9 février 1999, Santiniketan, à 3 heures de train de Calcutta. Chidananda Dasgupta nous accueille en début d’après-midi dans sa maison de campagne. Il est l’ami des premières heures, il fut le témoin des premières journées de tournage de Pather Panchali Sa mémoire est vive, son érudition encyclopédique et sa soif de raconter intarrissable, et ce qui devait être une interview de deux heures se terminera le lendemain, tard dans la nuit…
Chidananda Dasgupta nous a quitté en 2011 . A tort ou à raison, il n’aura pas toujours joui d’une très bonne image dans certains cercles proches de Satyajit Ray. Nuançons. Nous avons le souvenir d’avoir passé deux jours en compagnie d’un homme humble, investi dans ses analyses, en phase avec ses convictions, mais conscient de ne pas avoir toujours vu juste, n’éludant aucune question, même celles qui ravivaient des souvenirs amers…Chidananda Dasgupta était un homme foncièrement bon, ces quelques images lui rendent hommage et lui font honneur.
memories of ray#12 / chidananda dasgupta / « Pather Panchali broke every convention of indian cinema, in a way, Pather Panchal, and Ray, had to happen ». Chidananda Dasgupta followed the shooting of Pather Panchali from close by, his record is from the source.
memories of ray#11 / chidananda dasgupta / ‘they don’t know how to push a camera button and they think they are going to do a masterpiece’ / Pather Panchali is the tale of a double apprenticeship : Apu experimenting with life and death and Ray learning the art of filmmaking. Ray even said ‘some of the delays in the making appeared to have been blessings in disguise’. Chidananda Dasgupta followed the shooting of Pather Panchali from close by, his record is from the source.
memories of ray#10 / chidananda dasgupta / ‘this film won’t work!’ / Chidananda Dasgupta talks about the making of Pather Panchali, and remembers the day the film was released: ‘ We were all tense with expectation, in the Coffee House Satyajit Ray was standing like a piece of wood…The first week, there were hardly a quarter of the seats filled, the second week was a little better, the third week the place was full, and the fourth week people were begging for tickets…It was a tremendous success on its own in Calcutta, without any help, without any certificate from abroad’
memories of ray#9 / chidananda dasgupta / ‘I want to make films, i don’t want to talk about them’ / Chidananda Dasgupta remembers Ray’s change of mind while working as a graphic designer at Keymers: ‘ Ray was waiting for something, but he didn’t know exactly what it was. He had lost interest in the Calcutta Film Society, and started writing articles which expressed his disatisfaction with the Indian cinema. He wanted to start making films. But from the word ‘go’ the film industry was against us…These mad caps? They read books and they think they can make films by reading books?’…
( recorded in Santiniketan, february 1999 )
memories of ray#8 / chidananda dasgupta / ‘don’t copy Hollywood, look at reality around you’ / Chidananda Dasgupta remembers Renoir’s visit to Calcutta and the many different impacts it had on Ray: ’Rays’ particular type of contemplative realism was something born out of the Hollywood narrative, the Italian neorealistic approach to filmmaking, the physical realities of filmmaking, a kind of slowness of tempo, and the French culture vitality which touched his mind… it all combined to form the ground of his filmmaking’
( recorded in Santiniketan, february 1999 )
memories of ray#7_chidananda dasgupta_‘the coffee house days’_ Chidananda remembers: ‘Although it was a very free kind of association without any purpose as such, the Coffee House meetings complemented what we were doing at the Calcutta Film Society’.
memories of ray#6_chidananda dasgupta_‘then one day he said : ‘why don’t we start a fim society?_ Chidananda Dasgupta reflects sweetly on the early hours of his friendship with Ray and on the founding of the Calcutta Film Society. ( recorded in Santiniketan, february 1999 )
memories of ray#5_chidananda dasgupta_‘he was the artist and i was the analyst’_ Ray was only two years old when his father died. It was through his mother and other relatives that the imaged personalities of his father and grandfather were projected on him., so the impression he received was that of high minded idealists dreaming to change so many things. Chidananda Dasgupta talks about Ray’s childhood. Was his destiny already traced as a child?