Updated: May 3, 2021 4:39:27 pm
Satyajit Ray would have turned 100 today. The centenary celebrations of the iconic filmmaker are muted as the coronavirus pandemic takes a heavy toll on public. Amid this dilemma of how to mark the centenary celebrations of Ray, an artist’s poignant tribute to Ray has left people moved online.
Mumbai-based artist and short-filmmaker, Aniket Mitra reimagined 10 of Ray’s iconic films amid Covid time, and the posters have taken social media by storm. From Pather Panchali to Mahanagar, the 32-year-old highlighted the woes of common people in his homage to the renowned filmmaker, reinterpreting them as people continue to battle the debilitating second wave in the country.
Admitting that this is not a time for celebration, in a candid post, the artist said he decided to pay tribute to Ray, remembering his humble origins, and how he fought hard against life to establish not just a name for himself but “through each of his creations has put Bengalis in the seat of superiority in the world”. He said to remain quiet on his birthday would mean to disregard his struggles and accomplishments.
Adding that as he was writing the post, his phone kept buzzing with hundreds of SOS calls and messages of help, he hoped that through his work, people can find a glimmer of hope and strength to carry on.
“People are helpless today. So today I mixed the story of the struggle of ordinary people with the story of another person’s victory. Maybe the mind can provide a little courage,” Mitra added in his Facebook post, originally written in Bengali.
Talking to IndianExpress, Mitra said that the past couple of weeks have been extremely hard, as he and his friends have been trying to make necessary arrangements for Covid patients and amplifying distress calls. But he says that if Ray would have “been alive, he would have stood by the people,” which motivated him to draw the new posters.
“These sleepless nights have left me scarred for life and I believe there would not have been a better way to celebrate Satyajit Ray’s birthday than to celebrate people who are working in and out to fight the pandemic,” he said over an email interview.
Saying that he had no special plans for Ray’s 100th birth anniversary as such, but it was rather an impromptu thought amid such trying times. “I had no plans. But the current situation is so devastating, I realised it was time to bring in some positive motivation to everyone who has been fighting tirelessly,” he said.
Among his new posters, the one for Devi, aptly depicts a health worker helping a newborn baby, while that of Ganasatru shows a man not wearing a mask properly, personifying the film’s name as enemy of people. From highlighting migrant crisis in poster for Abhijan to showing low oxygen level in a person in Ashani Sanket — the images have a striking resemblance to the present reality.
While all are special and the poster for Jana Aranya, portraying a scene inspired by the mass cremation, is the most poignant one for him. “I came across a lot of people who could not even see their loved ones for that one last time or could do the last rites properly. This has been the biggest reality check for me,” he explained the thought behind the artwork.
Talking about what makes Ray relevant even today, Mitra added: “His characters in all his films and literature are inspired from the ordinary people and their extraordinary journey and that is what makes him relevant every day.”
When asked bout his favourite Satyajit Ray film, he said that his all time favorite is Aranyer Dinratri. However, he said that in the “current scenario in India, I would say Hirak Rajar Deshe.”
As the posters went viral, the artist earned plaudits online as many were left emotional seeing the tribute.
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