Today News Online Service
New Delhi, March 8
At a time when the BJP and the TMC are competing with each other about who represents Bengali culture better, the hollowness of the rivals’ claims has been exposed by their missing out on an occasion that means a lot in West Bengal.
May 2, the day chosen by the ECI for counting votes for the assembly elections in four states, including West Bengal, is the birthday of filmmaker Satyajit Ray.
Ray was born in Kolkata on this day in 1921. This year would be the hundredth birth anniversary of the maestro who, besides making films that give inspiration to others with directorial dreams like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyam Benegal, also created fictional characters like the private detective “Felu-da” and the inventor “Professor Shonku”, who have become part and parcel of everyday lives of Bengalis.
“Ray’s birth centenary would have been the right occasion to look at the history of film making in India and its future in the context of films made by Ray. Unfortunately, ECI has announced that May 2 would be the day when the assembly elections results would be announced. I would like to request the ECI to fix some other date for counting of votes so that it does not come in the way of Ray’s 100th birthday celebrations,” said Somnath Roy, who has co-edited a book of Ray’s media interviews.
Subhasish Chakraborty, a Ray fan from Ashoknagar, North 24 Parganas, said the birth anniversary of Ray could not be celebrated last year owing to the pandemic. “If parties like TMC and BJP truly respect Bengali culture, they should also urge the ECI to announce some other date for counting of votes,” Chakraborty said.
Ray’s son Sandip, who is also a filmmaker, however, is yet to say anything on the overlapping of his late father’s birth centenary with the day of the counting of votes.
Ironically, both TMC and BJP have been trying to cash in on Ray to win the elections. “Banglar Gorbo Mamata” (“Mamata is the pride of Bengal”), a Facebook group created by TMC’s political strategist Prashant Kishore, this morning posted a clip from “Apur Sansar” movie directed by Ray.
Conversations between the characters in the clip were changed to make the husband (played by Saumitra Chatterjee) a victim of retrenchment by BSNL and the wife (played by Sharmila Tagore) resorting to using coal stove for cooking since the family cannot afford to pay the high price of an LPG cylinder any more.
Last month, BJP leader and I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, with an eye to the assembly polls in West Bengal, announced that an award would be instituted in the same name of Satyajit Ray which would be equivalent to the prestigious “Dadasaheb Phalke Award” given to members of the film fraternity.