10 Best Satyajit Ray Movies To Watch Right Now

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

Director Satyajit Ray, is a legendary filmmaker of Indian cinema who is considered a godfather and one of the best cinematic minds in world cinema. His cinematic masterpieces have left a permanent mark on the art of storytelling. The pioneer of Neorealist cinema which was adapted in the Indian and usually rural Bengali setting, he is the first person in Indian cinema to specialize in realistic drama and character studies.

His works usually feature complex characters and social commentary alongside poetic cinematography. He also had a keen sense of pacing, knowing when to slow down and when to speed up to keep the viewer engaged. Ray’s movies were hugely influential, not only in his home country but across the world.

Follow us on this cinematic journey which we are about to explore through the lens of Satyajit Ray containing some of the timeless classics that shaped the landscape of Indian cinema to lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered. 

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

Pather Panchali (1955)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.2 / 10

One of the most iconic masterpieces of Ray’s filmography, Pather Panchali was the debut movie of his directional venture. Based on the book written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, the movie explores the rural touch of Bengal with social challenges like poverty, unrealized dreams, and loss. It took Satyajit Ray around three years to complete his debut film.

Pather Panchali is the first entry in the Apu Trilogy, looking at the character as a young boy. The narrative revolves around the Roy family Harihar, his wife Sarbajaya, and their children Apu and Durga. When their financial situation worsens, Harihar heads to the city in search of work, while Durga falls gravely ill after the monsoons. The movie showcases the hunt of childhood and how beautifully Ray has used his lens to capture the shot. 

Although it was his directional debut, but it seems like a veteran is behind the camera. Pather Panchali has amazing storytelling and realism in it which makes its ever-lasting impact not only in Indian cinema but world cinema also.  

Aparajito (1956)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.2 / 10

A critically acclaimed coming-of-age melodrama movie which is the second part of the Apu Trilogy, focusing on the titular character (Apu) as he transitions from adolescence to adulthood. The movie is an adaptation of the book written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay. It showcases Ray’s ability to translate a rich narrative onto a cinematic masterpiece on the bigger screen.

The narrative continues showcasing the life and struggle of Roy’s family after the death of his father (Harihar). Apu leaves his mother and goes to Kolkata to complete his education. His mother falls sick but she does not let the news reach him as it would affect his studies. The movie just examines family ties and the clash between tradition and modernity.

Satyajit Ray employed a neorealist approach, capturing the daily lives of ordinary people with authenticity. The movie cinematography handled by Subrata Mitra, is something amazing which just added chreey on top. The emotional story complied with memorable, poetic images and the use of the most innovative approach like bounce lighting is just cinematic brilliance and just natural in style. 

The World of Apu (1959)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.5 / 10

The utter brilliance from Satyajit Ray’s filmography The World of Apu is the concluding chapter of the Apu Trilogy. This psychological thriller drama movie is based on a novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay. The movie beautifully concludes the narrative arc of the titular character (Apu) life, providing a satisfying ending to this amazing trilogy. 

The story revolves around Apu, now a struggling writer in Kolkata who meets and marries Aparna. They quickly fall in love and Apu finds peace in her company. However, his world is shattered when Aparna dies during childbirth, and he feels disconnected from the baby. He leaves the child with Aparna’s parents and runs off, traveling India and working odd jobs. The crux of the story is whether Apu will remain a wanderer or if he will return home to his son.

It’s amazing to witness the beauty of Ray’s direction and how meticulously he developed his character Apu from a poor childhood to a struggling student to a mature individual. The movie is generally considered to be the most accomplished of the trilogy and one of the greatest films of all time. With the cinematographic brilliance from Subrata Mitra, the amazing music from Ravi Shankar, and lastly wonderfully complex performance from Soumitra Chatterjee the result is vivid and out of time.

Sonar Kella ( 1974)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.3 / 10

This thriller adventure movie is just another fine piece of art from master mine Satyajit Ray. One of the most plot-based movies in Ray’s filmography, it is based on his own novella and is the first movie in the Feluda series. The movie is filled with breezy humor which follows the adventures of the detective Feluda.

Sonar Kella (which means “The Golden Fortress”) is a mystery adventure about Mukul, a young boy who claims to remember his past life in a golden fortress containing precious jewels. Dr. Hemanga Hajra, a parapsychologist, becomes intrigued by Mukul’s case and decides to investigate. They head to the deserts of Rajasthan, which is famous for its old ruins, hoping to find the fortress. However, crooks want to claim the jewels for themselves and set their sights on the boy. They attempt to kidnap Mukul but end up nabbing the wrong kid. Fearing for his son’s safety, Mukul’s father hires private investigator Feluda to keep Mukul safe.

The movie marks the entry of this versatile filmmaker into the detective genre. Ray’s directional skill can be seen in the storyline and visual department. The way he justifies the beautiful landscape of Rajasthan just enhances the never-ending cinematic experience. The charismatic performance from Soumitra Chatterjee showcases his range as an actor is just amazing.

Nayak: The Hero (1966)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.3 / 10

This thriller mystery movie is often hailed as one of Ray’s masterpieces which explores the complexity of humans and their dilemmas. We can see Satyajit Ray becoming inspired by some of cinema’s most iconic directors like Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and Alfred Hitchcock in Nayak. Despite being set in the world of Bengal, this movie has successfully explored the universal themes of self-discovery and the consequences of fame.

The narrative revolves around Arindam Mukherjee, a famous film actor traveling by train from Kolkata to Delhi to receive an award. On the journey, he crosses paths with Aditi, a young journalist who is hostile to Mukherjee but hopes to interview him for her magazine. He opens up to her reflecting on his life, especially his insecurities and feelings of guilt. We learn about his story through flashbacks and dreams.

Nayak concludes with a rich thematic statement on life, fame, and responsibility. We can witness one of the best endings in Indian cinema with a multi-layered protagonist and one of the most stylistic layering in this movie. 

The brilliant performance by Uttam Kumar helped Ray to develop Mukherjee as a complex figure. You can find Mukherjee hiding behind layers of performance and illusion, but the story slowly peels everything back to explain how he became who he is. This is where Satyajit Ray’s skill signs up and results in the creation of one of the most story-driven movies in the Indian cinema.

Jana Aranya (1975)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.4 / 10

This social drama movie is considered another masterpiece from the treasure bag of Satyajit Ray’s filmography. Jana Aranya also known as The Middleman was based on the novel written by Mani Shankar Mukherjee. The movie is considered a cinematic gem in Indian cinema because of its ability to address societal issues with a keen eye and subtle storytelling.

The story narrates around a young graduate struggling to find employment. Under the weight of familial responsibilities, he reluctantly enters the world of corruption and deceit to secure a job. He engages in some unethical activities to get by, but these chafe against the moral upbringing he received from his parents.

Jana Aranya is probably Ray’s bleakest movie, from the morally gray protagonist to the grim black-and-white cinematography of the city, highlighting its worst aspects. It offers no consolation or easy answers which depends on your point of view it might either be its downfall or its biggest strength. 

No doubt the movie has some weaknesses one being its dark theme but the way it presents a powerful social commentary and realistic portrait of characters is somewhat brilliant which results in making it a perfect cinematic excellence. 

Mahanagar (1963)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb:- 8.3 / 10 

Satyajit Ray once again gave an ever-green realistic story that will always last as strong as it was on the first day of release.  Mahanagar also known as The Big City is a comedy-drama movie which was set in Kolkota. The movie successfully talks about the challenges and societal norms a woman has to face when she enters the workforce and challenges the traditional gender roles.

The story plot revolves around the Mazumdar household family. Times are tough, so they decide that Arati must get a job, and she begins working as a door-to-door saleswoman. At first, she’s nervous, but her work soon brings her into contact with people from all walks of life. She enjoys it, and her confidence and independence grow. However, the conservative cultural norms frown upon a working housewife.

Ray has this amazing ability to understand a particular scene and always be successful in achieving par excellence. He has this multilayering system in his film and characters, making it more admiring for every viewer. This movie does not just answer how human lives and their problems are connected to a big city. But, it also shows us so many different views of different people of different mindsets and how they had that mindset.

Charulata (1964)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.1 / 10

The master of expressing the hard things in a much simpler way, Satyajit Ray adds another treasure to his bag. Charulata is a Romantic Drama movie set in 19th-century Bengal. The movie is based on the novella Nastanirh (The Broken Nest) written by Rabindranath Tagore. This masterpiece is often praised by both critics and audiences for its amazing visual and powerful individual performance.

The story revolves around Charulata, an intelligent and introspective woman who feels trapped in her marriage and domestic routines. Her husband Bhupati, is engrossed in his newspaper business leaving Charulata with ample time but little emotional fulfillment. The narrative takes a turn when Bhupati’s cousin, Amal visits their home. Charulata and Amal share a deep intellectual and emotional connection that threatens to turn her world upside down.

The opening and closing scenes are particularly highly regarded, with the latter often ranked among the best uses of a freeze-frame in cinema history. The opening of the movie, the camera movements, no dialogue, the movement of the actress, and her expression all factors help to portray the finest piece of romantic drama.

Pratidwandi (1970)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMD: – 8.1 / 10

This romantic drama is the first part of Ray’s Calcutta Trilogy. The movie is set in Kolkata during the late 60s and it is based on the novel written by Suni Gangopadhyay. The movie perfectly showcases the sociopolitical turbulence and the mindset of a young and educated man.

The narrative revolves around Siddhartha, a recent graduate struggling to find employment in a city marred by high unemployment and political unrest. He’s torn between his ambitious, career-oriented sister and his revolutionary brother who wants to remake the system. The stress of his situation gets too much for him, and Siddartha begins to hallucinate. Pratidwandi is less of a character study than a social study, looking at the unstable political climate of the time.

Critically acclaimed movie for its thought-provoking narrative and compelling performances, it won the National Film Awards for Best Director. This movie has inspired not only the Indian cinematic universe but world cinema.

Aranyer Din Ratri (1970)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.1 / 10

The best adventure drama movie made in the Indian cinematic universe, Aranyer Din Ratri also known as Days and Nights in the Forest is Satyajit Ray’s gift to all young people who are seeking adventure in life. The movie is a part of the Calcutta Trilogy and is also based on the novel of the same name by Sunil Gangopadhyay.

The narrative revolves around four urban friends who decide to escape the confines of city life and vacation in the forests of Palamau. But as they immerse themselves in the wilderness, the dynamics among the friends begin to unravel. Each character represents a different facet of the urban middle class.

The movie is often considered to be before time because of its unique theme and innovative storytelling. The cinematic excellent and on top pure visual display plays an important role in increasing its standard. Through cinematographer Soumendu Roy’s camera, the authentic and natural look of the forests of Palamau was gained to portray it on a bigger screen. 

Agantuk (1991)

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8 / 10

If you are an admirer and follower of this mastermind and cinematic wizard Satyajit Ray then I strongly recommend you to watch this movie. This comedy-drama movie is well known to explore profound philosophical themes. The last movie from legendary filmmaker Ray, Agantuk also known as The Stranger is one of his best creations. 

The narrative revolves around a young lady Anila Bose and her family who receive a visit from Manmohan, a man claiming to be her long-lost uncle. However, as time passes, they begin to question Manmohan’s intentions. The central conflict of the film rests upon the identity of the man and the family’s struggle to determine it. The whole movie is a cat-and-mouse chase between Anila and her family to find the real identity of Manmohan Mitra. 

Agantuk has a perfect mixture of psychological depth with cinematic brilliance and a well-crafted character. This movie has a special place in all of Satyajit’s followers because it is a swan song of a master. A perfect piece to end his legendary career. 

Heerak Rajar Deshe (1980) 

Best Satyajit Ray Movies

IMDb: – 8.8 / 10 

Heerak Rajar Deshe is a fantasy comedy movie set in a fictional kingdom that explores socio-political issues through its amazing storyline. The movie is a sequel to Ray’s earlier film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. it is considered one of the cinematic gems due to its perfect blend of fantasy and reality with pitch-perfect storytelling and social commentary.

The narrative revolves around a musical duo Goopy and Bagha. When they learn about Hirak Raja’s tyranny, they try to set him right with the help of Udayan, a schoolteacher, and their magical powers. Heerak Rajar Deshe perfectly showcases how power when abused can oppress the defenseless and innocent. The demolition of the statue is symbolic of the triumph of the human spirit and the power of a collective will against totalitarianism.

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