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Land of Two Rivers
Land of Two Rivers
Description

About the Book

 

It is unusual to come across a life so rich in varied experiences as the one that Bijoya Ray, wife and constant ornpanion to the renowned film-maker Satyajit Ray, has ved. Despite being closely related, Satyajit-'Manik' to his friends and family-and Bijoya fell in love and embarked n a life together years before Ray's groundbreaking film 'ather Panchali was made, and their long, happy married life lasted right until Ray's death in 1992.

 

Bijoya Ray never felt the urge to write her memoirs, but was nally persuaded to pick up the pen when she was well into her eighties. Manik and I brims over with hitherto unknown stories of her life with Satyajit Ray, told in candid, vivid detail. What emerges through Bijoya Ray's recollections is a fascinating portrait of Ray the man, the film - maker, the auteur, the husband and the father.

 

Translated from the Bengali by Indrani Majumdar

 

About the Author

 

Bijoya Ray, born in October 1917 in Patna, was the daughter of the noted barrister Charuchandra Das and Madhuri Devi. After her father's death in 1931, Bijoya was brought up in her uncle's joint family in Calcutta. She took lessons in music from her aunt, and mastered Rabindra Sangeet, and Indian classical and semi-classical music. After graduating in English, she appeared in a film based on Tagore's Sesbraksba, and later Rajani and Masbal in Bombay. She married Satyajit Ray in 1948. A committed social worker at Mother Teresa's 'Nirmal Hriday', she was also an occasional contributor to the journal Sandesb, after Ray revived it in 1961. After Ray's death in 1992, she became one of its editors for a brief spell. Bijoya lives in Calcutta with her son, the noted film-maker Sandip, daughter-in-law and grandson.

 

Indrani Majumdar lives in Delhi but has her roots firmly based in Bengali culture. Her bilingualism has helped her career as she has translated Bengali texts into English and vice versa. A keen researcher, her vocation in life has been to explore the various facets of Satyajit Ray's work. At present she works with the Programme Office, India International Centre, Delhi.

 

Preface

 

I know of no other instance when someone has been asked to turn into a writer at the age of eighty-four. I left college in 1938, and since then I've written a few letters, and maintained a regular diary after my son was born. That has been the extent of my writing. So I never felt any urge to write my own memoirs. This happened quite out of the blue, although I no longer remember how it all came about.

 

Once I started writing, I had to continue till the very end. There was certainly plenty to write about - I could write volumes on the person who was with me every day, from morning till night. While writing about him, it was only inevitable that I would become part of these memoirs too. I finally decided to stick to the subject I know best.

 

Everyone's life is made up of joy and sorrow. But the happiness I have received has far outweighed the misery I have had to face, and I never found it difficult to deal with whatever sorrow came my way.

After he left us, I never thought I would ever return to normal again.

 

How would I live without him? For as long as I lived, I would never get over the grief of losing him. The rest of my life would be spent mourning him. But time is such a strange thing - my son, daughter-in-law and beloved grandson gradually helped me return to normal, although I cannot say how or when this happened. Their support, care, love and warmth brought me back to a regular life. There can be few as fortunate as I! I've brought up my only child with all possible care and affection, and so it's only natural that he would be concerned and loving in return. But I'm blessed to have been given a daughter-in-law like mine. Forever cheerful, caring, loving and generous, she has taken over the responsibility of looking after our family. And as for my grandson, he is at the very centre of my life.

 

So many of our friends have left us, especially a few who could have helped me write this memoir. One of them in particular would have been of invaluable help, our production manager Anil Choudhury. His sharp and precise memory never failed to amaze. It's my misfortune to have lost him a few years ago. His extraordinary devotion and efficiency made him indispensable to Manik's unit. I was heavily dependent on him.

 

Manik's closest friend, the art director Bansi Chandragupta, died in 1981; his place was taken by Ashoke Bose. He too left us soon after Manik. Bhanu (Ghosh Dastidar), Durgadas Mitra, Sujit Sarkar (the sound recordist), Aminta Das (the make-up man), all of whom were extremely proficient in their work, also left us one by one. I also remember the cameraman, Subrata Mitra. I doubt that our country has seen a brilliant cameraman such as him.

 

I must mention another cameraman, Barun Raha. He worked with Manik on his last few films, and later worked with my son as well. He was young, older than Babu by only a few years, but died suddenly of a cerebral stroke while shooting for a telefilm. I was very fond of Barun and found it very hard to accept his death.

 

And now I am waiting for my turn to leave. I'm getting on in years, after all. Since the last three years I have been bedridden with a fractured leg. There's no lack of attention: everyone in the family looks after me. It pains me to think that Manik couldn't live to see his grandson grow. When he died, the child was just a year and five months old.

 

So many of Manik's special friends have gone that were I to start listing their names, it would fill an entire book. I shall only mention Shantul Babu, as Manik respected his erudition and knowledge of all things greatly. If I needed clarification on something, I would always run to Manik, who would then explain it patiently; but at times he asked me to go to Shantul Babu. There were some matters that Manik needed to look up and think upon too, while Shantulbabu seemed to know everything.

 

I could never have written this account had a few eminent people not helped me along the way. Prominent among them is Nirendranath Chakrabarty, who took time off his busy schedule to set many facts right for me. Shri Partha Basu's untiring assistance considerably eased my workload. There was no one more adept than him when it came to editing the language, checking facts and locating the correct names of various family members and friends. He was aided and encouraged in this job by my son and daughter-in-law. Quite a few unknown readers sent encouraging letters, as well as supplied me with additional facts. It was only thanks to Badal Basu's repeated reminders that I could finally complete this book. Harsh Dutta had initially encouraged me to serialize this account in a journal. My friend Archana, daughter-in-law of Dr Bidhan Ray's brother, was of immense help in writing this book.

 

I end this account by recording the debt of gratitude I owe them all.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

ix

 

Photo Acknowledgements

xi

 

Translator's Introduction

xiii

1.

Manik Was So Much a Part of My Childhood

1

2.

She Is Such a Little Girl, Will She Be Able to Sing on Stage?

16

3.

Manik Was Far Too Timid and Shy

29

4.

I Never Knew What It Was to Lack Money

44

5.

My Intimacy with Manik Begins

58

6.

I Want to Forget This Chapter in My Life

73

 

She Had Brought Up Manik Very Strictly

90

7.

We Had Such a Happy Time

104

8.

I Decided Not to Annoy Him Any More

117

9.

All the Responsibility Landed on My Shoulders

129

10.

You Have a Son, a Bonny Son!

142

11.

Only One Day Did I Try to Be Strict with Babu

158

12.

I've Never Seen Him So Helpless

177

13.

Apur Sansar Celebrated Its Silver Jubilee

192

14.

I'll Never Forget Those Joyful Days in Darjeeling

209

15.

Manik Knew of an Amusing Trait about Selznick

227

16.

Manik's Laughter Was Open, Unrestrained

245

17.

We Faced a Lot of Trouble with Googa Baba, Including Picketing

266

19.

He Always Remained a Bit Tense while Composing Music

284

20.

He Was Never in Favour of Bringing Humans Down to the Level of Animals

303

21.

I Was So Engrossed in the Children

317

22.

The Year Had Begun on an Unpleasant Note

335

23.

Manik Accepted the Golden Bear Award in His Inimitable Style

349

24.

There Was an Unpleasant Incident One Day

366

25.

Shooting Continued Every Day, as Did the Power Cuts

381

26.

In the Meantime, We Received Some Unbelievably Good News

396

27.

The News of Renoir's Death Upset Manik Deeply

412

28.

Calcutta Was Going through a Period of Turmoil

426

29.

What Was He Saying? That Bansi Is No More?

442

30.

Salman Rushdie Arrived Suddenly One Evening

459

31.

I Was Terrified

474

32.

Indira Gandhi Was Assassinated by Her Own Security Guards

492

.33.

We Returned Home to Find the Police Waiting for Us

506

34.

He Finally Found a Story

520

35.

'Sikka Palace' Was Transformed into a Virtual Heaven

535

36.

Manik Had Received an Oscar

551

37.

I Couldn't Bring Myself to Accept That He Was No More

565

 

Notes

575

 

Bengali Kinship Terms

579

 

Biographical Notes

581

 

Ray's Feature Films

596

 

Ray's Film Unit over the Years

598

 

Index

599

 

Land of Two Rivers

Item Code:
NAF708
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2011
ISBN:
9780143416784
Language:
English
Size:
8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Pages:
662
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 595 gms
Price:
$35.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

 

It is unusual to come across a life so rich in varied experiences as the one that Bijoya Ray, wife and constant ornpanion to the renowned film-maker Satyajit Ray, has ved. Despite being closely related, Satyajit-'Manik' to his friends and family-and Bijoya fell in love and embarked n a life together years before Ray's groundbreaking film 'ather Panchali was made, and their long, happy married life lasted right until Ray's death in 1992.

 

Bijoya Ray never felt the urge to write her memoirs, but was nally persuaded to pick up the pen when she was well into her eighties. Manik and I brims over with hitherto unknown stories of her life with Satyajit Ray, told in candid, vivid detail. What emerges through Bijoya Ray's recollections is a fascinating portrait of Ray the man, the film - maker, the auteur, the husband and the father.

 

Translated from the Bengali by Indrani Majumdar

 

About the Author

 

Bijoya Ray, born in October 1917 in Patna, was the daughter of the noted barrister Charuchandra Das and Madhuri Devi. After her father's death in 1931, Bijoya was brought up in her uncle's joint family in Calcutta. She took lessons in music from her aunt, and mastered Rabindra Sangeet, and Indian classical and semi-classical music. After graduating in English, she appeared in a film based on Tagore's Sesbraksba, and later Rajani and Masbal in Bombay. She married Satyajit Ray in 1948. A committed social worker at Mother Teresa's 'Nirmal Hriday', she was also an occasional contributor to the journal Sandesb, after Ray revived it in 1961. After Ray's death in 1992, she became one of its editors for a brief spell. Bijoya lives in Calcutta with her son, the noted film-maker Sandip, daughter-in-law and grandson.

 

Indrani Majumdar lives in Delhi but has her roots firmly based in Bengali culture. Her bilingualism has helped her career as she has translated Bengali texts into English and vice versa. A keen researcher, her vocation in life has been to explore the various facets of Satyajit Ray's work. At present she works with the Programme Office, India International Centre, Delhi.

 

Preface

 

I know of no other instance when someone has been asked to turn into a writer at the age of eighty-four. I left college in 1938, and since then I've written a few letters, and maintained a regular diary after my son was born. That has been the extent of my writing. So I never felt any urge to write my own memoirs. This happened quite out of the blue, although I no longer remember how it all came about.

 

Once I started writing, I had to continue till the very end. There was certainly plenty to write about - I could write volumes on the person who was with me every day, from morning till night. While writing about him, it was only inevitable that I would become part of these memoirs too. I finally decided to stick to the subject I know best.

 

Everyone's life is made up of joy and sorrow. But the happiness I have received has far outweighed the misery I have had to face, and I never found it difficult to deal with whatever sorrow came my way.

After he left us, I never thought I would ever return to normal again.

 

How would I live without him? For as long as I lived, I would never get over the grief of losing him. The rest of my life would be spent mourning him. But time is such a strange thing - my son, daughter-in-law and beloved grandson gradually helped me return to normal, although I cannot say how or when this happened. Their support, care, love and warmth brought me back to a regular life. There can be few as fortunate as I! I've brought up my only child with all possible care and affection, and so it's only natural that he would be concerned and loving in return. But I'm blessed to have been given a daughter-in-law like mine. Forever cheerful, caring, loving and generous, she has taken over the responsibility of looking after our family. And as for my grandson, he is at the very centre of my life.

 

So many of our friends have left us, especially a few who could have helped me write this memoir. One of them in particular would have been of invaluable help, our production manager Anil Choudhury. His sharp and precise memory never failed to amaze. It's my misfortune to have lost him a few years ago. His extraordinary devotion and efficiency made him indispensable to Manik's unit. I was heavily dependent on him.

 

Manik's closest friend, the art director Bansi Chandragupta, died in 1981; his place was taken by Ashoke Bose. He too left us soon after Manik. Bhanu (Ghosh Dastidar), Durgadas Mitra, Sujit Sarkar (the sound recordist), Aminta Das (the make-up man), all of whom were extremely proficient in their work, also left us one by one. I also remember the cameraman, Subrata Mitra. I doubt that our country has seen a brilliant cameraman such as him.

 

I must mention another cameraman, Barun Raha. He worked with Manik on his last few films, and later worked with my son as well. He was young, older than Babu by only a few years, but died suddenly of a cerebral stroke while shooting for a telefilm. I was very fond of Barun and found it very hard to accept his death.

 

And now I am waiting for my turn to leave. I'm getting on in years, after all. Since the last three years I have been bedridden with a fractured leg. There's no lack of attention: everyone in the family looks after me. It pains me to think that Manik couldn't live to see his grandson grow. When he died, the child was just a year and five months old.

 

So many of Manik's special friends have gone that were I to start listing their names, it would fill an entire book. I shall only mention Shantul Babu, as Manik respected his erudition and knowledge of all things greatly. If I needed clarification on something, I would always run to Manik, who would then explain it patiently; but at times he asked me to go to Shantul Babu. There were some matters that Manik needed to look up and think upon too, while Shantulbabu seemed to know everything.

 

I could never have written this account had a few eminent people not helped me along the way. Prominent among them is Nirendranath Chakrabarty, who took time off his busy schedule to set many facts right for me. Shri Partha Basu's untiring assistance considerably eased my workload. There was no one more adept than him when it came to editing the language, checking facts and locating the correct names of various family members and friends. He was aided and encouraged in this job by my son and daughter-in-law. Quite a few unknown readers sent encouraging letters, as well as supplied me with additional facts. It was only thanks to Badal Basu's repeated reminders that I could finally complete this book. Harsh Dutta had initially encouraged me to serialize this account in a journal. My friend Archana, daughter-in-law of Dr Bidhan Ray's brother, was of immense help in writing this book.

 

I end this account by recording the debt of gratitude I owe them all.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

ix

 

Photo Acknowledgements

xi

 

Translator's Introduction

xiii

1.

Manik Was So Much a Part of My Childhood

1

2.

She Is Such a Little Girl, Will She Be Able to Sing on Stage?

16

3.

Manik Was Far Too Timid and Shy

29

4.

I Never Knew What It Was to Lack Money

44

5.

My Intimacy with Manik Begins

58

6.

I Want to Forget This Chapter in My Life

73

 

She Had Brought Up Manik Very Strictly

90

7.

We Had Such a Happy Time

104

8.

I Decided Not to Annoy Him Any More

117

9.

All the Responsibility Landed on My Shoulders

129

10.

You Have a Son, a Bonny Son!

142

11.

Only One Day Did I Try to Be Strict with Babu

158

12.

I've Never Seen Him So Helpless

177

13.

Apur Sansar Celebrated Its Silver Jubilee

192

14.

I'll Never Forget Those Joyful Days in Darjeeling

209

15.

Manik Knew of an Amusing Trait about Selznick

227

16.

Manik's Laughter Was Open, Unrestrained

245

17.

We Faced a Lot of Trouble with Googa Baba, Including Picketing

266

19.

He Always Remained a Bit Tense while Composing Music

284

20.

He Was Never in Favour of Bringing Humans Down to the Level of Animals

303

21.

I Was So Engrossed in the Children

317

22.

The Year Had Begun on an Unpleasant Note

335

23.

Manik Accepted the Golden Bear Award in His Inimitable Style

349

24.

There Was an Unpleasant Incident One Day

366

25.

Shooting Continued Every Day, as Did the Power Cuts

381

26.

In the Meantime, We Received Some Unbelievably Good News

396

27.

The News of Renoir's Death Upset Manik Deeply

412

28.

Calcutta Was Going through a Period of Turmoil

426

29.

What Was He Saying? That Bansi Is No More?

442

30.

Salman Rushdie Arrived Suddenly One Evening

459

31.

I Was Terrified

474

32.

Indira Gandhi Was Assassinated by Her Own Security Guards

492

.33.

We Returned Home to Find the Police Waiting for Us

506

34.

He Finally Found a Story

520

35.

'Sikka Palace' Was Transformed into a Virtual Heaven

535

36.

Manik Had Received an Oscar

551

37.

I Couldn't Bring Myself to Accept That He Was No More

565

 

Notes

575

 

Bengali Kinship Terms

579

 

Biographical Notes

581

 

Ray's Feature Films

596

 

Ray's Film Unit over the Years

598

 

Index

599

 

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