Saturday, September 18, 2010

Satyajit Ray's original "Sikkim" negative perished

Director Sandip Ray, the son of Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray, is elated over a government decision to lift a ban on his father's documentary 'Sikkim' after four decades, but rues that the original negative has perished.

"I came to know about the decision through a newspaper. I am very happy that after such a long time this will be done. This was almost unknown to people. No one has ever seen the film," Sandip Ray, 56, told IANS on phone from Kolkata.

He, however, regrets that the original "Sikkim" negative perished long back and there are no prints available now in India.

"No one has the print of the film (in India). There is only one print which has been partly restored by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. They have a restoration branch in Los Angeles," said Sandip Ray.

"The original negative is gone. So we don't have the prints of the film yet."

Satyajit Ray made the documentary on Sikkim in 1971. It was commissioned by the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, and his American-born queen Hope Cooke. It was banned soon by the government and remained in the cans after that.

Asked why it was banned, Sandip Ray said: "I think at that time Sikkim was a kingdom; later it became a part of India. So naturally, it shows how it was as a kingdom and it's a part of history. But people remained unaware of that history as it was banned."

Now a decision to lift the ban has been taken, a government source said. The external affairs ministry has recommended it after being consulted by the information and broadcasting ministry. Coming ahead of Satyajit Ray's 90th birth anniversary May 2, 2011, the move has raised hopes that the film can be screened across the country. "If it's shown somewhere next year, we would be really happy," said Sandip Ray.

Satyajit Ray's legacy lives on in his son.

Sandip Ray has written "Aami Aar Feluda", a book on Feluda, the famous Bengali detective created by his father that throws light on the background stories of all Feluda movies and telefilms.

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