It is now well known what legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa said about Ray's films — “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”
Assisting Feluda or setting out on adventures with Goopy-Bagha are not fantasies confined to childhood. Every rewatch of a Ray film unfolds a new adventure or brings new perspective — a deep ache for Charu and Amal, or finding solace in Reba Muhuri’s Mohe Lagi Lagan. Watching the bhooter raja sing and the myriad ghosts dance is unfailing in bringing a smile.
Among the many masterstrokes of the maestro, is the music of his films. Songs, themes and background scores, each piece of music in a Satyajit Ray film is a story in itself. On his 101st birth anniversary, we dive into musicscape in Ray movies to marvel endlessly at an artist who cannot be confined under one title or genre.
‘Bhooter Raja Dilo Bor’ from ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’
The sheer innocent joy of the music and the characters makes Bhooter Raja a song for eight to 80. However, beneath the simplicity and the theme of wishes coming true, the song, lines such as “Kebol pete boro bhukh” makes one delve deep into sparks of reality.
'Halla Rajar Sena' from ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’
One of the most poignant songs made on war Halla Rajar Sena, perfectly encapsulates the satiric theme of the Goopy-Bagha delivering hard-hitting truths in a fun package.
P.S. Did you know, Ray wanted to make a film on extra-terrestrial creatures and wrote the screenplay with Marlon Brando and Peter Sellers in mind? That film did not see the light of the day, but Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne did, and became a pioneer in the fantasy adventure genre.
‘Aha Ki Ananda’ from ‘Hirak Rajar Deshe’
Happiness is this song, yesterday, today and forever. If you are familiar with Ray-loving Bengalis, this song has featured in many travel memories and joyous occasions. It’s pretty much the theme song of happy memories.
‘Mohe Lagi Lagan’ from ‘Joi Baba Felunath’
Only Ray could imagine a bhajan in a sleuth film. In Reba Muhuri’s ethereal voice, the song brings back memories of the iconic climatic scene that will give you goosebumps, even in 2022.
‘Ebar Tore Chinechi Maa’ from ‘Devi’
One line — "Ami jodi Debi hoi?" — and one song from a film that was a feminist statement, which refused to conform to the cinematic image of the ‘barir bou’ in the 1960s. Was Ray ahead of his time? Yes.
It was not just songs with lyrics that left a mark on the audiences of Ray’s films. The background scores and themes from films such as Charulata, the Feluda series, or Pikoo are just as impactful and unforgettable.
‘Bhooter Naach’ from ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’
Fun, quirky and experimental, the Bhooter Nach theme will make you giggle and tap your feet whether accompanied by visuals or not. No wonder the film ran for 51 weeks non-stop!
‘Pather Panchali’ theme
Pandit Ravi Shankar’s harmonious soundscape and a tale documenting human life, raw, unabridged and palpable — the Pather Panchali theme song is where music meets life, creating a symphony.
The theme of Feluda will always conjure images of the sleuth’s many adventures. Chelebela, borobela, burobela, #FeludaSupremacy and the theme are inseparable.
Charu’s love and longing and the lives of three characters caught in a complicated web. The notes of the Charulata theme tell a story.
Camel Ride from ‘Sonar Kella’
If adventure has a theme, it is this.
Bonus: ‘Maharaja Tomare Selam’ from ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’
Can we imagine Goopy-Bagha and Shundir raja meeting without this song?
To the maestro, the Ray of hope, Maharaja, tomare selam.