandit Ravishankar, he worked with Ustad Vilayet Kha. Though he worked with legends from the circle of Indian Classical Music, he never liked the idea of using only Indian classical in films.
“Because our lifestyle is a mixture anyway,….It no longer retains Indian purity, It’s Thanks to colonial rule or whatever, it’s a mixture now. So if you use purely Indian Classical music, in films which are contemporary in theme and look, urban, It’s wrong it doesn't sound right”, Ray commented once.
Almost every film of Ray reflects a great involvement of fusion music. At the starting of his film life, other composers used to direct music of his movies but later he started himself. Actually according to him, in that period no Indian composer was properly trained to compose music for the film. They were habituated with concert music. Hence, they could not limit their music to a 30-second limit and directors had to cut the music. That was a major problem. Though he never undermined their contributions, as he told, “They were not film composers, they were virtuosos”.
He started experimenting with film music during the shot of Jalshaghar. His knowledge of western classical music helped him. For Jalsaghar’s music, he was searching a texture that composer failed to produce. Ultimately, he used Schubert’s record in reverse direction.
After Jalsaghar, his concentration on background scoring intensified. In a book written by his wife Bijaya Ray, “Amader Kotha” (About us), she has shared the experiences of creating background music. Bijaya Ray had to transform the western stuff notations written by him in Indian Classical notation, as he did not know Indian notation.
A special aspect of Ray’s music is the use of the instrument. In the film “Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen”, the story based on his grandfather’s creation, he himself wrote lyrics for music, composed music, used instrument. He used several folk instruments like Khanjira, Moor-Chan. In Pather Panchali, he used Rajasthani folk though the set up was a village from Bengal. As Ravi Shankar Ji told Music has no language, it unites human from every race, every lifestyle, every nation.
Once he stated, “I can do without music, I can use actual sounds creatively to serve the purpose of music, after all ideally one should be able to do without music completely….Ideally, a film ought to be able to do without music”. That may sound contradictory while he experimented with his film music. But he proved why he is a film institution. In the film Kanchanjangha, we can notice a character who is mentally devastated, confused, where he has used the visual language of film. A boy carrying a bag of metal wastages create a noir which depicts the psychological state of the character.
To describe Ray’s contribution in some words is impossible. On his birthday, the whole nation tries to give a tribute to him. His courage to experiment sets him apart from directors from all ages.