Art & Entertainment

Museum Of Modern Arts Ex-Curator Laurence Kardish: Ray's 'Pather Panchali' Changed My Life

As Laurence Kardish, a former curator of the Museum of Modern Arts (MOMA), watched Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali' (Song of the Little Road) around five decades ago, his life changed as he realised people are the same across the world, despite their cultural difference.

Laurence Kardish
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As Laurence Kardish, a former curator of the Museum of Modern Arts (MOMA), watched Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali' (Song of the Little Road) around five decades ago, his life changed as he realised people are the same across the world, despite their cultural difference.

Ray was not only a famed director but was one of the great artists of the world, said Kardish while delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival here on Saturday evening.

"I used to watch films made by independent directors and one of the films which I saw in my hometown in the US was Pather Panchali which changed my life completely, Kardish said while delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial lecture "A Ray on Lens" at the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival here on Saturday evening.

The 78-year-old curator, playwright, and author of widely read 'Real Plastic Magic (1972) said when he was growing up and not enamoured by the typical Hollywood movies "he was certainly influenced" by the maker of Pather Panchali.

The film was "dramatic and having elements of non-drama " and left a profound cultural difference on me. "I could realise whether the shoots took place in Boral in Bengal or elsewhere in the world, people are the same all over the world," Kardish said.

Coming to Ray, Kurdish said in 44 years since he joined the MOMA in 1968 as a "film curator", the Ray retrospective remains one of the important milestones among "1000 film exhibitions covering history, development, culture, moving image at MOMA."

Ray was not only "a celebrated filmmaker but was one of the great artists, in any medium, of the second half of the 20th century," he added.

The 1981 retrospective of the maestro was the "first complete retrospective of Satyajit Ray in 1981 including a number of his films not yet shown in the US" an extraordinary piece of work like 'Kanchenjungha' being part of that package, he recalled, adding the occasion brought so many "memory and connections" with the maestro and his work.

He also traced back to the world premier of The Story of Apu and Durga at MOMA on May 3 1955 which immediately established Ray as one of the major world famed directors.

The film was screened at Cannes International Film Festival the following year and the rest is history.

However, the film had difficulty in getting distributors in New York despite the success in MOMA and Cannes but finally ran for eight weeks in the US.

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