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Satyajit Ray’s 96th birth anniversary: A look at his friendship with Chetan Anand

Filmmaker Chetan Anand’s last message to Satyajit Ray after winning the Lifetime’s Oscar was, “Congratulations galore.”

bollywood Updated: May 03, 2017 07:36 IST
Ranjan Das Gupta
Ranjan Das Gupta
Hindustan Times
Satyajit Ray,Chetan anand,Bollywood
Satyajit Ray and Chetan Anand used to admire each other’s work greatly.

Satyajit Ray and Chetan Anand—both were Indian cinema’s golden heroes who won accolades at the coveted Cannes Film Festival. Pather Panchali [directed by Satyajit Ray] won the Best Human Document in Cannes in 1955. Neechanagar [directed by Chetan Anand] won the Grand Prize jointly with David Lean’s Brief Encounters in 1946.

There was a rare creative connect between these filmmakers. Satyajit Ray was deeply impressed viewing Neechanagar. He, along with Kamal Kumar Majumdar and Chidananda Das Gupta, personally wrote to Chetan Anand [in 1948] to address an elite gathering of film enthusiasts regarding the creation of Neechanagar at a film club of Kolkata.

The shy, introvert Chetan Anand politely refused stating he was not at all the right choice to speak to the congregation at the film club of Kolkata. Ray was initially hurt. However, in exchange of letters, Anand was able to convince Ray about his mental standing.

Both truly admired each other’s creativity. Ray was influenced by Anand’s courage to introduce Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan as composers in Neechanagar and Aandhiyan [1952]. He was influenced and opted for the duo to score for his Apu Trilogy, Paraspathar and Devi. Anand wept in joy watching Devi.

In 1964, when Anand was at the Oberoi Grand, Kolkata to receive the Bengal Film Journalist’s Award for Hakeekat, he came across Ray. Charulata [1964] then was the most applauded Indian film. As the two stalwarts shook hands, Ray pointed out that Hakeekat had strong visuals, excellent music but no story. Anand replied Hakeekat was a mosaic, not a story. Both then burst into laughter.

After Ray received the Bharat Ratna, Anand sent him a congratulatory message. So touched was he that Ray wished Anand best of creativity, recalled his important films and said he was certainly better than so called art filmmakers.

Anand’s last message to Satyajit Ray after winning the Lifetime’s Oscar was, “Congratulations galore.”

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First Published: May 02, 2017 11:16 IST