Satyajit Ray became an internationally reputed director with his very first film which was considered among the best in the world. No other Indian filmmaker prior to him with the exception of Chetan Anand won any award at Cannes. Ray eclipsed even Chetan Anand with his cinematic excellence.
Ray's tryst with Tagore's short stories, "Post Master", "Monihara" and "Samapti", formed the basis for Teen Kanya which received accolades at Cannes in 1961. His best satire, Paras Pathar, however, was not that much appreciated though the likes of Akira Kurosawa and Truffaut hailed it for its cinematic language.
Charulata, Ray's masterpiece based on Tagore's "Nastanir", was rejected at Cannes. This hurt Ray deeply, though he never expressed his discontent in public. There were protests from Sir David Lean, Ingmar Bergman and Robert Mulligan as to why Charulata was rejected. Very few know it is an all-time favourite with the French neo wave high priest, Jean Luc Goddard.
Once in the late 60s, Ray was invited to be a member of the jury at Cannes. Since he was given an economy class air ticket, he refused to go.
Ganashatru, one of the last films of Ray, did not create much of a ripple at Cannes. But French President Giscard d'Estaing did fly all the way down to Kolkata to present Ray the Legion D' Honour, the highest French civic award. A select few of world cinema have received equal honours.
The maestro's last two films, Sakha Prasakha and Agantuk, were very well received at Cannes. Even today almost two decades since he passed away, Cannes remembers him like no other filmmaker from India. His cut-outs are a must every year at the Festival and India is still referred to as the land of Ray and Apu.
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