Thursday, December 2

Kolkata Film buffs welcome Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award for Martin Scorsese, Istvan Szabo

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Cine buffs in the city have welcomed Union minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur’s announcement to confer the Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award on film-makers Istvan Szabo and Martin Scorsese at the 52nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI). According to the Ray family, this is a fitting tribute to the legend on his centenary year.
Sandip Ray said, “I have been watching Szabo’s films for a long time. He has been a festival favourite and I loved his ‘Mephisto’. I am not sure if Szabo has watched my father’s films, but Scorsese has spoken about them on a number of occasions. Scorsese has been instrumental in restoring Baba’s films and was really keen that the honorary Oscar be bestowed on my father.”In world cinema, 78-year-old Scorsese and 83-year-old Szabo are two of the greatest and most influential film-makers representing the New Hollywood era and European auteurism respectively. Director Anik Dutta, who is shooting a film based on the making of ‘Pather Panchali’, said, “Scorsese was deeply inspired by Ray. One can even trace inspirations of Ray’s ‘Abhijan’ in Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’.”

Scorsese has been generous in his admiration of Ray’s cinema and how he loved the director’s way of presenting a nuanced perspective about Indian cinema to the global audience. He was mesmerized the day he watched all three films of the Apu Trilogy at one go in a Manhattan theatre. From Subrata Mitra’s close-ups of Apu’s eyes in ‘Pather Panchali’ to Pt Ravi Shankar’s score, everything took his breath away and left a permanent impression on him.
Director Atanu Ghosh said that, in terms of film-making, Istvan Szabo and Martin Scorsese are very different. “Scorsese is a torch-bearer to Ray because he continued the tradition that Ray and other iconic directors of that generation initiated and propagated. Another interesting turn in the history of film-making came through a group represented by Szabo,” Ghosh said.

Like Ray, the search for roots and identity, pangs of guilt, redemption and faith affected Scorsese. “Szabo has explored psychological complexity over and over. Films of both Szabo and Scorsese have repeatedly renewed their trust in humanism. Their subjects concerned common people and their surroundings. While Scorsese gained universal acclaim portraying the universality of taxi drivers across the world, tram cars and their passengers have played a dominant role in many of Szabo’s films,” Ghosh said.

Film scholar Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay said, “Those like me who grew up with the film society movement in Kolkata in the 70s have a special interest in Szabo’s cinema. His ‘Mephisto’ remains a cult work and inspires our artistic conscience in times of crisis. Conferring an award on the maker of ‘You’ and ‘Budapest Tales’ is a very wise decision.”

Source: Times of India

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