Satyajit Ray, filmmaker extraordinaire, has been a constant source of pleasure. His early films such as Pather Panchali (The Song Of The Road) and Jalsaghar (The Music Room) had a down-to-earth simplicity that he never lost even as he took on other themes like the light-hearted Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha) or the emotionally affecting Ghare Baire (The Home And The World). He did not allow himself to be drawn into the socialist zeitgeist of the sixties and seventies, that caught up many of his contemporary film-makers like Ritwik Ghatak (Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star), Mrinal Sen and Shyam Benegal, although his social commentary was as trenchant as theirs.
He was an immensely talented filmmaker, writing all his own screenplays, designing the sets and costumes, and handling the camera post-Charulata. He composed much of the music and designed the artwork for the film. He designed at least two fonts - the typefaces Ray Roman and Ray Bizarre. He received numerous honors, not least the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.
His first film "Pather Panchali" was based on the novel by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee. It is set in a small Bengal village in the 1920s. A Brahmin priest, Harihar, lives with his family and aged cousin in dire poverty. The birth of his son, Apu, seems to uplift the family out of their daily toil. Apu and his sister Durga grow close, play numerous childlike games in the dusty streets of the village and discover the small and secret wonders of life - from a train to a marriage ceremony. Their aunt, Indir, is an independent-spirited woman, who perhaps creates a sense of adventure and hope in Apu. She tells the children numerous stories, is mocked and cast out temporarily by her sister-in-law, and enfin, dies quietly and alone in a mango grove, accompanied only by the strains of Ravi Shankar's sitar. Things start to unravel now, and Durga is accused of a theft. Once cleared, the rains come, causing much joy in the village. Durga's dance in the rain leaves her ill and at death's door. Her father is away on one of his many trips in search of work. He returns to find a grieving household. His realization of his loss destroys him and he collapses in grief. The film ends with the family leaving the village in a cart, bound for Varanasi, spiritual center of Hinduism.