Ray’s Ravi Shankar, a book based on Satyajit Ray’s script and sketches for a documentary on the sitar maestro will be released today

Satyajit Ray was recording the background score for Pather Panchali (Song Of The Road) with Pandit Ravi Shankar. The sitar maestro was totally involved in his work when Ray asked him to stop. An astonished Shankar stared at Ray as he asked Shankar to record only as much as required.

Shankar was astonished but never questioned Ray. He did exactly as he was asked too. The result was simply brilliant. The sitar counters during the monsoon rains in Pather Panchali sounded like a flowing rivulet. Restraint was the motto of Ray in every department of filmmaking including music. Shankar understood this very well and his rapport with Ray is legendary.

Way back in the 1940s, Ray saw Neechanagar and Dharti Ke Lal. He was fascinated by Ravi Shankar’s score in both films. The use of the sitar, country drums and flute during the climax of Neechanagar moved him. He made up his mind to work with Shankar if he ever directed a film.

His dream came true with Pather Panchali in 1955. So strong was their association right from their debut film that both worked together again in Aparajito, Apur Sansar and Paras Pathar with resounding success. Shankar read the script of Apu Trilogy a number of times and submitted himself totally to the filmmaker. In Ray, Ravi Shankar discovered a true creator, who understood the language of cinema.

Ray was not the proverbial dictator. His views at work were crystal clear. He never imposed himself on his artists, technicians or composers. Yet he never allowed any of his teammates to go overboard. Be it Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan or Ali Akbar Khan, Ray handled them with equal efficiency.

Though Shankar cannot be exactly termed Ray’s musical soul, like Maurice Jarr was of Sir David Lean’s, the Ray-Shankar combination created cinematic wonders acclaimed internationally. The usage of the bamboo flute created emotional waves in Aparajito while the sitar interludes in Paras Pathar had a comic but meaningful touch.

In the late 1950s, Ray decided to shoot a full-length documentary on Ravi Shankar. He prepared the script with the required sketches in his inimitable way. Ray for the first time used water colours for his drawings in the script of this documentary. Sadly, the documentary never went on floors.

Harper Collins, India in association with Satyajit Ray Society is publishing the script in a book form, Ray’s Ravi Shankar that will be released by the iconic actor Naseeruddin Shah at Kolkata on Ray’s birthday today (May 2) as he delivers the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture.

The original script and story board are intact making Ray’s Ravi Shankar a delight for readers of all ages. Just as Ravi Shankar was Ray’s, Ray was Ravi Shankar’s to the core.

Ray started composing for his films himself with Teen Kanya (Three Daughters by Rabindranath Tagore) 1961 onward. Still he maintained his relationship with Shankar till the end of his life. So grieved was Ravi Shankar at Ray’s demise that he composed and created an exclusive album in his memory.