Who are we without the stars of our anecdotes, asks Nisha Susan in her column for Lounge this week, reflecting on the many losses as the coronavirus spreads through cities and towns, homes and housing societies. But as many have realised over and over, it has also been the kindness of strangers that has helped in the past few weeks—trying to arrange doctors’ appointments, beds, food, transport and more for people in towns far away, people they are unlikely to ever meet. Many of these heroes are in the verified lists, curated online by Lounge, of safe food delivery services, pet boarding services and counsellors who give us hope that we will come out of this crisis bruised but stronger and closer.
At a time like this, who better than film-maker and writer Satyajit Ray to remind us of the centrality of compassion and humanity. The legendary director of films such as Charulata, Nayak and the Apu trilogy, Ray would have turned 100 on 2 May, and we have turned this into an issue to mark the milestone. Ray is best known for his films in Bengali, but he was also an accomplished author, designer, composer and critic with deep interests in science, design, illustration and the arts, interests that influenced the way he worked.
It’s not just the volume of his work that is astounding, it’s also the distinctive quality he brought to everything he did. Nothing, or nobody, was too small for Ray’s attention—from the posters he designed to the music he composed to the minor characters in his films, he paid extraordinary attention to detail. In all his work, it’s the simplicity of human emotion that comes through. He chose small canvases but layered them with feeling and colour.
Shabana Azmi, who did just one film with him, and Sharmila Tagore, who did five, remember what it was like to work with him, while directors, writers and designers write about how he inspired them, what endures, and why they love him. And even if you haven’t watched, read, seen and loved Ray’s work, we are giving you 100 reasons to start.
Write to the Lounge editor firstname.lastname@example.org @shalinimb