The All Ladies League (ALL) Kolkata Chapter under the able stewardship of its Chairperson Ms. Nilaanjana Chakraborty organized a magical evening to celebrate and commemorate the 96th Birth Anniversary of the legendary icon Mr. Satyajit Ray at the JW Marriott on Saturday, 20th May, 2017. The evening was co-sponsored by JW Marriott thanks to Ms. Ranju Alex, who has led the way from day one with her involvement in promoting women’s organizations, and by the Techno India Group’s Manoshi Roychowdhury, who assisted Nilaanjana in putting the evening’s program together.

The Guests of Honor included Satyajit’s son and film maker Mr. Sandip Ray, and a number of Ray’s protégés and stars including Ms. Madhabi Muherjee (of Charulata fame), Ms. Alokananda Roy Banerjee (Kanchenjhunga), Pradip Mukherji (Jana Aranya) and Chandana Banerjee (then child star from Teen Kanya).  Sandip Ray turned what began as a formal Q&A into a typical Adda session, which humanized Satyajit Ray, the ‘iconic’ film director and gave the audience some insights into his personality and genius.

Satyajit answered his own query about “what was wrong with Indian films” through his subsequent masterpieces, and in the end, not only helped to contribute to Indian cinema but through his wordless and subtle visuals, helped shape Indian society, ethos, tenets, morality, art and culture. He forced his audience out of their slumber and made them think! And think they did as far as their imaginations could take them.

Sandip spoke lovingly of his father who gave him a lot of attention and time during his childhood ensuring that they spent the summer vacations in Darjeeling and winter ones in Puri together each year. Sandip followed in his father’s footsteps as a child carrying around his movie camera from the age of 10 learning the craft from the genius.

Pradip Mukherjee praised his mentor for even as an unknown star, Ray trusted him and gave him the latitude to shape the role as he saw fit and noted that between today’s film and one’s made by Ray the only comparison he saw was that of a ‘polluted pond versus an ocean’.

Ray’s women characters held an important place in his movies and just as the director’s natural ability to play a good game of chess; he was able to use a similar strategy in dealing with his cast and crew. He was also able to comprehend children’s psychology and ensured that Alokananda was “acclimatized” to the atmosphere of a film crew even before she began her movie debut. Unlike today’s directors, he discouraged people from learning their lines by heart as he believed that it killed the spontaneity of the film and although his movies were full of drama, they were free from the usual Bollywood melodrama.

The evening also saw beautifully created visuals by school children brought in by the Techno India Group, to interpret Ray’s movies on canvas and the formal evening program concluded with the display of their art-work before the guests of honor. This was followed by a lavish High Tea (including veg and non-veg sandwiches, kathi rolls, Swarmas, patties, burgers, pastries, cakes, eclairs etc.), all lovingly prepared by the JW Marriott.