The Academy recently shared a video showing how they restored the legendary Apu-trilogy by Oscar recipient Satyajit Ray. The Academy Film Archive started the preservation project post the 64th Academy Awards in 1992, when Ray received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to world cinema. So, it took more than 20 years for the team at work… Incredible! Isn’t it?
The process was rigorous and the endeavor is worth a standing ovation!
The three films Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) — based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee changed the paradigm of Indian cinema to say the least. Albeit all the challenges such as mangled film reels to missing and beaten-up clip sections, the restoration team reinstated something that marked the uprising of Indian cinema in true sense.
This humble post is a signature of gratitude to all those people who put in their efforts to preserve one of the classics of international cinema. All said and done, you must watch this short video which they called, ‘An act of faith – saving the Apu trilogy’ and I am sure you will second my thoughts that will follow…
Ray received an academy award and he is lucky that his works are reciprocated with the same honor received by his western counterparts. However, are we equally concerned about the preservation of classics from other film makers from India who equally contributed to the developing finesse Indian film art?
Although there are efforts from Shivendra Singh Dungarpurwho formed the Film Heritage Foundation, there is still a lot to achieve and the efforts from the Academy Film Archive and The Criterion Collection, and L’Immagine Ritrovata speaks volumes about that.
Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture with the hope that the classics from veterans like Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and the likes receives the same treatment in the near future!
Robin Wood, Film Critic (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. ”
In a 1948 article entitled, “What is Wrong with Indian Films,” Ray criticized India’s movement away from art and towards either musicals or heavy mysticism:
“The raw material of the cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting and music and poetry should fail to move the movie maker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.”
After thousands of years of cultural ecstasy any individual will tend to believe that cinema, rather Indian cinema would reflect something of a corresponding breadth and depth. Unfortunately, in India, quite the contrary is true, especially after the explosion of trade affairs associated with the art of film making and a development of entertainment industry known as “Bollywood”. It is quite evident that the low tastes of people are governed by the media…
In an attempt to describe and rate movies, the basic ethnicity of human instincts gets deceived very spontaneously. A film get released, hits the theaters, welcomed or rejected by audiences and then people speak about its success or failure stories. The entire routine of film making is more than what is described by the film critics in India. I wouldn’t have hesitated to name a few of them; however, a sense of gratification encapsulates my latent wishes. I am not writing this to criticize film critics in India, rather to reform the whole practice of film criticism in India. In one of my other articles in my-motion-picture, I voiced my opinion about development of authentic motion picture criticism in India and here I would like to speak some basic things about a proper film criticism. An expert observation and a comprehensive perception of the entire film should be the words of the film critic who happens to earn his living through these appraisals and excerpts.
If Pather Panchali marked an era in Indian film industry where potential contenders are recognized worldwide, the director of the film, Satyajit Ray should be accountable for his contribution towards the development of the film industry. Be it the Mumbai industry (Bollywood) or the prominent regional film industries in India. In one of his writings, Ray spoke about the dicey reviews and unprofessional approach of the film critics not only in India but also a few hailing from some developed countries of the world. In his words, “Since film critics repeatedly said that Pather Panchali was my best film, it naturally evoked a question in my mind; hasn’t the effect of criticism been beneficial to my art?”
Long times; many a springs and autumns are wasted. We are living in 2013 and still film criticism in India is merely a profession where the so called intellectuals draw money for describing box office reports and how an item number is so high on the list of a commercial radio channel chart-buster! Pity… In terms of a promising criticism, a genuine film critic should ideally be a bridge between the film maker and the audiences. Some of the films made might not be ideal for the audiences of a particular region. Or, an adaptation from a novel might require some basic changes which should be readily accessible and reasonable to a film critic. However, the critics I read are mostly after the directors if a film fails to appeal in the first week. Similarly they praise some senseless cinemas which might see some bright opening due to the presence of a super star. I would echo Ray again and would like to request these film reviewers to drop their pens and rather establish their identity as someone from the crowd.
A film critic should have the knowledge and insight of the entire process of film making from scripting to editing. He should be clear with his sentences and descriptions which will enlighten the audiences about the pros and cons of a movie. I personally believe that a film maker or director hardly needs to know anything more about his own film. He knows where his movie excelled and what the limitations were. He, as a director has anchored the entire team to produce something that he would expect audience to relate to. In this scenario, if a critic cannot substantiate his words and describe the merits and demerits of the film, it is surely going to irritate the director. A critic, as I already mentioned, should recognize that a film is not a personal creation rather a joint venture. He should understand that a bad movie is not entirely the result of poor direction; a blockbuster is similarly a collective effort where the director should get a major share of the praise.
The problem does not evoke a sense of emergency among the readers of this article. Accepted! But, as an audience you should also accept your money going wayward. You tend to believe reports from people who hardly connect with the art of film making. Bribes and personal endorsement from the producers ensure the box office results and then after those cold and rough three hours you have a tendency to accept the bleak prospects of a mindless film. A good movie fails to reach more audiences due to the similar reasons. How will the audience assess a movie when the preacher speaks ill of it without knowing the basic aesthetics of film making.
In this entire course of the article, I wanted to encourage new-age film students to come in front and take up the onus of describing films and its deeper implications. Film is a form of art that requires the collective effort of other artists and thus as a critic you should have the understanding of each of those sections, at least the basics. Satyajit Ray’s famous quote on his decision of making music for his films, “Ever since Two Daughters I’ve been composing my own music.” speaks vividly about the importance of a basic aptitude in all the forms of art that constitute a movie.
Motion pictures or films are almost like daughters to a director. They are nourished, fed, molded, reformed and corrected for so many reasons to be that piece of art. The art that causes tears and laughter in the theaters, that creation which demands claps and praises from the audiences and that piece of commerce which will fetch trust and money for the producer who believed in the concept of the film. So, let film criticism evolve as an art in itself and not a duping profession that manages to draw a salary out of some dead words.
Signing off from the desk of my-motion-picture till critics rises with a new sun as the key-light of scenes and cinemas in India…
An effort to materialize a vision, a dream and an imagination is reciprocated by one and all if and only if you have the courage to define the form of art that you want to profess, preach and practice. Cinema is a huge subject which tends to have its direct effects on my imagination and vision towards life. As an Indian citizen, I feel immense pride and pleasure to announce that a master of this art form was born in our country. He made his countrymen feel the pompous and gave them the opportunity to taste victory over their international counterparts in the field of cinema. India was marked in the map of International film industry after Satyajit Ray came into the picture.
The period was 1955; exactly 57 years ago the release of “Pather Panchali” marked the beginning of an era of “Neo-Realism” in Indian cinema. Satyajit Ray, son of the famous poet Sukumar Ray came to the fore front representing India and managed to earn a fair bit of respect in the World of cinema. Over the next four decades his work was praised and acknowledged by film critiques and general mass all over the world. He is rightly regarded as one of the finest film-makers this world ever experienced. Even today, he continues to be an inspiration for all the upcoming film makers of this country. He still holds the most respected position as an Indian film maker in the international film circuit. He was truly the master of this art.
Ray was one of the prolific writers that Bengal and India had. Apart from his achievements in the world of cinema, he wrote many novels. Short stores, essays on cinema and his views about Indian and foreign films. His articles were a treat for the readers and his work for children remain etched on your mind. He worked his way out in between immense constraints and defeated physical and material causes which were hindrances to his creative work. His dedication towards work and his urge to excel helped him to overcome every odd situation that came through his way.
In this post, I hardly have the opportunity to speak something which will really imply and describe his enormous popularity and his huge credibility in the field of art and culture. However, I would like to dedicate my blog, my wishes and my dreams to this man and expect to be a part of his vision which actually gave him the courage to stand out from the crowd and leave an autograph on the minds of every Indian film lover. I would like to demonstrate life with pictures which have motion and my-motion-picture depicts every bit of his struggle towards excellence, failures that taught him lessons, success that made him urge for more and accolades that made him an institution in the field of cinema.