Recalling the criticism levelled against legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray for shying away from real and political issues, National Award-winning director Govind Nihalani said the icon took it in his stride and later acknowledged the fact that filmmakers must be connected to reality.
Nihalani highlighted how Ray, who faced flak from critics for “pedalling poverty and damaging the image of India internationally”, became “sensitive” when it was said that his films steered away from realities and political issues, during the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at the ongoing 20th Kolkata International Film Festival here Friday.
The 73-year-old veteran said Ray had, post his heart attack in 1983, wanted to adapt author Mahasweta Devi’s play “Beej” into a film, a decision based on his acceptance of criticism.
“When I asked him why he chose this subject, Ray said there was a lot of criticism about me and I have been criticised for not having made any political film or a film that deals with the reality around me”.
“I felt he has faced criticism for so long and suddenly he is feeling sensitive about this. Somewhere he must have felt that it is important for filmmakers to be connected with reality,” reminisced Nihalani.
The maker of films such as “Aakrosh”, “Ardh Satya”, “Drohkaal” and “Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa”, Nihalani’s tryst with Ray began with a photographic session in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) about four decades ago.
“Later when I made my first film ‘Aakrosh’, I was keen to show it to him but didn’t know how to go about it. From a friend who was acquainted with Ray, I got to learn that he had watched the film and liked the film and had said the film had some bravura moments”.
“I was so relieved that he didn’t have a negative reaction and for a person like Ray to say that the film had some bravura moments it was more than I could expect,” Nihalani said.
Subsequently, Nihalani met Ray in Mumbai, where he quizzed him about his forthcoming venture, a telefilm called “Pikoo’s Day”.
“He described the film from the first to the last shot. Everybody fell silent. He was a great narrator,” said the director.