Satyajit Ray needs no introduction. In his long career spanning over four decades he gave us many memorable films and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer and film critic.
His debut film Pather Panchali received international acclaim and put Indian cinema on the map and it remains to be his most famous and loved works. If you are looking to dive into some more of his storytelling, here’s a list of films to look out for.
Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Apurjito, Apur Sansar)
This one’s the obvious recommendation. As Pather Panchali is the first in his Apu trilogy that chronicles the life of its titular character. Ray tells his character’s story from life from childhood in rural Bengal to adolescence and coming of age, and finally marriage.
Mahanagar (The Big City)
Mahanagar tells the story of a married woman Aarti, played by Madhabi Mukherjee. When her family starts facing financial troubles, she takes a job to support them. This in return causes her husband to grow distant and jealous.
The movie is based on the short story Abataranika by Narendranath Mitra.
Devi is about a woman who is believed to be a reincarnation of Goddess Kali and begins to consider herself as such. It is based on a short story by Provatkumar Mukhopadhyay and is a social commentary on religious dogmatism. Starring Sharmila Tagore in a lead role, the movie released to great critical acclaim. Directors William Wyler and Elia Kazan described the film as “poetry on celluloid”.
The film is available to watch on Youtube.
Considered to be truly ahead of its time, (like most of Satyajit Ray’s filmography) the movie tells the story of it’s titular character. Charulata is a lonely housewife who whiles away her time reading and people watching. She longs for purpose and validation and it comes to her in the form of her husband’s younger cousin. This film, much like Mahanagar is about a woman going against what is expected of her in the society and exploring life on her own terms. Interestingly, it stars the same actor, Madhabi Mukherjee. It is based on the novella ‘Nastanirh’ by Rabindranath Tagore.
This one is my personal favourite. It will make you long for a love you’ve not even experienced.
You can watch the film here.