As India celebrates her 75th year of Independence that coincides with Satyajit Ray’s birth centenary year, IFFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award received by thespians will henceforth be called the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Cinema from this year.
This year, at IFFI 2021, when Oscar-winning Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Szabo received the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award, he reminisced about the time he met with Satyajit Ray more than three decades ago in what was then Madras. “Ray invited me and my wife for dinner, which was excellent. We had a fantastic discussion on his films and filmmaking, our profession. It was a profound discussion that I will never forget.”
“The radiant charismatic face of Ray and his spirit will be etched in my memory forever,” said Istvan Szabo, thanking IFFI for presenting the recognition in the name of his friend of yore.
Hollywood filmmaker Martin Scorsese, also conferred with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award at the IFFI-52 Opening Ceremony, spoke at length, in a tribute and an acknowledgement of how Ray had influenced him. “I cannot tell you how proud I am to be receiving an award named after Satyajit Ray. Ray is one of my masters, he is one of the filmmakers whose work I have returned to over the years in my life. My love for his work began when I saw Pather Panchali, it was a revelatory experience for someone growing up in the West. This was opening a whole new world to me…I actually found a record of improvisations of Pather Panchali by Ravi Shankar and took it to my parents at home in New York. They were working class people who had never heard this kind of music before.”
Satyajit used his lens to “get into the psyche of a character…to make characters come alive on screen,” said Associate Professor of the Department of Film Editing, Film and Television Institute of India A. V. Narayanan while holding a Masterclass on ‘Directorial Practices of Satyajit Ray’, on 23 November 2021 during IFFI 2021.
“Understanding of lenses and magnification was crucial for him. As he did storyboarding from his first film, shot break-down and editing became quite easier after that,” said the professor.
FTII’s Associate Professor Ms Ganga Mukhi said, “Satyajit Ray believed that our cinema must have a language of its own…His films connect with everyone in spite of geographical and language barriers.”
As a tribute, IFFI 2021 will witness physical screenings of Satyajit Ray’s films throughout the festival. Also, Prime Video will be streaming Ray’s evergreen films between 20-28 November 2021.