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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



IFFI 52, 016: FTII professor Ganga Mukhi on Satyajit Ray

IFFI 52, 016: FTII professor Ganga Mukhi on Satyajit Ray

“Satyajit Ray believed that our cinema must have a language of its own. Through his self-study, he created his own style of film-making. Ray’s films are a must-watch for all film lovers, students and film-makers. His films connect with everyone in spite of geographical and language barriers.” Associate Professor, Department of Direction and Screenplay Writing, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Ms. Ganga Mukhi said during a master class on ‘Directorial Practices on Satyajit Ray’ at IFFI 52. The master-class was streamlined virtually.

She spoke how Ray films stand unique till today even after decades the film was made. “He came without any formal training in film-making but he has never stopped to inspire film makers.”

She spoke in depth about his mastery of film-making. She explained Ray’s organic style used in The Apu Trilogy. While explaining every scene of the film shot by shot, she threw light on how Ray has conveyed every emotion with little or no dialogues. “He has given a unique language to film-making.”

Ganga spoke about how Ray starts telling the film right when the title of the film appears. “The title appears on a handmade paper – the writings almost smudge but the calligraphy is so beautiful. This is how the film announces itself, symbolising that we are going to see a beautiful story in this rough world”.

She highlighted how the introductory scene of Pather Panchali is shown very beautifully with only his eyes shown first in the frame; this subtly reminds the viewers that he is one who likes to see the world outside. “The whole character has been portrayed in just one shot.”

Ray’s characters are mostly framed through doorways, through windows – just to show how the characters both belong and not belong at the same time.

What does poverty do to us? What does it do to our self-esteem? How can a human being become victim of the economic gap in the society? How can a film-maker show all these on camera? Ganga questioned. She explained how Satyajit Ray portrayed poverty on the screen very subtly with just one dialogue, where a character asks: “Are you not feeding the cow? They are bearing only a half a pot of milk.”

“Ray was a master in creating a scene where nothing is shown directly, but still the audiences are able to sense the emotion behind it,” she added.

Ganga also said how Satyajit Ray’s brave decisions in breaking all stereotypes used in film-making has made his film unique. “As a film-maker he took decisions which were not taken before.”

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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