It was during his school days that Satyajit Ray came to understand and appreciate the possibilities of cinema, not least due to his exposure to the works of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Ernst Lubitsch, among others. It was also in school that Ray’s first brush with Western classical music happened, something that would grow into a passion subsequently. Thus, it is fair to say that the genesis of Ray’s artistic self came about when he was a student at the Ballygunge Government High School (BGHS), before moving on to study economics at Presidency College (then affiliated with the University of Calcutta).
On the evening of June 18, the BGHS alumni gathered to pay tribute to Ray as part of his extended 102nd birthday celebrations. Retired IAS officer Prasad Ranjan Roy was the chief guest for the occasion, which saw a series of discussions on Ray, exploring his art, life and the relationship between both.
Judhajit Mukherjee observed how the event “opened up so many avenues on Ray’s genius”
“We missed out on celebrating Ray’s centenary properly [in 2021, due to Covid], but this was a truly immersive and enlightening experience. We learnt so much more about the most famous son of our school and soil, too!” said Judhajit Mukherjee, the present general secretary of the BGHS alumni association.
Debasis Mukhopadhyay, a distinguished Ray analyst, and director Joydeep Mukherjee summed up the wide spectrum of discussion: “From the impact of Rabindranath Tagore on Ray's life to the technique behind the iconic shots in Pather Panchali to theories about Steven Spielberg’s ET (alleged to have been plagiarised from Ray’s script of The Alien), the evening opened up so many avenues on Ray’s genius.”
Apart from the debate and dialogue on Ray, the tribute also featured poetry from Ranjan Prasad, another school alumnus, who is often hailed as “Bengal’s Belafonte” for his musical prowess.