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Launch of Satyajit Ray website

Thursday, August 24, 2006
London/Kolkata (UNI): The world of Satyajit Ray is just a click away, while a Ray Museum is on the anvil, as envisaged by his son Sandip Ray. Talking to UNI, Sandip Ray said, "We are launching the website www.worldofray.com on August 26 co-inciding with the 51st anniversary of the maestro's maiden film 'Pather Panchali'. It will allow the millions of Ray enthusiasts to get to know my father better." "The portal will be interactive and informative, while keeping the entertainment content in mind. We are hosting several of Ray's pictures, digitised versions of his manuscripts, sketches and documents that will give the website a real life feel," said Sandip Ray, who is the member secretary of Ray Society.

The 250 page website, that will be hosted by Society for the Preservation of the Satyajit Ray Films, is an exhaustive detail on the multi-faceted maestro. It deals with every aspect of Ray's life and creation starting from some audio and video clips of his films and music, to the details of preserving his manuscripts, book-jackets which he had designed and also his advertisement stuff. "The portal will have a downloadable image at some stage and there will also be an e-shop from where Ray goodies can be brought at a price," Ray said.

He said the most difficult part of the process was to collect everything from various sources and then get them to be restored. "But a major part of the job have been completed. Now the cataloging of the books are going on," he added. "The background and origins of the Society for the Preservation of the Satyajit Ray Films, better known as the Satyajit Ray Society go back to March 30, 1992," Sandip remembers. The world watched a frail Satyajit Ray speak clearly and firmly with wry humour from his intensive care unit hospital bed in Kolkata. It was the 64th Annual Academy Awards night at the Dorothy Chandler Auditorium in Los Angles where Ray was honoured with a lifetime achievement Special Oscar. Audrey Hepburn emceed the event.

The Academy's Grants Committee, chaired by Daniel Taradash, gave a modest grant to Dilip Kr Basu, Director of Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection. It enabled Basu to accompany David Shepherd, a pioneer in film preservation, to India to examine the original Ray film negatives and file a technical report. Shepherd wrote in his report, "The work of no other world class filmmaker hangs on such a thin thread as Satyajit Ray's." The report drew attention of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and on its initiative on May 1993 the idea of forming an organisation to restore and preserve the luminous legacies of Ray was born, Sandip said.

The website include hundreds of photographs, including rare ones taken by Ray himself, as well as numerous write-ups---on his stint as film director, fiction writer, calligraphist, designer and copy artist. Among the photographs are one shot by him of Italian film director Michelangelo Antoninio and Japanese director Akira Kurosawa on elephant back in Agra and another of the three together at the Taj Mahal, dating back to more than three decades ago, Arup Dey, CEO of Ray Society told UNI.The Ray society has been working on preservation of Ray artifacts for the last decade and more than 70,000 of his manuscripts, scripts, scrapbooks, cover designs and book illustrations have been restored under the able supervision of Mike Wheeler, renowned preservator of Victoria Albert Museum of the UK.

The society has also restored 16 of the 36 Ray classics with the help of the Academy. The Ray admirers will have a glimpse of all the restored legacy of the maestro in the portal, Dey said. Sandip Ray further told UNI that he has plans of making a Museum on Satyajit Ray that will have collection of his photograps and all of his legacy and also a study centre and a film screening centre. "But that is a vision that will take time to be in full flight. However work is on," he added.Sandip also added that the portal that will be launched has a fascinating section that has Ray's comments on Pandit Ravi Shankar and his script of his unmade film 'The Alien' along with two of his short stories that have been put up for reading.

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