Skip to content

Calcutta Film Society

1947, A Film Critic

The aftermath of the world war saw Calcutta filled with American GI’s. The cinemas were showing the latest Hollywood productions. It provided Ray and his friends a feast of films.

In 1947, with a few friends like Bansi Chandra Gupta, Ray co-founded Calcutta’s first film society. Battleship Potemkin was the first film they screened.

Soon, Ray started writing and publishing articles on cinema in newspapers and magazines, both English and Bengali. A collection of such articles, written during the period 1948 – 1971, was later published as ‘Our Films, Their Films’.

Meanwhile, Ray had developed an another interest – writing screenplays for his own pleasure. He would take a story or novel for which a film had been announced, and would write a screenplay. He would then compare his screenplay with the finished film. Some times, he would even write a second version after seeing the film.

His friend Harisadhan Das Gupta had acquired rights for Tagore’s Ghare Baire. Ray wrote the screenplay; Harisadhan Das Gupta was to direct it. The film was not made because Ray refused to make changes in the script as suggested by a doctor of venereal diseases who was a friend of the producer. Thirty-five years later when Ray made a film on the same novel, he thought it was a good fortune that film was not made. He found his old screenplay “an amateurish effort in Hollywood tradition”.

Next: Encounter With Jean Renoir, 1949

... What Indian cinema needs today is not more gloss (unlike Hollywood films), but more imagination, more integrity, and more intelligent appreciation of the limitations of the medium... The raw material of cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting and music and poetry should fail to move the film maker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.
Satyajit Ray
1948 What is wrong with the Indian films, published in the Statesman, an English daily.