The Indian centenary of cinema continues merrily with films like Chennai Express minting money, and the odd ones such as Vijay’s Thalaivaa and John Abraham’s Madras Café provoking the ire of political organisations.
Sadly, in this merry run, there seems to be no berth for Indian movie giants like Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aravindan, John Abraham, Girish Kasaravalli and so on.
Even actors like Sivaji Ganesh or Balraj Sahani or Raj Kapoor or Smitha Patil or Shabana Azmi or Aparna Sen appears to have been left by the wayside. And what about legendary singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and even some of the great lyricists both in the South and the North?
The celebration does not even look like Bollywood centric. It is more of a small coterie which seems to be hogging all the limelight.
While India continues with its callousness towards its cinema masters, the West looks more keyed in and respectful of the big Indian names in this centenary year.
Come September 6, Ray’s two early classics, Pather Panchali and Aparajito will be screened at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in LA. The third of the Apu trilogy, Apur Sansar, will be shown on September 9.
Indian actress Sharmila Tagore (who rose to fame with Apur Sansar) and Dilip Basu, founder-director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Centre in Santa Cruz, USA, will attend these screenings.
The rest of the 19 movies will be shown at Santa Monica, and will include some of the master’s most sought-after works like Charulata and Jalsaghar.
Also, the Academy will in association with the British Film Institute and the Australian Film Museum screen the restored works.
What about us in India? Are we not going to enjoy the privilege of watching the all-time greats of Ray, and in superbly restored versions? This seems unlikely, unless the Government of India makes an attempt to get these movies over and take them round the country. Otherwise, Ray’s own homeland will not be able to watch these masterpieces.