Over 1,000 negatives of shooting stills either taken by filmmaker Satyajit Ray or his close confidants and the maestros correspondences with his contemporaries have tumbled out from the closet of his Bishop Lefroy Road residence here during the ongoing lockdown period.
The lifetime Oscar winners director son Sandip Ray told PTI on Saturday, the 99th birthday of the auteur, that it was no less than a goldmine containing hitherto unknown negatives capturing different still frames of his film shoots from the 50s till the early 90s.
“For instance when Baba started shooting the outdoors of Pather Panchali in the early 50s, he did not have a still photographer to record the happenings unlike in later years and many still frames were captured by the film’s art director Banshi Chandragupta. Baba himself also took still shots,” Sandip said.
The findings also include shooting still negatives of Aparajito and Apur Sansar as well as later works like Charulata, Jalsaghar, to name a few. Over 1,000 negatives of all these works had already been traced in the boxes kept in the loft next to the drawing room and also in a corner of the room in which the celebrated director used to spend a lot of time while at home, he said.
“I think we may have reached only half of the total collection kept unknown in the boxes in all these years. Further search will unravel a lot more,” he said. Asked why it took so long to find out the ‘gems’ for film aficionados and Ray lovers and film historians, Sandip said: “we had often thought about opening the vault and check what lay inside, but did not have the required space and time.
“However just before lockdown happened we decided to start the search operation during the period and look what we have stumbled upon already. We intend to make most of the lockdown period to carry on our search. I am sure it will throw up more surprises.”
The findings also comprise of letters and telegrams to Ray from legendary global faces of cinema like Akira Kurosawa, Richard Attenborough and Arthur C Clarke apart from other letters sent to Ray from various quarters.
“Once we create a database of the collectives in future, it will help in better chronicling the time Baba was actively making films. Restoring the negatives and make good quality prints will be one of the key steps. During next year to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of him we will put these for display for the first time,” Sandip said.
Since the shifting of Ray’s base along with his family from Lake Avenue, Lake Temple Road to his last address Bishop Lefroy Road, all his belongings used to be shifted from one place to another and this was one reason the boxful of treasures became less conspicuous with the passage of time lying on one side of the room.
“The news can lift the gloom of lockdown,” Sandip said, adding the cleanup and search operation will continue during the period.