Sikkim is a small principality in the Himalayas and this documentary, officially commissioned by the ruler, intended to show what life in this country was like. The film has suffered a double censorship: that of the film’s commissioners, who cut out some images that they found disagreeable; and that of the Indian government, when Sikkim was reconnected to India in 1975, which looked askance at these images dedicated to a monarchy. Notably suppressed is the moment when we see the crowd prostrating itself in front of the ruler. –Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center
Satyajit Ray is one of cinema’s truest Renaissance men. In addition to his films, he is a reputed writer of short stories, a music composer (scores for his own films and other film-makers, notably Merchant-Ivory’s Shakespeare Wallah) and a painter and graphic designer of considerable skill. Appropriately enough, Ray derived from a background of great culture, the son of poet Sukumar Ray who died when he was three years old. His interest in fine arts, literature and painting led him to reside at Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan (an intellectual retreat for artists and thinkers) for a significant period of time. Ray’s true love however was the cinema. The cinema of 30s Hollywood, which included Fred Astaire musicals and comedies by Ernst Lubitsch; Russian films he devoured in repeated viewings at the Calcutta Film Society (which he co-founded in 1947) and later the Italian neorealist films which he discovered in London.
At the time of the Second World War, and the final period of… read more