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Ray@100 Lecture 1: Acting in Satyajit Ray’s Cinema

May 2, 2020 | By

In the first episode of Ray@100 Video Lecture Series, Silhouette editor Amitava Nag looks at the uniqueness of acting in Ray’s cinema.

Talking about Satyajit Ray and his cinema in a very short span is really difficult. He is no doubt a complete artist and one who is a master in so many different aspects of cinema and culture.

Realism in Satyajit Ray’s cinema is the very first of its kind in the context of Indian cinema. Earlier mostly cinematic expressions were borrowed heavily from theatre and also literature.

Ray was one of the first who showed how to evolve a cinematic language which is distinct from theatre and literature.

Presented by Silhouette Editor Amitava Nag

Presented by Silhouette Editor Amitava Nag

And that is why he has so many apparently unimportant yet sweet moments in his films and also a few insignificant but memorable cameo roles. Those characters are not indispensable in the narrative, and most other directors wouldn’t have kept that in the script. But at the end of it all we as audience know that those characters add to an experience that is wholesome. There are several such examples through out Ray’s oeuvre.

And because of this ensemble cast he has a pattern of acting in most of his films where the variation of standards between a rank newcomer and a seasoned actor is negligible In his films the job of an actor is not to mouth lines but also to do some business during the scene. And to achieve this, he had to keep his camera at a distance from his actors so that the business done by him or her can be captured. Probably that is why frames in Ray’s cinema mostly are in mid-shots.

Click here for exclusive features on understanding Satyajit Ray’s films coming up as part of Ray@100 Centenary Series.

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Creative Writing

Whether you are new or veteran, you are important. Please contribute with your articles on cinema, we are looking forward for an association. Send your writings to amitava@silhouette-magazine.com

Amitava Nag is an independent film critic based in Kolkata and editor of Silhouette. His most recent books on cinema are 16 Frames and Smriti Sattwa o Cinema. His earlier writings include the acclaimed books Satyajit Ray’s Heroes and Heroines published by Rupa and Beyond Apu: 20 Favourite film roles of Soumitra Chatterjee published by Harper Collins India. He also writes poetry and short fiction in Bengali and English – observing life in a platter. He can be reached at amitavanag.net.
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