It was 1982. The setting: the first ever exhibition of Satyajit Ray’s artwork at the Taj Gallery in Mumbai. Ray presented two sketches of Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor to the two icons. Dilip Kumar bowed in respect and shook Ray’s hand in admiration. Raj Kapoor cried in ecstasy “Wah Manikda”. Others such as Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Smita Patil and Amjad Khan broke into spontaneous applause.
Now three decades after the first exhibition, the Presidency College alumni of Mumbai in association with the Ray Society is organising another exhibition of Ray’s works at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai from February 14 to 16. Ray’s son Sandip, Arup De (CEO, Ray Society) Dhritiman Chatterjee and Tinu Anand, who was an assistant to Ray, will be present at the exhibition.
Says De, “I am optimistic about the exhibition. After a long gap Mumbaikars can witness the works of the multitalented Ray. The exhibition will consist of photographs that Ray shot of Uttam Kumar and Akira Kurosawa as well as shots of Darjeeling, Sikkim and London. His sketches of Feluda’s drawing room, an unused title card of Joy Baba Felunath and the ghost dance sketches of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne will form some of the major exhibits. There will also be some advertisement artworks drawn by him during his tenure at DJ Kemer (later Bates Clarion Advertising).”
From scripting and directing to composing music and drawing sketches of his characters in his scripts and even costume designing, Ray was a master of all. Says Sandip Ray, “My father’s works have a rare blend of reality, serenity and asthetics. It is wrong to say he had bad vibes with the film industry of Mumbai. He equally appreciated an Ankur and a Sholay. Similarly the entire Hindi film fraternity admired him.”
Ray had once observed, “In Mumbai scripts are made. They are not written.” At the same time, he openly praised every piece of commendable work in Hindi. In 1982, Ray went on record saying, “I like the uninhibited attitude of the actors of Mumbai. They are ready to experiment, where Bengal lacks talent.”
There are countless anecdotes of the Hindi film industry’s appreciation of Satyajit Ray. Manoj Kumar remembers, “I was shooting for Hariyali Aur Rasta at Darjeeling during the early ’60s. I noticed the tall and confident Satyajit Ray standing and noting all the aspects of nature including sunrise and sunset in his notebook. I was amazed at his dedication and sense of detail. He was to shoot a year later, yet he was there at the location to conduct his homework well in advance.”
He was the pioneer who introduced oriental culture in advertising in India. Govind Nihalani admits, “An exhibition of Ray’s work will be a lesson for all who care for serious cinema. Satyajit Ray remains not only India’s but also one of the best in international cinema. Personally, I shared an excellent vibe with him. Whenever I was at Kolkata we discussed each other’s works. He never failed to appreciate my kind of cinema. I still cherish Ray’s hospitality, the samosas and jalebis I shared with him over tea”.