At IFFI, Michael Douglas talks Ray, recollects ‘Pather Panchali’, ‘Charulata’
Michael Douglas will be awarded the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award during the closing ceremony on Tuesday
Panaji: Film actor, director and producer Michael Douglas on Monday paid tribute to Satyajit Ray crediting him for “creating the beginning of Indian” cinema, and recalled how Ray influenced him early in his career.
Addressing a press conference at the 54th edition of the International Film Festival of India currently underway in Goa, Douglas who will be presented with the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award during the closing ceremony on Tuesday, Douglas also spoke of his upcoming project ‘Racing the Monsoon’, a film that will be a sequel to ‘Romancing the Stone’ that he hopes to complete in India.
“I actually had a history of Satyajit Ray back in college, the 1960s taking a film class and becoming aware of some of his work projects as well as his style and being a renaissance man, I think he sort of created the beginning of the Indian era of filmmaking… but the idea of multiple jobs, he was so many things as an author, music editing, as well as director. So it’s a tremendous honour to receive this award,” Douglas said.
“When I was in the University of California at Santa Barbara. I was taking a film course in 1963. This is about 1964 and one of the directors that we studied a lot was Satyajit Ray. And if I remember correctly, it was a film called Pather Panchali and another called Charulata… But when I realised that he was not only the director, but he was a writer, a filmmaker, a musician and he authored books. He was quite an extraordinary man, and also the sense of dealing with people. You would not think of being heroic or large scale but showing a reality and a texture that we had known about all left me with an impression,” Douglas said.
Douglas also shared his recipe for success as a film producer, which he said was focussing on the ‘material.’
“Material, for me, became the most important. I don’t care what it is but if it is something that feels emotionally nervously and structured -- for me a three act structure is very important -- that’s what I count on. So if I’m haunted by it, whether it makes me laugh or cry or sexy or not. Then I analyse it and I see the structure. And so I think that’s why I’ve been fairly successful over the years trying to stick with good material. Although this also my part so much because I’d much rather be a small part and a good movie than a big part in a bad,” Douglas said.
“The material is the most important thing. Many actors can play the parts, (what matters is) how good the material is. So I think that’s always stuck with me,” he added.
His wife and film actress Catherine Zeta-Jones said it felt ‘tingly’ every time she comes to India revealing that it was an Indian doctor who performed a tracheotomy when she was 18 months old.
“It was an Indian doctor who saved my life with a tracheotomy when I was 18 months old. So I wonder why when I come to India I have this feeling of coming home and this is like my tingly feeling and maybe there’s something to do with that, that the reason why I’m actually here is because of the brilliance of an Indian doctor in Swansea, South Wales in the UK, so I’m forever indebted to him,” she added.
Catherine also shared her ‘regret’ have not having the opportunity to do a British-Indian film
“I’ve always been a huge fan. And being a singer and a dancer. I dreamed that maybe the British film industry would do a Bollywood type film and I wouldn’t be able to be nice to them. But I would love to be part of something in the Indian industry,” she added adding that one of her favourite movies was ‘The Lunchbox’ (starring actor Irrfan Khan).