chidananda dasgupta#24

Chidananda Dasgupta est l’ami des premières heures. En 1947, il fonde ensemble avec Satyajit Ray la Calcutta Film Society, et sera quelques années plus tard le témoin des premières journées de tournage de Pather Panchali…

9 février 1999, nous nous rendons à Santiniketan, à 3 heures de train de Calcutta.. Chidananda Dasgupta nous accueille en début d’après-midi dans sa maison de campagne. 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 quittés 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 et précis dans ses analyses, en phase avec ses convictions, mais conscient de ne pas avoir toujours vu juste, n’éludant aucune question, même celles qui ravivent des souvenirs amers…Chidananda Dasgupta était un homme foncièrement bon, ces quelques images lui rendent hommage. 


memories of ray­#24_chidananda dasgupta_’ let me tell you a story…’_ chidananda’s anecdotes reveal so much about who Ray really was: ‘in spite of all the praise he received from abroad, he remained a Bengali filmmaker’. In this excerpt Chidananda also mentions the episode of ‘The Alien’, whose drawing shows an unfair kind of ressemblance to E.T! ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#23

memories of ray­#23_chidananda dasgupta_’Ray was a man of varied abilities of high order’_Chidananda talks about the challenge of writing a book on Ray, and reflects brilliantly on how Ray’s work will pass the test of time’ ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#22

memories of ray­#22_chidananda dasgupta_’ he was getting me interested in films, and succeeded to do so! Even though he sometimes accused me of not understanding what he was trying to do in a film, and I sometimes pointed out that he hadn’t understood certain things that i had written…but by and large, it is a very valuable and memorable friendship’_Chidananda thinks back on his long association with Ray and reflects on how difficult it is to be a fair critic to Ray’s artistry ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#21

memories of ray­#21_chidananda dasgupta_i never saw him again…it was a very tragic kind of end to our friendship ‘. Chidananda remembers with great sorrow the ending of his long established friendship with Ray, due to a very harsh review he wrote about Ray’s last film…At the time of the interview in 1999, 10 years after it happened, Chidananda was still feeling bad and guilty about this review….He told us: ‘I forever will regret it, everyday of my life…I said things i should not have said…Ray said nasty things on me after that, which i don’t hold against him…I think i deserved it…’ ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#20

memories of ray­#20_chidananda dasgupta_ ‘Darkness spreads itself across the forest…’ Chidananda talks about the ‘Calcutta trilogy’, Ray’s exploration of bitter modern youth in the city’s ‘jungle’, and about Ray’s empathy with children: ‘from Pather Panchali, we see his extraordinary ability to understand children and to see clearly what is going on in their minds, and to make them express themselves in their own way, be natural…Ray hated children speaking like adults…!’ ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#19

memories of ray­#19_chidananda dasgupta_ ‘ Days and nights in the forest’ came at a moment when Ray was looking for a way to express, for the first time, his feelings towards the new generation’. Chidananda talks about one of Ray’s best films, and analyses one of the most outstanding scenes in the film and in Ray’s filmography, the memory game ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#18

memories of ray­#18_chidananda dasgupta_ ‘Ray never employed an actor against his own character’. Chidananda Dasgupta talks about Charulata, and about the perfection in acting of Soumitra Chatterjee and Madhabi Mukherjee ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#17

memories of ray­#17_chidananda dasgupta_’the three were one person, constantly reinventing the wheel’. Chidananda Dasgupta talks about the organic association of Ray with his cameraman Subrata Mitra and his art director Bansi Chandragupta ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#16

memories of ray­#16_chidananda dasgupta_’awareness’. Chidananda Dasgupta talks about Deliverance, and about the presence in Ray’s films of that character that triggers off the action, that makes the other characters think more profoundly, about Ray’s impact in the West, about ‘Jalsaghar’,…( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )

chidananda dasgupta#15

memories of ray­#15_chidananda dasgupta_’the mythic and the ordinary’. Chidananda reflects deeply on Ray’s relation with Indian art, Santiniketan and Tagore, on Ray’s inclination for understatements, and on the bridge between the East and the West as a possible representation of Ray’s oeuvre’ ( recorded in Santiniketan in 1999 )