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Childhood Days -A memoir [Ray's Auto-Biography]

Aug 06, 2006 10:52 AM 5549 views

(Updated Aug 07, 2006 05:14 PM)

An Auto-Biography of Satyajit Ray [Translated by wife, Bijoya Ray.]

Is it too boring or time consuming to read a book? Here’s an unputdownable page turner that will regale you with stories of quirky relatives, antics of mischievous students , forgetful teachers, the experience of filming tigers and what happens when some 1000 actors shooting an elaborate war scene for a film refuse to co-operate with the director. An equally enjoyable read for kids as well as adults,without being tedious. You are invited to walk the foot-steps of Satyajit Ray.

My fascination with Satyajit Ray began as a kid. I loved reading his short stories, novels which appeared in Sandesh [a monthly children’s magazine published in Bengali.] These stories had intriguing characters, amazing plots and all written in a lucid style which ensured an entertaining read. The accompanying illustrations done by Ray himself,made these stories even more alluring. His detective novels with Feluda as the central character, science-fiction stories [Shonku Series] and collection of short stories are gifts, I truly cherish even today. Ray’s movies for children,like Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne, Feluda etc. made me realise how creative, hard-working and muti-talented he was.

The autobiography of Ray was originally written for Sandesh in a serialized version and later published as a book in Bengali called Jokhon Chhoto Chhilaam. The book translated in English by his wife Bijoya Ray, deserves much appreciation. It has lots of Black& White family photographs, illustrations done by Satyajit Ray and is divided in two parts:


B] Making Movies.

‘Childhood Days’ include experiences of growing up in a very famous Bengali Family during pre-independence era . His father and grandfather were writers of great repute and from a very young age he was influenced by various members of his vast joint family.

Ray provides a very vivid description of gadgets like Stereoscope& Magic Lanterns, that he played with as a kid.[ including an illustration of Stereoscope.]

The quirks of his various relatives are amusing to read. He describes his uncle as someone who always dreamt peculiar dreams, maintained a diary which included hourly activities, headlines of newspapers and were written using four different coloured inks – red, blue, green and black. The reasons for switching from one colour to another were difficult to fathom, but, some could be followed:

Green- Description of nature.

Red - Nouns.

Here’s an entry from that precious diary. [appropriate description of tea, tasted at various households visited by uncle, over a month.]

1. Tea fit for Narasimha[brimming with valour, roar-inducing, powerful tea.]

2.Tea for the masses [average, make-do tea.]

3.Tea fit for a constable [officious, self-important, supercilious tea.]

The book features twelve such varieties.

Holidays’ describe his travels to various parts of India as a child. The stories he wrote, later on in life, features a lot of his travel experiences and the people he met in real life.

School life will introduce you to an anglicized teacher, Drawing teacher with limited knowledge of the English language, one class-mate excelling at magic tricks,mischievous students teasing Ray about his famous family and many more incidents.

The detailed description of such incidents, shows his razor sharp memory and the use of subtle humour keeps you enthralled.

‘Making Movies’, deal with various incidents that happened during or before the shooting of a particular scene. The various actors he dealt with, and the experience of shooting with unit members in various out-door locales.

You’ll laugh at the antics of actor Kamu Mukherjee and a former Rajasthani dacoit recounting his days of glory etc. The problems Ray faced with animals in films like, Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne, Hirak Rajar Deshe [The Kingdom of Diamonds] , Feluda films, Pather Panchali & the experience of filming a Tiger from close quarters is explained in great detail.

Follow the travails of Ray, when actors, portraying a large army refuse to wear colourful costumes on religious grounds, starving soldiers required to gobble up sweets for a particular scene refusing to do so, as they dislike sweets.

Read the book to find out more. Recommended for:

Book-Lovers, Book-Haters, Children, Ray Enthusiasts , Those oblivious of the genius of Ray, Movie enthusiasts , You, Your Family, Relatives, Friends, Neighbours and chances are your pet might enjoy it too, if you read it out to him/her.

Publication : Penguin Price : Rs.250

Pages : 173

Note: Review listed under wrong category, because product request was categorically denied!

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