Satyajit Ray was an Indian Bengali filmmaker, widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century. Born in Calcutta into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and literature, Ray started his career as a commercial artist. He was drawn into independent filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing Vittorio De Sica’s Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves (1948) during a visit to London. Ray directed 36 films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. He was also a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, calligrapher, music composer, graphic designer and film critic. He authored several short stories and novels, primarily aimed at children and adolescents. Feluda, the sleuth, and Professor Shonku, the scientist in his science fiction stories, are popular fictional characters created by him. Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won eleven international prizes, including the inaugural Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival. This film, along with 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 awards, including 36 National Film Awards by the Government of India, and awards at international film festivals. At the Berlin International Film Festival, he was one of only four filmmakers to win the Silver Bear for Best Director more than once and holds the record for the most Golden Bear nominations. At the Venice Film Festival, where he had previously won a Golden Lion for Aparajito (1956), he was awarded the Golden Lion Honorary Award in 1982. Ray is the second film personality after Charlie Chaplin to have been awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France in 1987.The Government of India awarded him the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1985, Padma Bhushan in 1965 and the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, shortly before his death. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray an Honorary Award in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement.

SAFFMontréal will be presenting two equally adorable films during its 11th edition, one made by Satyajit Ray himself and the other by his son Sandip Ray based on a character created by the great master as follows:

Ganashatru(Ennemi du peuple)

Synopis : Ashoke Gupta is an idealistic doctor working in a town near Calcutta. He discovers that the water at a popular temple is the source of an outbreak of typhoid and hepatitis. In order to save lives, he risks his career to try and call attention to this polluted water source, while a local group promoting blind faith attempt to discredit him in various ways. This film is Ray’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play ”An enemy of the people”, re-imagined in a small town of India. The film becomes all the more relevant in these ‘pandemic’ times, marked by opposing viewpoints. The play by Ibsen has been revived by several theatre companies in different countries, including Montreal’s Theâtre du Nouveau Monde which has planned it in the 2021-22 season.

Year of production : 1989
Language : Bengali
Length : 100 mins
Subtitles : English & French (separate versions)
Venue : online from 19th to 28th 2021

Ticketing (free) registration : CLICK HERE


Professor Shanku with credits

Synopsis : This is an adventure story of the fictional genius scientist and inventor Professor Shonku visiting the heart of the Amazon forests in search of the mythical city of El Dorado. One day, a typical Bengali gentleman Nakur Chandra Biswas alias Nakur Babu comes to meet him in Shonku’s house in Giridih. He lives in Makardaha. Shanku realises that Nakur Babu has a supernatural power having the ability to read other’s minds and see the future.

Year: 2019
Language: Bengali
Duration: 93 mins
Subtitles: Bilingual (English and French)
Venue: Cinémathèque Québécoise, on 26th Nov at 19h00


The screening at Cinémathèque on 26th Nov, will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and other distinguished panelists. The following are the details of the panelists :

  1. Sandip Ray, son of Satyajit Ray and director of ‘Prof. Shanku O El Dorado’, Kolkata, India
  2. Dr. Chinmay Guha, Kolkata India
    Chinmoy Guha is a professor and former Head of the department of English at the University of Calcutta, a Bengali essayist and translator, and a scholar of French language and literature. He has served as the Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University and Director of Publications, Embassy of France, New Delhi. He has been awarded knighthoods by the ministries of Education and Culture of the Government of France, in 2010 and 2013. Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and the Government of West Bengal conferred on him Vidyasagar Puroshkar in 2017. The French President conferred on him in November 2019 the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite for his contribution to intercultural exchange. He won the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award 2019 in Bengali literature for his collection of essays Ghumer Darja Thele.
  3. Dr. Subho Basu, McGill University, Montreal
    Dr. Subho Basu is an associate professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies in Mcgill University. After completing his Ph.D in History in University of Cambridge, UK he was a lecturer in L British Imperial History in University of Exeter, UK and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has also served as associate Professor in South Asian History in Syracuse University and Illinois State University. He is also the author of several books and research articles published in critically acclaimed journals. He has been awarded Smuts Hinduja Fellowship, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK., Charles Wallace Research Award, London, UK.,  Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholarship, British Council, London, UK. His area of specialization includes South Asian History and Culture, Labor History, History of Contemporary Social Movements, Materialist Approaches to Culture, Space, Globalization and he is a passionate critic of Indian art, theatre and films.
  4. Bratya Basu
  5. Dr. Srabanti Basu, Kolkata, India
    Srabanti Basu is a professor in biotechnology in the Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata. Apart from her academic pursuits, she has a passion for poetry and poetry performance. Trained by Bratati Bandyopadhyay, she has performed in India and abroad for National Museum Bangkok, Indian Embassy Bangkok, Indian Embassy Mexico, New Jersey Institute of Technology, American Center Kolkata, Alliance Francaise Kolkata to name a few. Besides her interest in dramatics and visual art she is well versed with Satyajit Ray films .