Ekushe Aain? Hijibibij? Kheror Khata? Taal Betaal? None of these is a creation of Satyajit Ray, whose 101st birth centenary we celebrate on May 2. They comprise the very endearing genre of writing, featuring irony, sarcasm, satire, innocent humour and charming story-telling that Ray championed and made his own. These names also underpin the cultural aspects of the Ray 101 birth anniversary celebrations that got off to an enthusiastic start on March 15.
More than 3,000 schools, colleges, universities and institutions were invited to participate in four categories of competitive events featuring short-film making (Ekushe Ain), creative writing (Kheor Khata), and creative painting (Hijibijibij) and music (Taal-Betaal). The entries are in and the jury is still out.
For the creative writing segment, the committee has turned to Ray’s paternal aunt, Lila Majumdar, the much-loved writer of Kheror Khata, amongst other delightful stories and anecdotes that have a timeless quality. In this category, the committee has invited original writing on characters created by Ray in his films and literature.
The canvas for the competitive painting segment, Hijibijibij, derives inspiration from Sukumar Ray’s amazing character, who conjures curious pictures in his mind and rolls over with laughter talking about them. The committee invited remakes of posters and or other images from Ray’s works under this category.
The outcome of the competition, one learns, is a happy one. “The idea of making the celebrations an inclusive one over several creative fields was to energize dialogue and debate around Ray’s genius, especially amongst the youth. The competitive first phase will culminate in a valedictory session on May 2, at the Kala Mandir, Kolkata, where Adoor Gopalakrishnan will deliver a talk on the multifaceted genius that Ray was,” said the president of the organising committee, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, speaking to the Statesman.
The main cultural event will feature a 15-minute documentary on the creativity of Satyajit Ray along with interviews of eminent personalities from India and overseas on Ray’s profound cultural impact; a 20-minute dance theatre based on the pieces from “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne” and “Hirak Rajar Deshe” and its contemporary interpretation.
Other significant events on May 2, include the release of a publication on the mémoires of national and international associates of Satyajit Ray. It will also feature rare photographs, articles and interviews; an exhibition of photographs on Ray’s creativity with contributions from several artists.