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‘Sir, I would like you to make a film in Hindi because I am in the Hindi film industry, or in English, or if not, then in Bengali.’ When Suresh Jindal said these words to Satyajit Ray in 1974, he was a rookie producer with a single film – albeit the sleeper hit of the year, Rajnigandha – to his credit. Ray was an icon, among the greatest film-makers in the world. Yet, Ray responded: ‘Actually … I have been thinking of doing a film in Hindi’ – thus paving the way for a remarkable adventure.
Shatranj Ke Khilari is Satyajit Ray’s only full-length feature film in Hindi/Urdu and his most expensive film. A period piece set in nineteenth-century Lucknow, capital of the state of Awadh, it employed lavish set designs and stars of both Hindi and Hollywood cinema.
In this book, Jindal recollects the mesmerizing story of how Ray came to direct the film despite his unequivocal declaration that he would never write or direct a film that was not in Bengali. Jindal excavates and illuminates not just Ray’s directorial vision but also the depth of his humanity, which those who were close to him had the privilege to experience. Quoting extensively from Ray’s fascinating unpublished letters to Jindal, the book evokes the passion, original historical research and trademark devotion to detail that Ray brought to every aspect of film production, as also the many epiphanies and pitfalls that dog all creative collaborations.
Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the film’s release, My Adventures with Satyajit Ray is a fitting tribute to a bona-fide classic of Indian cinema and its immortal maker.
About the Author
An electronics engineer by training, Suresh Jindal got interested in cinema while studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, US, in the late 1960s. He was among the producers who made possible the dreams of film-makers working outside the mainstream. He has produced films that are considered milestones in Indian arthouse cinema, including Rajnigandha, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Gandhi and Katha. He is a recipient of the Chevalier des Ordre des Arts et des Lettres given by the French government.
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