Satyajit Ray (Bengali: সত্যজিত রায় Shottojit Rae (May 2, 1921–April 23, 1992) was an Indian filmmaker. Born in the city of Kolkata (then Calcutta) into a Bengali family prominent in the world of arts and letters, Ray studied at Presidency College and at the Visva-Bharati University, at the poet Rabindranath Tagore's Santiniketan. Starting his career as a commercial artist, Ray was drawn into filmmaking after meeting French filmmaker Jean Renoir and viewing the Italian neorealist film Bicycle Thieves during a visit to London.
Ray directed thirty-seven films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts. Ray's first film, Pather Panchali, won eleven international prizes, including Best Human Document at Cannes. Along with Aparajito and Apur Sansar, the film forms the Apu trilogy. Ray worked on an array of tasks, including scripting, casting, scoring, cinematography, art direction, editing and designing his own credit titles and publicity material. Apart from making films, he was a fiction writer, publisher, illustrator, graphic designer and film critic. Ray received many major awards in his career, including an Academy Honorary Award in 1992.
Satyajit Ray is a cultural icon in India and in Bengali communities worldwide. Following his death, the city of Kolkata came to a virtual standstill, as hundreds of thousands of people gathered around his house to pay him their last respects. Satyajit Ray's influence has been widespread and deep in Bengali cinema, a number of Bengali directors including Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, Gautam Ghose, Tareq Masud and Tanvir Mokammel in Bangladesh have been influenced by his film craft. Across the spectrum, filmmakers such as Budhdhadeb Dasgupta, Mrinal Sen and Adoor Gopalakrishnan have acknowledged his seminal contribution to Indian cinema. Beyond India, filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Abbas Kiarostami and Elia Kazan have reportedly been influenced by his cinematic style. Ira Sachs's 2005 work Forty Shades of Blue was a loose remake of Charulata, and in the 1995 film My Family, the final scene is duplicated from the final scene of Apur Sansar. Similar references to Ray films are found, for example, in recent works such as Sacred Evil, the Elements trilogy of Deepa Mehta and even in films of Jean-Luc Godard.
The character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the American animated television series The Simpsons was named in homage to Ray. Ray along with Madhabi Mukherjee, was the first Indian film personality to feature in a foreign stamp (Dominica). Many literary works include references to Ray or his work, including Saul Bellow's Herzog and J. M. Coetzee's Youth. Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories contains fish characters named Goopy and Bagha, a tribute to Ray's fantasy film. In 1993, UC Santa Cruz established the Satyajit Ray Film and Study collection, and in 1995, the Government of India set up Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute for studies related to film. In 2007, British Broadcasting Corporation declared that two Feluda stories would be made into radio programs. During the London film festival, a regular "Satyajit Ray Award" is given to first-time feature director whose film best captures "the artistry, compassion and humanity of Ray's vision".
Numerous awards were bestowed on Ray throughout his lifetime. When Ray was awarded honorary doctorates by Oxford University, he was the second film personality to be so honored after Chaplin. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France in 1987 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1985. The Government of India awarded him the highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna shortly before his death. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray an honorary Oscar in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement. In 1992 he was posthumously awarded the Akira Kurosawa Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing at the San Francisco International Film Festival; it was accepted on his behalf by actress Sharmila Tagore.