Big B’s comments on Slumdog Millionaire are baseless.
Very recently Big B has commented that the western world had recognized the efficient work in Indian films relating to realistic subjects. They did not appreciate the quality work done in mainstream cinema where the directors and techinicians also showed their expertise in the respective fields of cinema and the films had been appreciated by the people at large as well.
The reference was made in respect of the awards and recognition given in Anil Kapoor’s film Slumdog Millionaire. The story of the film was related to the life of a slumdweller in Mumbai. He participated in a competition in Television channel where by answering questions a person could be a millionaire. There had been similar competitions in the past like Kaun banega crorepati, dus ka dum, etc. The slumdweller one huge amount of money and it changed his life. A R Rehman had been awarded golden globe award and his background music in the film had been appreciated in US.
Big B’s reference relating to Satyajit Ray’s recognition in US and Europe does not make any sense. Firstly Ray was the first intellectual director of India who could make the nature speak for itself in the film Pather Panchali. There was a scene where Apu dropped the neckless alleged to have been stolen by Durga, his sister in the film, in a pond. The ripples were shown in the pond which came together to hide the truth and the end the story relating to the stealing of the necklace.
Satyajit Ray made the audience think about the ripples and understand that each of his scenes had inner meanings beyond the characters and the dialogues. Similarly when Kanu Banerji, the father of Apu, showed the sari that he bought from the market to his wife, she showed her outburst in tears, as Durga died few days back and it was known to her father. Satyajit Ray played the theme music played by Pandit Ravi Shankar to fade away the sound of the outburst of Karuna Banerji, the mother of Durga in the film.
Satyajit Ray was a path-breaker in contemporary cinema and giants of Indian films like Shyam Benegal and Adoor Gopalakrishnan had referred the number of times they had seen Pather Panchali to learn the art of film making from the legend of legends Satyajit Ray.
Recognition of Satyajit Ray during his illustrious career in US and Europe had hardly anything to do with the poverty existing in Bengal or the realistic subject matters. The recognition was based on the level of excellence that he had reached in each and every film in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
Ray had dealt with classic literature of Tagore in films like Teen Kanya, Charulata, Ghare Baire, he had worked on crime thrillers written by himself like Sonar Kella, Joy Baba Felunath, he had worked on contemporary problems lying in Kolkata in films like Mahanagar in 1965, and Pratidwandi in the early 70s, he had also worked on the fading of rule of feudal lords (zamindari) during colonial rule in films like Jalsaghar.
Ray had been an institution by himself in inventing new grammer of story-telling, working outside the studio, using non-professional actors, experimenting with eastern and western classical music, believing in reflections, etc. Whenever discussions are made in respect of realistic films or art films in India and abroad, it is better if Satyajit Ray’s name is not used for comparison, because he was unparallel, uncomparable and much ahead of his time. In that respect Big B’s comments are absolutely baseless.
If India had given birth to one novel prize winning poet like Rabindranath Tagore, India had given birth only one oscar winning director like Satyajit Ray. Legends of the contemporary period had just learned and learned from these maestros whose works had reached a level of perfection which cannot be matched.