Satyajit Ray was a brilliant filmmaker who transformed the face of Indian cinema with his films. However, not many are familiar with Ray's work as a graphic designer and artist. He created the posters for many of his films, capturing the central ideas into one image. You will come across these on the web, but a better, more personal, way to discover these would be via a walk on the street where he lived.
Bishop Lefroy Road in South Kolkata is famous by association. Ray stayed here for 22 years. In 2016, the street underwent a makeover of sorts. The Ray house was declared a grade-1 heritage building by Kolkata's civic body. And the sodium vapour lights on the street were installed with Victorian-era street lightis on which you can see replicas of the posters of celebrated films designed by Ray himself. This stretch is now an open-air gallery of his work.
Check out the iconic poster of the film Devi which showcases an important scene in the film about religious superstition, when an elderly man dreams his daughter-in-law is the embodiment of goddess Kali. The divided face of Sharmila Tagore represents this split identity.
The poster for the film Ganashatru, with fingers pointing at the protagonist in a circle, symbolises the accusatory crowds of people and big business who declared the doctor a heretic for saying that the so-called holy water of the temple was polluting and killing local people.
Ray had no formal training in filmmaking. He dropped out of the fine arts course at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan and joined a British advertising agency as a junior visualiser. Later, he also did book and magazine design while working with ad agencies and publishers (such as Signet Press). You can see the graphic design influence in these posters. Check out the interesting fonts. Ray created his own typefaces for Bangla and English (Ray Bizarre, Ray Roman were two).
Now thanks to this city project, you can view his work in a setting that was close to him.