Satyajit Ray, the legendary Indian filmmaker, is known for his filmmaking brilliance along with subtle art of symbolism and cinematic language portrayed in his films.
He made many films planned for children which are equally brilliant in terms of the films’ thought-provoking elements. The films are aptly made funny with easy-to-understand linear story, but they contain deep politically relevant messages.
Here are some children’s films by Ray that are actually suitable for all ages.
Ray's short film, an allegory of the US-Vietnam war, portrays two youngsters displaying each other their toys. It not only discusses escalating tensions and the infantile desire to outdo one another, but it also demonstrates how deeply ingrained violence is in our DNA.
It is so intimately intertwined into human nature that it may even be seen in children's playfulness. It's impressive that he was able to produce such tremendous impact in such a short film.
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (1969)
Two men, who have been exiled from their homeland due to their truly awful musical abilities, meet the King of Ghosts.
The King of Ghosts, enthralled by their song, bestows upon them three superpowers. Even though it appears infantile and humorous, Goopy and Bagha come from a very impoverished background, and what they portray throughout the film is a perpetual state of class instability.
All three of their superpowers — delicious cuisine, the ability to attract an audience and travel — are upper-class perks.
The ghost dance sequence, which is a marvel in and of itself, shot with great camera work in the absence of VFX and on a minimal budget, is by far the most brilliant work ever done in a fanciful an supernatural setting.
Kingdom of Diamonds (1980)
The two musicians return in the second part of the Goopy- Bagha series to fight a fascist ruler and his brutal subordinates, and their resistance is built out of flames and songs.
This film contains numerous metaphors for the current political situation. It uses strong metaphors to portray structural violence and political rebellion, capitalism, labour oppression, brainwashing, and prohibitions on questioning and learning, etc.
This film, which is still a powerful component of anti-fascism campaigns, has enlightened generations of Bengali youth to worship the teacher rather than the ruler.
Pather Panchali ((1955)
In its essence, Pather Panchali is a child's view of a rapidly changing society. Little Apu's miniature train collides with the real locomotive that speeds through his village. His youth is marked by the death of Durga, a young girl who was not too far off from him in age.
Little Durga's naivety dissolves into her coming of age, her playful, immature being battling the socio-cultural expectations placed on women. In a nutshell, this film depicts a child's inner encounter with the world.
The Golden Fortress (1974)
In the Golden Fortress, the detective Prodosh C. Mitter is assigned the task of protecting a child who, by all indications, has memories of a previous life.
Thrown into the string by a child who occasionally speaks of his present life and other times of his past, a parapsychologist and different forces attempting to exploit the child, the detective strives to piece together the details of this puzzle into coherence.
It raises the question of whether memories can ever be trusted as actual clues, and whether children's innocence can be misinterpreted as a lack of knowledge. The portrayal of the forgotten and the memorised, coupled with trespassers and fortresses, all combine to make for a really satisfying viewing experience.
One can watch these films for addressing serious social issues or remarkable storytelling. But either way, Ray’s magical universe will enable anyone to view the world around in a new light.
Shadya Naher Sheyam is a student of International Relations at Bangladesh University of Professionals.