Archive for the 'India-Pakistan' Category

RIP Soumitra Chatterjee, Actor, Playwright, Poet

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

Soumitra Chatterjee: India acting legend dies, aged 85

Soumitra Chatterjee (January 19, 1935 — November 15, 2020)
(photo via)
The third movie of the trilogy, Apur Sansar, which released in 1959, was also Chatterjee’s debut film. He would go on to star as the lead actor in 14 of Ray’s films.
Pauline Kael called Chatterjee Ray’s “one-man stock company” who moved “so differently in the different roles he plays that he is almost unrecognisable”.

  • Chatterjee, who starred in more than 300 movies, was also an accomplished playwright, theatre actor and poet.

  • Chaterjee shone even in non-Satyajit Ray films

    Lesser Known facts about the living legend

    Anoushka Shankar

    Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

  • Happy birthday Anoushka Shankar!


  • RIP Irrfan Khan, Life of Pi, Namesake, The Lunchbox

    Wednesday, April 29th, 2020
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    Irrfan Khan Dies aged 53 (The Guardian)
    Irrfan Khan a life in pictures
    Filmography – IMDB

    Two of the films that he has worked on (Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi) collectively won 12 Oscars.


    Khan was known for his nuanced and understated performances, with many calling him one of India’s most talented actors.
    He was so highly respected, director Wes Anderson once wrote him a part just so he could work with him.

    He kept in touch with Mira Nair – who had spotted his talent at drama school but cut him from Salaam Bombay. They would go on to make The Namesake in 2006 and New York, I Love You in 2010.

  • Irrfan Khan: a seductive actor capable of exquisite gentleness
    Peter Bradshaw

  • On being asked regarding his favorite Directors in an interview, Irrfan Khan replied:
    “My favourite director was Stanley Kubrick. Krzysztof Kieslowski. Andrei Tarkovsky… the earlier films of Satyajit Ray… the Apu Trilogy. The first film (Pather Panchali) he did, it was so organic. He learnt it on the job. That has a kind of mystery. He was discovering the craft. Ritwik Ghatak… Meghe Dhaka Tara. I love all his films. I watch it with subtitles.”

  • With Kelly Mcdonald in Puzzle

    RIP Zarina – An Independent Artist from India

    Monday, April 27th, 2020
  • Zarina died

    Zarina Hashmi, known professionally by her first name only, was an Indian artist living and working in the USA. Her work spanned drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Associated with the Minimalist movement, her work utilized abstract and geometric forms in order to invoke a spiritual reaction from the viewer. (via wiki)

  • A Fiercely Independent Woman Artist (The Hindu )

    Zarina’s works on paper, in print and collage, and her sculptures, made from paper pulp or metal, found homes in prominent museum collections.

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    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on Her life & on Her work with Derrida

    Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
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    Interview Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    Because of the unusualness of my parents…my mother was very active. When the refugees from the newly created state of East Pakistan came in the millions into Calcutta at Independence at 5:00am in the morning she was in the railway station helping with rehabilitation. She helped establish a nunnery particularly for educated middle-class women who really wanted to get out of their lives, etc. She ran the first working women’s hostel in Calcutta so well that even the state asked her, “Mrs. Chakravorty, how do you do it? We failed!”

    Photo via

    Spivak – Interview

    Has your understanding of Derrida’s book changed over the four decades since you first translated it?

    So I found. When I began, I didn’t notice how critical the book was of “Eurocentrism” because the word in 1967 was not so common. Derrida was an Algerian Jew, born before World War II, who was actually encountering Western philosophy from the inside. A brilliant man, he was looking at its Eurocentrism.

    He also said a very powerful thing about African orality: they could remember seven generations back; we’ve lost that capacity. There, “writing” takes place on the psychic material called “memory.” Derrida connects this to Freud. So he was saying, look at reality carefully. It’s coded so that other people, even if they’re not present, can understand what we are saying. He looked at how this was suppressed in philosophical traditions.

  • Ornette Coleman and Derrida

  • Derrida was from Algeria – Previous post, Far from Men Viggo’s film about Algeria

    Subrata Mitra – Celebrated Cinematographer + Satyajit Ray’s Sketches

    Friday, October 12th, 2018
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    Remembering the great cinematographer Subrata Mitra, best known for his collaboration with Satyajit Ray, on his 88th birth anniversary. He was the man who revolutionized the art of cinematography by introducing the technique of bounce lighting for the very first time. Many celebrated cinematographers, including Vittorio Storaro, Nestor Almendros and Takao Saito, got influenced by his extraordinary works.

    Thanks to Debayan Roy for posting

    MUBI Subrata Mitra

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    Charulata (youtube)

  • Rare ketches Satyajit Ray
    (The Pather Panchali Sketchbook’ has been edited by the master filmmaker’s son, Sandip Ray.)

  • Shashi Kapoor – Bollywood Legend Dies at 79

    Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
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    Heat and Dust (Merchant-Ivory production)


    Shashi Kapoor: Remembering Bollywood’s crossover star

    Sammie and Rosie Get Laid Shashi Kapoor with Clarie Bloom (script by Hanif Kureishi)

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    Rare and Unseen photos from the set of Shakespeare Wallah

    Wiki – Shashi Kapoor

    OM Puri -A Magnificent Actor of East/West Dies at 66

    Friday, January 6th, 2017
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    Guardian Obit here.

    Om Puri

    Om Prakesh Puri OBE (18 October 1950 – 6 January 2017) was an Indian actor who appeared in mainstream commercial Indian, British, and American films, as well as independent films and art films.

    Is Om Puri our greatest living actor? on
    April, 2000 Michael Spagow asked – h/t Terrence Rafferty via FB.

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    Lasse Hallstrom directing Om Puri –

    Om Puri knelt before Helen Mirren –

    MYSTIC MASSEUR, Ayesha Dharker, Om Puri, 2001(c) Think Film. . Merchant Ivory production..
    story by V.S. Naipal.

  • The Intense Serenity of Om Puri, Citizen of the World
    By TERRENCE RAFFERTY APRIL 9, 2000 (NYtimes)

    ALTHOUGH Om Puri has appeared, by his own estimate, in something like 140 films in his 24-year screen career and has been characterized by one expert on Indian cinema as ”the finest actor of the post-independence generation,” he does not expect to be recognized on the streets of New York.

    But when he and I step out for a cigarette in front of the SoHo Grand Hotel, a middle-aged man and woman strolling up West Broadway look startled, walk a few steps farther up the street, and then, after a fast conference, return to tell Mr. Puri how impressed they had been by his performance in ”East Is East,” which they had seen in Israel. He accepts their praise graciously and modestly, and after they have moved on he puffs contentedly and beams. ”That’s absolutely made my day.”

    His delight is so contagious that I instantly banish my suspicion that this improbable encounter has been staged by the wily publicists of Miramax, which is releasing ”East Is East” here on Friday. To be recognized, on a nearly deserted street, for a performance in a British art-house picture that has not even opened in the States? Not bloody likely. And yet: Mr. Puri’s portrayal of George Khan — a Pakistani Muslim married to an Englishwoman (Linda Bassett) and trying to raise seven children in a racially mixed neighborhood near Manchester in the 1970’s — is unforgettable, the sort of performance that should stop traffic. (Light pedestrian traffic, at least.) So I want this scene to be real: It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or a better actor.

    Back in the hotel’s smoke-free lounge, Mr. Puri, clearly stimulated by the heady combination of recognition and nicotine, expands on his approach to the domestic tyrant George Khan, who could easily have been played as a monster. ”I look for subtext,” he says, ”the hidden script within the script. Here’s a working-class man who comes to England and finds himself in circumstances that are too huge for him to handle. It’s 1971. In Parliament there are people shouting about repatriation. This man who is so rigid on the surface has agreed to stay with his wife in a non-Muslim area and send his children to modern schools. Even his daughter, and for a Muslim it’s very tough to send a girl child to a modern school. I knew I had to find a space for this in my portrayal, without departing from the script or changing the scenes. So when he hits a child it should be with pain. The anguish on his face should give a little balance to his monstrousness.”

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    My Son the Fanatic (script by Hanif Kureishi)
    Hanif and Omu Puri
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    Photo via

    (via Interview of Om Puri by Terrence Rafferty.)

    In ”My Son the Fanatic,” written by Hanif Kureishi (”My Beautiful Laundrette”), Mr. Puri plays another working-class immigrant father, who is also a Muslim by birth and who also lives in the industrial north, but whose parenting difficulties are precisely the opposite of Khan’s: Parvez, an easygoing cabdriver who loves jazz, drinks a little too much and has for a best friend and confidante a young prostitute, is alarmed that his son has become a militant Islamic fundamentalist.

    The actor considers Parvez the richest role that he has had in the English-speaking cinema. And besides, he says, ”I can more easily identify with that character. I consider him to be a citizen of the world. You could send him to Italy, you could send him to Spain, you could send him to Japan and the man would adjust. There is no place where there is not a collage of people, so there are frictions everywhere. Unless people have a sense of tolerance towards each other’s beliefs, life is not going to be easy.”

    Mr. Puri describes himself as ”very, very liberal,” which is perhaps why most of his work in his native land has been in ”what we call the art cinema, where the assumption is that cinema or theater is a medium of social commitment,” he says. As he sees it, ”My whole training has set me up for that.”

    Born in a rural area of northern India in 1950, Mr. Puri worked his way through a Punjabi university where he joined a theater group and ”drifted” from his youthful ambition to be a military man like his father. The family did not object. ”My father could see that I was economically responsible and really hard-working, so he never questioned my activities. And I never embarrassed him.” He then spent three years at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, where he received what he describes, with some understatement, as a ”very well-rounded” education in the theater: he played Hamlet in Hindi at age 23 and also performed (in that language) Brecht, Shaw, Ibsen, Indian folk plays and even a Kabuki drama.

    After a couple of years at the Indian Film Institute in Poona, Mr. Puri lit out for the film-industry capital, Bombay. He anticipated having a hard time breaking into the movies, because he did not have ”an obvious personality” — which means, in part, that he was not handsome enough to attract immediate attention. But his theater work got him noticed and once he had begun making movies his versatility kept him in demand. By 1981, he was well known enough to get a call from India’s greatest director, Satyajit Ray, who was casting ”Sadgati” (”Deliverance”), which was to be the Bengali filmmaker’s first production in Hindi; Mr. Puri was his choice to play the lead, an untouchable.

    In a way, the actor says, his career in the West is repeating the pattern of his career in India. He has had small parts in the major studio films ”Gandhi (1982), ”Wolf” (1994) and ”The Ghost and the Darkness” (1996), as well as a substantial supporting role in ”City of Joy” (1992). But his meatiest parts have been in serious, low-budget pictures. That’s fine with him, because he has a good life and a thriving career in Bombay, where he can practice his art in accordance with his bedrock principle: never let yourself be typecast. (His hero is Alec Guinness). ”Om has unusual range for an actor,” Mr. Prasad says. ”He seems equally natural playing an illiterate villager or a powerful intellectual.’

    And equally content. Like Parvez — and unlike George Khan — the man adjusts. ”I am happy to be recognized here in New York,” Mr. Puri says near the end of our conversation. ”But it was only two people, and I will not work just so that next time it will be 10 people.” And then he says something that, coming from an actor, strikes me as astonishing, and that may at least partly account for the extraordinary mixture of intensity and serenity that informs an Om Puri performance. ”I, frankly, don’t dream, because I want to remain happy. When you dream too much and the dream doesn’t come true, you hurt yourself. And I don’t want to hurt myself. So I don’t dream. I take things as they are.”

    Saeed Jaffrey – Bollywood, British Screen Legend Dies

    Monday, November 16th, 2015
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    Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) directed by Satyajit Ray

    Saeed Jaffrey – Bollywood, British Screen Legend Dies

    In a career that spanned more than half a century, Jaffrey made almost 200 screen appearances, working with directors including John Huston, James Ivory, David Lean, Richard Attenborough and Stephen Frears.
    Your next box set: The Jewel in the Crown

    Your next box set: Poignant and understated, The Jewel in the Crown’s account of the decline of the British Raj is one of the high-water marks of 1980s British TV, writes Alexandra Coghlan
    Read more

    He was probably best known to Western cinema audiences for his roles in Gandhi, The Man Who Would Be King, A Passage to India and My Beautiful Launderette, but he had a long and distinguished Bollywood career, notably in Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Indra Kumar’s Dil. He also starred in Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players.

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    The Man Who Would be King (John Huston)


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    My Beautiful Launderette – (written by Hanif Kureishi, directed by Stephen Frears)

    Saeed Jaffrey was the first Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire or OBE.

    He was married to actress-author Madhur Jaffrey, with whom he had three children.

    Obit from Caravan daily ..

    The World of Satyajit Ray – Mini Retrospective- May 2, 2015

    Saturday, May 2nd, 2015
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    Charulata (youtube)

  • 20 films directed by Satyajit Ray – see photos slideshow here.

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    Ray (on the right) with a cinematographer Soumendu Roy here.

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    Childhood days

  • Ray of hope – two documentaries Previous post

    Encounter with Jean Renoir

    Of all the films of Renoir, Ray admired La Regle du Jeu the most, a personal favorite of Renoir himself. Regarding filmmaking Renoir said that a filmmaker need not show a lot of things in a film but to show only the right things. Ray diligently followed the same advice that Renoir offered him in 1952: “You don’t have to have too many elements in a film, but whatever you use must be the right elements, the expressive elements.” From Renoir, Ray learnt that there was nothing more important to a film than the emotional integrity of human relationship in the film.

    Western Influences on Satyajit Ray

  • Satyajit Ray with Ravi Shankar

  • Malala – Calls for Free Education at UN

    Friday, July 12th, 2013

    Malala Yousafzai

    Happy birthday Malala! She is 16 years old today.

    Malala Yousafzai calls on governments to provide free education for all

    Pakistani schoolgirl who survived Taliban assassination attempt speaks at UN headquarters on day named in her honour

    Malala receives the Simone de Beauvoir – Prize for Women’s Freedom

    There will be a film about her life.. (Guardian)

  • Malala Yousafzai tells Obama drones are ‘fueling terrorism’

    Ray of Hope, Two Documenatries – Satyajit Ray and RabindranathTagore

    Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
  • Pather Panchali – Full film (youtube)

  • The Art of Film: Satyajit Ray, a viewpoint (youtube) (Highly recommended)

  • Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was recently honored by the U.N.

    Click to see large (image via Old photos of India)

    Einstein and Tagore

    The film comprises dramatized episodes from the poet’s life and archived images and documents. (See full film directed by Satyajit Ray here)

    The documentary was made to celebrate Tagore’s birth centenary in May 1961. Ray was conscious that he was making an official portrait of India’s celebrated poet and hence the film does not include any controversial aspects of Tagore’s life. However, it is far from being a propaganda film.

  • Satyajit Ray (NYtimes)

    “I find I am inimical to the idea of making two similar films in succession,” wrote the great Indian director Satyajit Ray in 1966, and in this, as in everything he wrote or filmed, he spoke the truth.

  • Satyajit Ray: Introspections (1983) Part 1