A Celebration of Satyajit Ray

black and white photo of Satyajit Ray standing next to a movie camera
April 30, 2021

In celebration of the centenary of Satyajit Ray's birth, we're highlighting five of his finest films, available online to Yale students, faculty, and staff throughout the month of May as part of Yale University Library's streaming video collections.

Born in Calcutta into a family of prominent intellectuals on May 2, 1921, Ray was influenced by a broad range of Bengali art and literature, as well as by the international films he saw as co-founder of the Calcutta Film Society. His languid and humanist films focus on intimate stories, and combine the poetry of Jean Renoir (for whom he scouted locations for The River) with the sometimes brutal realism of Vittorio De Sica (whose Bicycle Thieves solidified Ray's choice to become a filmmaker). He once remarked, "Somehow I feel that an ordinary person—the man on the street if you like—is a more challenging subject for exploration than people in the heroic mold. It is the half shades, the hardly audible notes, that I want to capture and explore." Widely considered one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever lived, Ray received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor, as well as an Academy Honorary Award which commended his "indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world." In the words of Akira Kurosawa, "Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or moon."

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Pather Panchali / Song of the Little Road (1955)
Ray's debut film and the first film in his acclaimed Apu Trilogy is a lyrical and heartbreaking rural family portrait.

Aparajito / The Unvanquished (1956)
In this coming-of-age tale, Apu's education coincides with his mother's sacrifices and his family's decline.

Apur Sansar / The World of Apu (1959)
Loves and losses mark Apu's adult life, in the debut for actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore.

Jalsaghar / The Music Room (1958)
A fallen aristocrat and this upstart neighbor compete for prominence by hosting dueling musical showcases.

Ghare Baire / The Home and the World (1984)
A love triangle links a woman's independence with the independence of India in this adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's novel.

What is Treasures from the Yale Film Archive?
Treasures from the Yale Film Archive is a series of classic and contemporary films presented in 35mm. Treasures will resume in-person public screenings in the upcoming academic year.