Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese was honoured with the first ever Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement award at the opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Hungarian filmmaker Istevan Szabo was also conferred the same honour. Though the two directors did not attending the festival, their pre-recorded messages were played at the opening ceremony.
Scorsese’s monologue was a tribute to the greatness of Ray and how the auteur had influenced and inspired him. He said, “I cannot tell you how proud I am to be receiving an award named after Satyajit Ray. Ray is one of my masters, he is one of the filmmakers whose work I have returned to over the years in my life. My love for his work began when I saw Pather Panchali, it was a revelatory experience for someone growing up in the West. This was opening a whole new world to me…”
“His use of music was one of the most influential for me in my films. I actually found a record of improvisations of Pather Panchali by Ravi Shankar and took it to my parents at home in New York. They were working class people who had never heard this kind of music before. They really enjoyed it,” he added.
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The Hollywood legend continued, “I keep his films with me all the time, and when I need to focus I go back to them. I have all of them, some I haven’t even seen yet, there are so many…. One of the most impactful films I showed my daughter Francesca when she was 12 or 13 was Pather Panchali, and I know it changed the way she perceives the world and different cultures. She is 22 now… So I thank you, Satyajit Ray and the Indian film industry. I was only there in 1996, I would love to go back.”