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OUR FILMS THEIR FILMS - By Satyajit Ray (Must Read Books on Indian Cinema)


Our Films Their Films - Review  by Bobby Sing

The name Satyajit Ray needs no introduction to anyone who is even remotely interested in Indian Cinema and its diverse range of regions or languages. And if you are one of those passionate followers of both Indian and World Cinema, loving all its insightful maestros & their creations, then this is a must read for you as an exceptional journey into the past, featuring many great quotes, anecdotes and immensely valuable information for the students of the medium.
Having said that, OUR FILMS THEIR FILMS is also a book which might be difficult to relate with for the present generation, since it doesn’t talk about any technical & conceptual advancements in cinema of the last 40 years, but mainly refers to the era and the films before the 70s.  A collection of Ray’s essays, personal experiences, travelogues and more, it is one of the first books published in this form by Orient Longman in 1976 and has been divided into two parts namely, Our Films (Indian films & its film-makers) and Their Films (The Cinema being made in the rest of the world by the renowned directors).
In the first part Ray talks about himself, shares few interesting stories behind the making of gems like PATHER PANCHALI (1955) & JALSAGHAR (1958), along with his honest thoughts on the works of M.S.Sathyu, Shyam Benegal, Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani and more. Then in the second part, he pens few immensely valuable pages on the era of silent films and mentions the works of Jean Renoir, Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, Vittorio De Sica, Francois Truffaut, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock too in his own straight forward style.
Its a 200+ page book in which Ray beautifully describes the development of cinema over the initial years and then strongly admits that film making is in fact the most toughest activity in the medium of creative arts unarguably. As per his vision, if you decide to be in it, then come prepared to face extreme challenges at every single step leading to a satisfying end and nothing less than that.
To end on a thoughtful note, here are some ‘Ray Quotes’ from the book which should be enough to put you on a thinking mode and inspire to read this precious book at the earliest, following your creative passion.
On his vision of film making :
“Ideally, the director should be his own cameraman or at least be able to impose a visual approach on his cameraman.”
“It is dangerous for a cameraman to put forward creative suggestions unless he has the full emotional and visual sweep of the film in his mind.”
“There is no such thing as good photography per se. It is either right for a certain kind of film and therefore good; or wrong (however lush, well composed, meticulous) and therefore bad.”
On India, its films and film makers :
“The raw material of cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting, music and poetry should fail to move the film maker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.”
On Silent Films and introduction of Sound in Cinema :
The Silent film was never meant to be viewed in silence, but with the accompaniment of music.”
“Sound, as we know, brought the cinema closer to nature. It also did something else. By introducing the spoken word, it took away some of its universality and introduced an element of regionalism.”

Publisher – Orient Longman (1976)
(Now available in its reprint edition easily.)

Tags : OUR FILMS THEIR FILMS By Satyajit Ray, Must Read Books on Indian Cinema, Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Books On Indian Cinema, Books by Satyajit Ray, Must Reads books on World Cinema.
05 Nov 2013 / Comment ( 2 )
Prakash Bhatia

Hi Bobbyji,
Thanks for posting a concise review of Ray\'s book.I hope it inspires our present generation yet to become film makers or students of massmedia. Prakash Bhatia

Bobby Sing

Thanks for the support Prakash Ji and thats exactly the basic pupose behind this article.

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