Satyajit Ray - The Last Phase (1983–92)

The Last Phase (1983–92)

In 1983, while working on Ghare Baire (Home and the World), Ray suffered a heart attack; it would severely limit his productivity in the remaining 9 years of his life. Ghare Baire was completed in 1984 with the help of Ray's son (who operated the camera from then on) because of his health condition. He had wanted to film this Tagore novel on the dangers of fervent nationalism for a long time, and wrote a first draft of a script for it in the 1940s. In spite of rough patches due to Ray's illness, the film did receive some critical acclaim. It had the first kiss fully portrayed in Ray's films. In 1987, he made a documentary on his father, Sukumar Ray.

Ray's last three films, made after his recovery and with medical strictures in place, were shot mostly indoors, and have a distinctive style. They have more dialogue than his earlier films and are often regarded as inferior to his earlier body of work. The first, Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People) is an adaptation of the famous Ibsen play, and considered the weakest of the three. Ray recovered some of his form in his 1990 film Shakha Proshakha (Branches of the Tree). In it, an old man, who has lived a life of honesty, comes to learn of the corruption of three of his sons. The final scene shows the father finding solace only in the companionship of his fourth son, who is uncorrupted but mentally ill. Ray's last film, Agantuk (The Stranger), is lighter in mood but not in theme. When a long-lost uncle arrives to visit his niece in Calcutta, he arouses suspicion as to his motive. This provokes far-ranging questions in the film about civilization.

In 1992, Ray's health deteriorated due to heart complications. He was admitted to a hospital, and would never recover. An Honorary Oscar was awarded to him twenty-four days before his death, which he received in a gravely ill condition. He died on 23 April 1992 at the age of 70.

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