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Apu-Durga’s Google run

- Site marks Ray birthday with Pather Panchali doodle

Apu and Durga have run a long way through the kash phool to catch a glimpse of a smoke-belching train — from the Basusree screen back in 1955 to the Google India homepage in 2013.

The iconic shot from Satyajit Ray’s first film, Pather Panchali, was the Google doodle of the day to mark the maestro’s 92nd birthday on Thursday.

“I really liked the Google doodle. It’s very nice and beautifully done,” son Sandip Ray told Metro.

“In fact, I got a call from Google India last year too and they were keen on doing something on Baba’s birthday but they somehow couldn’t. This year they called again and wanted my permission. I immediately said yes. I saw it this morning and it’s great,” he added from the Ray residence.

The illustration of Apu and Durga also reminded Netizens of Ray’s sketches in pen and ink and wash, which he would create as substitute for a full-fledged script. “It’s happy. It’s grey. It’s fluid. It has energy. You feel like running with the children — they have seen something and now you must see it too. It was a delight to wake up to Google today,” said illustrator Devika Dave.

The beauty of the illustration lies in its simplicity, agreed illustrator Debasish Deb. “Paying homage to Ray through these children has been very well conceived. Apu looks convincing wearing a crown and dhoti, stick in hand. But the visual falters when it comes to Durga. Without a sari and her hair loosely tied in a bun, her look is too urban, quite different from Ray’s own depiction,” pointed out Deb.

Some Ray fans rued the absence of his handsome face from the Google homepage, something like what the American search engine had done to mark Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary in 2009.

Jatin Varma, the man behind Comic Con India, the country’s only comic book convention, begged to differ. “I don’t think it matters that they chose to highlight his work instead of maybe a doodle of his face. Choosing to highlight his iconic work is a great way to celebrate the man and share his legacy.”

No wonder the Ray doodle was so special for Srijit Mukherji, the maker of films like 22shey Srabon. “I felt very proud... proud to be a part of that same industry.”

Saikat S. Ray, assistant professor (editing) at SRFTI, even hoped that the Ray doodle would inspire many youngsters who practically live in the Google world. “There are many who are yet to really learn about him.... The doodle might well trigger renewed interest in Ray,” he said.

From salutes virtual to real, chief minister Mamata Banerjee paid a brief visit to the Ray home on Bishop Lefroy Road on Thursday evening, two decades after her last visit when the legend Ray had been awarded an Oscar. She spent about 10 minutes with Bijoya Ray, Sandip and daughter-in-law Lolita. She also garlanded a photograph of Ray.