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Satyajit Ray (Bengali: সত্যজিৎ রায়) was an Indian filmmaker and author of Bengali fiction and regarded as one of the greatest auteurs of world cinema. Ray was born in the city of Calcutta into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and literature. Starting his career as a commercial artist, Ray was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and watching Vittorio De Sica's Italian neorealist 1948 film, Bicycle Thieves.
Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, graphic designer and film critic. He authored several short stories and novels, primarily aimed at children and adolescents.
Ray's first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including Best Human Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival. This film, Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959) form The Apu Trilogy. Ray did the scripting, casting, scoring, and editing, and designed his own credit titles and publicity material. Ray received many major awards in his career, including 32 Indian National Film Awards, a number of awards at international film festivals and award ceremonies, and an Academy Award in 1992. The Government of India honoured him with the Bharat Ratna in 1992.
Early Life and Background:
Ray's grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury was a writer, illustrator, philosopher, publisher, amateur astronomer and a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a religious and social movement in nineteenth century Bengal. Sukumar Ray, Upendrakishore's son and father of Satyajit, was a pioneering Bengali author and poet of nonsense rhyme and children's literature, an illustrator and a critic. Ray was born to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray in Calcutta.
Ray completed his B.A. (Hons.) in Economics at Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, though his interest was always in Fine Arts. In 1940, he went to study in Santiniketan where Ray came to appreciate Oriental Art. In 1949, Ray married Bijoya Das and the couple had a son, Sandip ray, who is now a famous film director.
Ray created two of the most famous fictional characters ever in Bengali children's literature—Feluda, a sleuth in Holmesian tradition, and Professor Shonku, a genius scientist. Ray also wrote many short stories mostly centered on Macabre, Thriller and Paranormal which were published as collections of 12 stories. Ray wrote an autobiography about his childhood years, Jakhan Choto Chilam (1982). He also wrote essays on film, published as the collections: Our Films, Their Films (1976), Bishoy Chalachchitra (1976), and Ekei Bole Shooting (1979).
Awards, Honors and Recognitions:
Ray received many awards, including 32 National Film Awards by the Government of India. At the Moscow Film Festival in 1979, he was awarded for the contribution to cinema. At the Berlin Film Festival, he was one of only three to win the Silver Bear for Best Director more than once and holds the record for the most Golden Bear nominations, with seven. At the Venice Film Festival, he won a Golden Lion for Aparajito(1956), and awarded the Golden Lion Honorary Award in 1982. In 1992 he was posthumously awarded the Akira Kurosawa Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing at the San Francisco International Film Festival.