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Since 1st March, 1999
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My Fundays

Guess when I saw my first film? When I was just one and a half years old. It was Pather Panchali which was being shot at Boral, on the outskirts of Calcutta, by my father Satyajit Ray. What is vivid in my mind is the picnic-like atmosphere when work got over. There were several people and because I was a tot, I possibly got even more attention than the stars.

When Baba was shooting for Parash Pathar, a wonderful comedy featuring Tulsi Chakraborty, I couldn’t take my eyes off the crane. The director and the cameraman had to go up on a basket-like thing dangling from the crane. Even at that age, I had a technical bent of mind and paid more attention to gimmicks used in films rather than to the story.

I never bothered Baba while he was working. The other members of the unit were my friends and I would ask them to explain things that puzzled me. I bombarded them with whys and hows when Baba brought me an 8mm movie camera from London. I had thought excitedly, I’d make my own film.

I was also a voracious reader. One of my favourites was Sandesh, the magazine for kids started by my great-grandfather Upendrakishore Ray Choudhury.

By the time I was midway through school, I had decided to be a filmmaker. With that in mind, I joined the arts stream in St Xavier’s College. My friends had told me that arts students got a lot of ‘‘off periods’’. During these, I would rush to the studio at New Theatres — to the magic world of movie making.

I remember telling Ma that I found Baba’s films very difficult. Baba heard me and decided to make Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, a film full of magic and music. I was jumping at the thought of going to Rajasthan for the shoot, but finally got to see only the indoor shooting in Calcutta. A horrid villain prevented me from joining in the fun in Rajasthan. Guess what his name was? EXAMS, of course!

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