R.K. Narayan

Born: October 10, 1906
Died: May 13, 2001

Achievement: Felicitated with Sahitya Akademi Award and Padma Bhushan.

R.K. Narayan is one of the most famous and widely read Indian novelists. His stories were grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life. R.K. Narayan was born on October 10, 1906 in Madras. His father was a provincial head master. R.K. Narayan spent his early childhood his maternal grandmother, Parvathi in Madras and used to spend only a few weeks each summer visiting his parents and siblings. R.K. Narayan studied for eight years at Lutheran Mission School close to his grandmother's house in Madras, also for a short time at the CRC High School. When his father was appointed headmaster of the Maharaja's High School in Mysore, R.K. Narayan moved back in with his parents. He obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of Mysore.R.K. Narayan began his writing career with Swami and Friends in 1935. Most of his work including Swami and friends is set in the fictional town of Malgudi which captures everything Indian while having a unique identity of its own. R.K. Narayan's writing style was marked by simplicity and subtle humour. He told stories of ordinary people trying to live their simple lives in a changing world.R.K. Narayan's famous works include The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), Malgudi Days (1982), and The Grandmother's Tale (1993).R.K. Narayan won numerous awards and honors for his works. These include: Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide in 1958; Padma Bhushan in 1964; and AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in 1980; R.K. Narayan was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1982. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989. Besides, he was also conferred honorary doctorates by the University of Mysore, Delhi University and the University of Leeds.


Image result for tagore
Born: May 7, 1861Died: August 7, 1941

Rabindranath Tagore became the first Asian to became Nobel laureate when he won Nobel Prize for his collection of poems, Gitanjali, in 1913; awarded knighthood by the British King George V; established Viswabharati University; two songs from his Rabindrasangit canon are now the national anthems of India and BangladeshRabindranath Tagore was an icon of Indian culture. He was a poet, philosopher, musician, writer, and educationist. Rabindranath Tagore became the first Asian to became Nobel laureate when he won Nobel Prize for his collection of poems, Gitanjali, in 1913. He was popularly called as Gurudev and his songs were popularly known as Rabindrasangeet. Two songs from his Rabindrasangit canon are now the national anthems of India and Bangladesh: the Jana Gana Mana and the Amar Shonar Bangla.Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 in a wealthy Brahmin family in Calcutta. He was the ninth son of Debendranath and Sarada Devi. His grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore was a rich landlord and social reformer. Rabindra Nath Tagore had his initial education in Oriental Seminary School. But he did not like the conventional education and started studying at home under several teachers. After undergoing his upanayan (coming-of-age) rite at the age of eleven, Tagore and his father left Calcutta in 1873 to tour India for several months, visiting his father's Santiniketan estate and Amritsar before reaching the Himalayan hill station of Dalhousie. There, Tagore read biographies, studied history, astronomy, modern science, and Sanskrit, and examined the classical poetry of Kalidasa.In 1874, Tagore's poem Abhilaash (Desire) was published anonymously in a magazine called Tattobodhini. Tagore's mother Sarada Devi expired in 1875. Rabindranath's first book of poems, Kabi Kahini ( tale of a poet ) was published in 1878. In the same year Tagore sailed to England with his elder brother Satyandranath to study law. But he returned to India in 1880 and started his career as poet and writer. In 1883, Rabindranath Tagore married Mrinalini Devi Raichaudhuri, with whom he had two sons and three daughters.In 1884, Tagore wrote a collection of poems Kori-o-Kamal (Sharp and Flats). He also wrote dramas - Raja-o-Rani ( King and Queen) and Visarjan (Sacrifice). In 1890, Rabindranath Tagore moved to Shilaidaha (now in Bangladesh) to look after the family estate. Between 1893 and 1900 Tagore wrote seven volumes of poetry, which included Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat) and Khanika. In 1901, Rabindranath Tagore became the editor of the magazine Bangadarshan. He Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school based on the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. In 1902, his wife Mrinalini died. Tagore composed Smaran ( In Memoriam ), a collection of poems, dedicated to his wife.In 1905, Lord Curzon decided to divide Bengal into two parts. Rabindranath Tagore strongly protested against this decision. Tagore wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity of undivided Bengal.In 1909, Rabindranath Tagore started writing Gitanjali. In 1912, Tagore went to Europe for the second time. On the journey to London he translated some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali to English. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. Yeats was enthralled. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 in a limited edition by the India Society in London. Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. In 1919, following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore renounced his knighthood. He was a supporter of Gandhiji but he stayed out of politics. He was opposed to nationalism and militarism as a matter of principle, and instead promoted spiritual values and the creation of a new world culture founded in multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance. Unable to gain ideological support to his views, he retired into relative solitude. Between the years 1916 and 1934 he traveled widely.1n 1921, Rabindranath Tagore established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. Tagore was not only a creative genius, he was quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and science too. Tagore had a good grasp of modern - post-Newtonian - physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos. His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G. Wells, epitomize his brilliance.In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan and awarded Rabindranath Tagore with Doctorate Of Literature. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore passed away on August 7, 1941 in his ancestral home in Calcutta.

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Premchand Biography

Born: July 31, 1880

Died: October 8, 1936.


Premchand brought realism to Hindi literature. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day-communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism etc. He avoided the use of highly Sanskritized Hindi and instead used the dialect of the common people.Premchand popularly known as Munshi Premchand was one of the greatest literary figures of modern Hindi literature. His stories vividly portrayed the social scenario of those times.Premchand's real name was Dhanpat Rai Srivastava. He was born on July 31, 1880 in Lamahi near Varanasi where his father Munshi Azaayab Lal was a clerk in the post office. Premchand lost his mother when he was just seven years old. His father married again. Premchand was very close to his elder sister. His early education was in a madarasa under a Maulavi, where he learnt Urdu. When he was studying in the ninth class he was married, much against his wishes. He was only fifteen years old at that time.Premchand lost his father when he was sixteen years old. Premchand was left responsible for his stepmother and stepsiblings. He earned five rupees a month tutoring a lawyer's child. Premchand passed his matriculation exam with great effort and took up a teaching position, with a monthly salary of eighteen rupees. While working, he studied privately and passed his Intermediate and B. A. examinations. Later, Premchand worked as the deputy sub-inspector of schools in what was then the United Provinces.In 1910, he was hauled up by the District Magistrate in Jamirpur for his anthology of short stories Soz-e-Watan (Dirge of the Nation), which was labelled seditious. His book Soz-e-Watan was banned by the then British government, which burnt all of the copies. Initially Premchand wrote in Urdu under the name of Nawabrai. However, when his novel Soz-e-Watan was confiscated by the British, he started writing under the pseudonym Premchand.Before Premchand, Hindi literature consisted mainly of fantasy or religious works. Premchand brought realism to Hindi literature. He wrote over 300 stories, a dozen novels and two plays. The stories have been compiled and published as Maansarovar. His famous creations are: Panch Parameshvar, Idgah, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Poos Ki Raat, Bade Ghar Ki Beti, Kafan, Udhar Ki Ghadi, Namak Ka Daroga, Gaban, Godaan, and Nirmala.Premchand was a great social reformer; he married a child widow named Shivarani Devi. She wrote a book on him, Premchand Gharmein after his death. In 1921 he answered Gandhiji's call and resigned from his job. He worked to generate patriotism and nationalistic sentiments in the general populace. When the editor of the journal _Maryaada_ was jailed in the freedom movement, Premchand worked for a time as the editor of that journal. Afterward, he worked as the principal in a school in the Kashi Vidyapeeth.The main characteristic of Premchand's writings is his interesting storytelling and use of simple language. His novels describe the problems of rural and urban India. He avoided the use of highly Sanskritized Hindi and instead used the dialect of the common people. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day -communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism etc.Premchand's writings have been translated not only into all Indian languages, but also Russian, Chinese, and many other foreign languages. He died on October 8, 1936.

Writing style

The main characteristic of Premchand's writings is his interesting story-telling and use of simple language. His novels describe the problems of the rural peasant classes. He avoided the use of highly Sanskritized Hindi (as was the common practice among Hindi writers), but rather he used the dialect of the common people.

Premchand called literature a work that expresses the truths and experiences of life impressively. Presiding over the Progressive Writers' Conference in Lucknow in 1936, he said that attaching the word "Progressive" to writer was redundant, because "A writer or an artist is progressive by nature, if this was not his/her nature, he/she would not be a writer at all."

Before Premchand, Hindi literature was confined to the raja-rani (king and queen) tales, the stories of magical powers and other such escapist fantasies. It was flying in the sky of fantasy, until Premchand brought it on the grounds of reality. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day - communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism etc.

Some criticize Premchand's writings as full of too many deaths and too much of misery. They believe Premchand does not stand anywhere near contemporary literary giants of India - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore. But it should be noted, that many of Premchand's stories were influenced by his own experiences with poverty and misery. His stories represented the ordinary Indian people as they were, without any embellishments. Unlike many other contemporary writers, his works didn't have any "hero" or "Mr. Nice" - they described people as they were.

Premchand was a contemporary of some other literary giants of that era like Acharya Ram Chandra Shukla and Jaishankar Prasad.

Literary works (see complete list of his works on http://premchandstories123.blogspot.com/)

Premchand has written about 300 short stories, several novels as well as many essays and letters. He has also written some plays. He also did some translations. Many of Premchand's stories have been translated into English and Russian.

Godaan (The Gift of a Cow), his last novel completed by self, is considered the finest Hindi novel of all times,he started narrating mangalsutra which remain uncomplete since he passes away,the novel later on was completed by his son,Amrit rai. Goodan is about the protagonist, Hori, a poor peasant, desperately longs for a cow, a symbol of wealth and prestige in rural India. Hori gets a cow but pays with his life for it. After his death, the village priests demand a cow from his widow to bring his soul to peace.

In Kafan (Shroud), a poor man collects money for the funeral rites of his dead wife, but spends it on food and drink.

Famous stories

Panch Parameshvar (पंच परमेश्वर پںچ پرمیشور)
Idgah (ईदगाह اِیدگاہ)
Nashaa (नशा نشا)
Shatranj ke khiladi (शतरंज के ख़िलाडी شترںج کے خِلاڈی) (The chess players)
Poos ki raat (पूस की रात پُوس کی رات)
Atmaram (आत्माराम آتمارام)
Boodhi Kaki (बूढी काकी بُوڈھی کاکی) (The Old Aunt)
Bade Bhaisahab (बडे भाईसाब بڈے بھائیساب) (The big brother)
Bade ghar ki beti (बडे घर की बेटी بڈے گھر کی بیٹی) (The girl of an affluent family)
Kafan (कफ़न کفن) (Shroud)
Dikri Ke Rupai (दिक्रि के रुपै دِکرِ کے رُپے)
Udhar Ki Ghadi (उधार की घडी اُدھار کی گھڈی)
Namak Ka Daroga (नमक का दरोगा نمک کا دروگا)


Gaban (गबन)
Godaan (गोदान)
Karmabhoomi (कर्मभूमी)
Kaayakalp (कायाकल्प)
Manorma (मनोरमा)
Mangalsootra (मंगलसूत्र), incomplete
Nirmala (निर्मला)
Pratigya (प्रतिज्ञा)
Premashram (प्रेमाश्रम)
Rangbhoomi (रंगभूमी)
Vardaan (वरदान)

Films based on Premchand's work
Satyajit Ray filmed two of Premchand's works — Sadgati and Shatranj Ke Khiladi. Sadgati (Salvation) is a short story revolving around poor Dukhi, who gets exhausted to death while hewing wood for a paltry favor. Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) revolved around the decadence of nawabi Lucknow, where the obsession with a game consumes the players, making them oblivious of their responsibilities in the midst of a crisis.

Sevasadan (first published in 1918) was made into a film with M.S. Subbulakshmi in the lead role. The novel is set in Varanasi, the holy city of Hindus. Sevasadan ("House of Service") is an institute built for the daughters of courtesans. The lead of the novel is a beautiful, intelligent and talented girl called Suman. She belongs to high caste. She is married to a much older, tyrannical man. She realizes that marriage is just like prostitution except that there is only one client. Bholi, a courtesan, lives opposite Suman. Suman realizes that Bholi is "outside purdah", while she is "inside it". Suman leaves her husband and becomes a successful entertainer of gentlemen. But after a brief period of success, she ends up as a victim of a political drama played out by self-righteous Hindu social reformers and moralists.

He also worked with the film director Himanshu Rai of Bombay Talkies, one of the founders of Bollywood.

Films and TV serials
Sadgati (1981) (TV)
Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977)
Godhuli (1977)
Oka Oori Katha (1977)
Gaban (1966)
Godaan (1963)
Seva Sadan (1938) (based on the novel Bazaar-e-Husn)
Mazdoor (1934)
Nirmala (TV Series, 1980s)


A.R rahman

Birth Name:A.S. Dileep Kumar
Nickname:The Mozart of Madras Isai Puyal
Mini Biography
Allah Rakha Rahman was born A.S. Dileep Kumar on January 6, 1966, in Madras (now Chennai), India, to a musically affluent family. Dileep started learning the piano at the age of 4, and at the age of 9, his father passed away. Since the pressure of supporting his family fell on him, he joined ILAYARJA'S troupe as a keyboard player at the age of 11. He dropped out of school as a result of this and traveled all around the world with various orchestras.He accompanied the great tabla maestro ZAKIR HUSSAIN on a few world tours and also won a scholarship at the Trinity College of Music at Oxford University, where he studied Western classical music and obtained a degree in music. Due to some personal crisis, Dileep Kumar embraced Islam and came to be known as A.R. Rahman. In 1987, he moved to advertising, where he composed more than 300 jingles over 5 years. In 1989, he started a small studio called Panchathan Record Inn, which later developed into one of the most well-equipped and advanced sound recording studios in India.At an advertising awards function, Rahman met one of India's most famous directors, Mani Ratnam. Rahman played him a few of his music samples. Mani loved them so much that he asked Rahman to compose the music for his next film, Roja (1992). The rest, as they say, is history. He went on to compose several great hits for Tamil-language films before composing the score and songs for his first Hindi-language film, Rangeela (1995). The enormous success of his first Hindi venture was followed by the chart-topping soundtrack albums of films such as Albeli Mumbai(1931) , Dil se..(1998), Taal(1999), Zubeidaa (2001), and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India(2001), which was nominated for best foreign-language film at the 2002 Academy Awards.More recently, he worked with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shekhar Kapur(director of Elizabeth (1998)) on a musical called "Bombay Dreams." At 36 years old, A.R. Rahman has revolutionized Indian film music and one can only expect this musical genius to reach greater heights.

Trade Mark
His music always has a Southern Indian influence.

Studied Western classical music as a student at Oxford University in the UK.
He was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award (The Hilton Award) for Best New Musical of 2002, "Bombay Dreams," performed at the Apollo Theatre, West End, London, and on Broadway in New York City.
On August 15, 1997, he released an album called "Vande Mataram," on Columbia/SME Records, to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence. A tribute to the motherland, it featured songs for each of the Indian flag colors. The album was released simultaneously across the world in 28 countries, and Rahman himself performed in New Delhi to a packed audience including the honorable Indian Prime Minister. Over 1.2 million copies were sold in India alone.
Also known as the John Williams of the Indian Film Industry.
Personal Quotes
"I have rubbed many a producer the wrong way by disturbing the schedule, but it has paid off."
"I wasn't too happy with the I-don't-want-to-listen-to-it attitude of our youngsters towards film music. Why can't we get our guys to listen to our own music rather than to Michael Jackson? I didn't want us to lose the market to the West. The music had to be cool and rooted, and yet had to branch out. It was like the wild imagination of a child... but it worked... it did travel beyond Madras and attract people."
About his belief in Sufism: "I'm a deeply spiritual person. Sufism is about love - love for a fellow human, love for all round humanity, and ultimately love for God. For me, it's where music and religion meet - at dargahs, you will find qawwalis. That's my inspiration."
About his song Vande Mataram: "It had to be unlike the one played on the radio for years. I wanted a sound that would connect me with people and capture a collective energy."
Where Are They Now
(March 2004) The Broadway debut of Bombay Dreams will take place on March 28, 2004 at the Broadway Theatre in New York City.

Rahman is the 1995 recipient of the Mauritius National Award and the Malaysian Award for contributions to music. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for his first West-End production. A four time National Film Award winner and conferred the Padma Shri from the Government of India, Rahman has received six awards for Best Music at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and eleven awards for his scores at the Filmfare and Filmfare Awards South each. In 2006, he received an honorary award from Stanford University for contributions to global music. A 2008 Critics Choice Awards winner for Best Composer, Rahman became the first Indian national to win a Golden Globe, winning for Slumdog Millionaire in the category of Best Original Score. Rahman received three Academy Award nominations in 2009—Best Original Score and two different Best Original Songs for the same movie.
as Music Director

Tamil Winner, National Film Award
Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Yodha Malayalam
Pudhiya Mugam Tamil
Gentleman Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Kizhakku Cheemayile Tamil
Uzhavan Tamil
Thiruda Thiruda Tamil
Vandicholai Chinnaraasu Tamil
Super Police Telugu
Duet Tamil
May Madham Tamil
Kadhalan Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Pavithra Tamil
Karuththamma Tamil
Pudhiya Mannargal Tamil
Manitha Manitha Tamil
Gangmaster Telugu
Bombay Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Indira Tamil
Rangeela Hindi
Muthu Tamil
Love Birds Tamil
Indian Tamil
Kadhal Desam Tamil
Fire Hindi
Mr. Romeo Tamil
Anthimanthaarai Tamil
Minsaara Kanavu Tamil Winner, National Film Award
Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Iruvar Tamil
Daud: Fun On The Run Hindi
Ratchagan Tamil
Mona Lisa Tamil
Vishwavidhaata Hindi
Kabhi Na Kabhi Hindi
Jeans Tamil
Dil Se… Hindi
Earth Hindi
Doli Saja Ke Rakhna Hindi
En Swasa Kaatre Tamil
Padayappa Tamil
Kadhalar Dhinam Tamil
Taal Hindi
Sangamam Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award
Jodi Tamil
Takshak Hindi
Mudhalvan Tamil
Taj Mahal Tamil
Pukar Hindi
Alaipayuthey Tamil
Kandukondain Kandukondain Tamil
Fiza Hindi 1 song
Rhythm Tamil
Thenali Tamil
Zubeidaa Hindi
One 2 Ka 4 Hindi
Nayak: The Real Hero Hindi
Love You Hamesha Hindi
Lagaan Hindi Winner, National Film Award
Star Tamil
Parthale Paravasam Tamil
Alli Arjuna Tamil
Kannathil Muthamittal Tamil Winner, National Film Award
The Legend of Bhagat Singh Hindi
Baba Tamil
Kadhal Virus Tamil
Saathiya Hindi
Parasuram Tamil
Boys Tamil
Warriors of Heaven and Earth Mandarin / Japanese
Enakku 20 Unakku 18 Tamil
Kangalal Kaithu Sei Tamil
Tehzeeb Hindi
Udhaya Tamil
Warriors of Heaven and Earth English
Lakeer - Forbidden Lines Hindi
Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities Hindi
Aayitha Ezhuthu Tamil
Yuva Hindi
New Tamil
Naani Telugu
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa Hindi 3 songs
Swades Hindi
Kisna - The Warrior Poet Hindi 1 song
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero Hindi
Mangal Pandey - The Rising Hindi
Anbe Aaruyire Tamil
Water Hindi 5 songs
Rang De Basanti Hindi
Sillunu Oru Kaadhal Tamil
Varalaru Tamil
Guru Hindi
Provoked Hindi
Sajni Kannada
Sivaji: The Boss Tamil
Azhagiya Thamizh Magan Tamil
Elizabeth: The Golden Age English With Craig Armstrong
Jodhaa Akbar Hindi
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na Hindi
ADA: A Way of Life Hindi
Sakkarakatti Tamil
Yuvvraaj Hindi
Ghajini Hindi
Slumdog Millionaire English / Hindi Winner, Golden Globe Award
Nominated, Academy Award for Best Orginal Score
Nominated, Academy Award for Best Original Song O..Saya
Nominated, Academy Award for Best Original Song Jai Ho
Delhi 6 Hindi Filming
Eight by Ten Hindi Filming
Nairsan English / Japanese / Mandarin / Malayalam Filming
Blue Hindi Filming
Puli Telugu Filming
Ashokavanam Tamil Filming
Raavan Hindi Filming
Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikalam Tamil Filming
Sultan The Warrior Tamil Filming
Manavar Dhinam Tamil Filming
The 19th Step English / Tamil / Japanese Filming
Endhiran Tamil Filming


Swedish movie and theatre director, playwright, screenwriter. Although Bergman was widely known as a film director, he also became one of the foreground figures of the modern Swedish theatre. Bergman's artistic career included stage performances, radio productions, feature films, and TV productions. In several books, from The Magic Lantern (1987) to Private Conversations (1996) Bergman explored his childhood, his relationship to his father, and the strained marriage of his parents.
"I want very much to tell, to talk about, the wholeness inside every human being. It's a strange thing that every human being has a sort of dignity or wholeness in him, and out of that develops relationships to other human beings, tensions, misunderstandings, tenderness, coming in contact, touching and being touched, the cutting off of a contact and what happens then." (Bergman in John Simon's book Ingmar Bergman Directs, 1972)
Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala. His father, Erik Bergman, was a Lutheran minister and chaplain to the court of Sweden. Bergman was raised under strict discipline. His mother Karin, née Åkerblom, came from a prosperous family; she was a proud, strong-willed person, and the relationship between his parents became mutually destructive. "Mother, You are my best friend," Bergnan wroto to her years later, as a grown-up man. From his childhood pressures Bergman later drew material for his plays and films. Many of Bergman's works explored the father-god trauma, including the films Through a Glass Darkly (1961) and Winter Light (1963).
At the age of 10 Bergman received a laterna magica as a toy. He made dolls for his puppet theater and saw in 1935 his first theater production, A Dream Play by August Strindberg. Bergman studied literature and art at the University of Stockholm. After graduation, he worked as a trainee-director at a Stockholm theater. During this period he published a few short stories and wrote a number of plays including Kaspers död (1942) and Jack among the Actors (1946). At the age of twenty-six Bergman became the youngest theatre manager in Europe at the Hälsingborg City Theatre in Sweden. He secured his position through a large number of impressive productions, especially classical plays. Bergman was manager of the Helsingborg city theatre (1944-46), director at Gothenburg city theatre (1946-49), at Malmö city theatre (1953-60) and at the Dramaten in Stockholm (1960-66), the last three years as manager.
Bergman made his debut in feature movies in 1944 as a screenwriter to the Alf Sjöberg Hets (Frenzy). Fängelse (1949, The Devil's Wanton), shot in two-and-a-half weeks, was the first film Bergman both wrote and directed. Swedish critics referred Bergman as "the puberty crisis director" specializing in "delayed adolescence". The artistic breakthrough came with Gycklarnas afton (1953, Sawdust and Tinsel), in which Bergman described an artist's life as despised and wasted. The background is a third class circus environment. "It is true people often talk about 'decisive moments,'" Bergan said once. "Dramatists in particular make much of this fiction. The truth is probably that such moments hardly exist, but just looks as if they do... The actual breakthrough is a fact far back in the past, far back in obscurity." (from Private Conversations, 1996)
Bergman's first international success was Sommarnattens leende (1955, Smiles of the Summer Night). In the story, which begins realistically but has a kind of fairy tale ending, a country lawyer meets again a touring actress who was once his mistress. He accepts an invitation for him and his young wife to stay at her mother's country home for a weekend. Wild Strawberries (1957) is considered a landmark film in Bergman's career. It dealt with the subject of man's isolation, and like in several films, Bergman used a journey as a plot structure. The Seventh Seal (1957), shot in only 35 days, won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. This medieval road movie explored the individual's relationship with God and the idea of Death. In the story, set in the fourteenth century, a knight challenges Death to a game of chess. Over the years Max von Sydow, the knight, came to be identified as Bergman's on-screen alter ego. However, von Sydow has played also in action movies.
Bibi Andersson, Harriet Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, and Liv Ullmann were Bergman's favorite actresses and Sven Nykvist his regular cameraman. Ullmann, his muse, later left the island of Farö, where they lived, and gained international stardom. Their daughter Linn became as a novelist. In 1971 Bergman married Ingrid von Rosen; they had already had an affair in the late 1950s. Bergman had four previous marriages: with Else Fisher, Ellen Lundström, Gun Grut, and Käbi Laretei. Ingrid von Rosen died of cancer in 1995.
"Film as dream, film as music. No for of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to pour emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul. A little twitch in our optic nerve, a shock effect: twenty-four illuminated frames in a second, darkness in between, the optic nerve incapable of registering darkness. At the editing table, when I run the trip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood: in the darkness of the wardrobe, I slowly wind one frame after another, see almost imperceptible changes, wind faster - a movement." (from The Magical Lantern, 1987)
Recurrent themes in Bergman's films are men's and women's inability to communicate with each other, metaphysical questions of guilt and the existence of God, and the emotional cruelty of human beings. "For many years, I was on Hitler's side, delighted by his success and saddened by his defeats," Bergman revealed from his youth. Already from his early play Jack among the Actors, Bergman showed his interest in the ambiguous tension between artist and public. Persona (1966) marked Bergman's departure from metaphysics toward the realm of human psychology. At that time Bergman was leaving his post at the Royal Dramatic Theater. He wrote the script in 1965 while hospitalized; withdrawal and illness were also subjects of the film. In his self-analysis and works on tensions between the sexes Bergman has continued the psychological tradition of Strindberg. Among Bergman's most probing and honest studies of middle-class married couples from the 1970s is Scenes from a Marriage (1974), starring Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Bibi Anderson, and Jan Malmsjö. Originally it was made as six TV episodes, but Bergman later edited it into feature-length.
Despite Bergman's international status, his films were not always positively received by Swedish critics. In 1962 the director Bo Widerberg published a pamphlet attacking him for reinforcing national stereotypes and calling for a new and more socially conscious national cinema. On the other hand, Summer with Monika (1953) was attacked in the United States. Its prints were confiscated in Los Angeles, and a judge declared that the film appealed to potential sex murderers. Smiles of the Summer Night was promoted as "a Swedish smorgasbord of sex, sin and psychiatry..." In the 1970s and 1980s feminists criticized Bergman's portrayal of women, although he has been considered among the most sensitive interpreters of the inner world of women in Europe. On artistic level the French film theorist Jean Mitry considers The Silence (1963) the perfect example of anticinema, a literary film, embodying everything which should be avoided. "Then we have one of the sisters masturbating while down in the street a tank which has been rolling through the town completely on its own comes to halt, coincidentally right underneath of the windows of her bedroom. No need to mention the sexual symbolism of the tank's gun pointed in the direction of the bedroom, by why on earth should that particular tank be rolling through the streets on its own, except to create its petty effect and to symbolize symbolically a symbolic menace? Etc." (from The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema, 1997)
In 1976 Bergman was arrested by two policeman and charged with income-tax fraud. He suffered a nervous breakdown, closed his studio on the Baltic island of Fårö, and left Sweden in protest. The charges were later dropped. Bergman made his home in Munich, where he was a director at the Residenztheater. The Serpent's Egg (1977), which was filmed in English, dealt with the collapse of the German currency, and other events of the 1920s that paved the way for the Nazis, rise out of Bergman's frustration with the orderly society ande its subordination of the individual.
Bergman once noted that the cinema was like an exciting mistress to him, but the theatre was his faithful wife. As a film director his greatest international success was the autobiographical Fanny and Alexander (1983), which received the Oscar for best foreign film. (See also: Jörn Donner, exec. producer, Finnish writer, and director.) Reviews were in general positive, and Bergman was compared to Maz Ophuls, Federico Fellini, and Luchino Visconti. However, Richard Grenier wrote in Commentary: "I don't believe one word of this 'love' glup that runs from one end of the film to the other. When Ingmar Bergman talked to me of God and death I respected him despite his past political sympathies. But now that he's prattling on about love, and gentle smiles, and fruit trees in bloom, I think something in him snapped." (September 1983) In the story a well-to-do Uppsala family comes together to celebrate Christmas 1907. Statues come to life and the ghost of the departed mingle freely with the living. Alexander, a 10-year old boy, clashes with ironclad dogma and the icy Bishop Vergerus.
After returning to Sweden, Bergman wrote film scripts for Billie August and Daniel Bergman and directed at the Royal Swedish Theatre. The Swedish Film Institute launched a new Ingmar Bergman prize to be awarded annually. In 1988 appeared Bergman's autobiography, The Magic Lantern. It was followed by his film memoir Images: My Life in Film (1993). Bergman's novel The Best Intentions (1993) was based on his parents' lives, and the screenplay for the 1992 film on the same subject. Private Conversations (1996) dealt with the extra-marital affair of Ingmar's mother, Anna with a student-priest, Thomas.
In October 2001 Bergman announced his plans to make a sequel to Scenes from a Marriage with the 78-year old Erland Josephson and the 62-year old Liv Ullmann who also were members of the original cast in 1973. He wrote the screenplay for Liv Ullmann's film Faithless (2000) and two years later Bergman had a new television production under way - Saraband (2003), saying it would be his last picture. Bergman shot the chamber piece on digital video. "Saraband may be Bergman's final primal scream, which his art and craft give the severe majesty of a Bach sello suite," wrote Richard Corliss in Time (August 29, 2005). The last period of his Bergman spent his time on Farö mostly reading and talking with his friends on the phone. Bergman died on July 30, 2007, on Farö, at the age of 89 .
For further reading: Tre dagböcker by Maria von Rosen (2004); The Films of Ingmar Bergman by Jesse Kalin ( 2003); Ingmar Bergman: His Life and Films by Jerry Vermilye (2002); I begynnelsen var ordet. Ingmar Bergman och hans tidigare författarskap by Maaret Koskinen (2002); Ingmar Bergman: Magician and Prophet by Mark Gervais (1999); Ingmar Bergman: His Films and Career by Jerry Vermilye (1998); Gender and Representation in the Films of Ingmar Bergman by Marilyn Johns Blackwell (1997); Between stage and Screen by Egil Tornqvist (1996); Bergman's List, ed. by Gunnar Bergdahl, foreword by Woody Allen, afterword by Jörn Donner (1995); Spel och speglingar. Ingmar Bergmans filmiska estetik by Maaret Koskinen (1993); Ingmar Bergman by Peter Cowie (1992), Ingmar Bergman by Lise-Lote Marker and Frederick J. Marker (1992); The Influence of Existentialism on Ingmar Bergman by Charles B. Ketcham (1988); Ingmar Bergman: A guide to References and Resources by Birgitta Steene (1982); Ingmar Bergman by Peter Cowie (1982); Ingmar Bergman Directs by John Simon (1972); Djävulens ansikte by Jörn Donner (1962) - Bergman's influence on other directors: Woody Allen, Andrei Tarkovsky - see under Arkady Strugatski - Note: Eino Kaila's Persoonallisuus (translated into Swedish under the title Personlighetens psykologi) was among the works, that Ingmar Bergman highly valued.
HETS, 1944 (Frenzy) - screenplay, dir. by Alf Sjöberg
KRIS, 1946 (Crisis)
DET REGNAR PÅ VÅR KÄRLEK, 1946 (It Rains on Our Love)
SKEPP TILL INDIALAND, 1947 (Ship to India)
KVINNA UTAN ANSIKTE, 1947 (Woman Without a Face)
EVA, 1948 - co-sc.
MUSIK IN MÖRKER, 1948 (Music in Darkness/Night is My Future)
HAMNSTAD, 1948 (Port of Call)
FÄNGELSE, 1949 (The Devil's Wanton)
TILL GLÄDJE, 1949 (To Joy)
SÅNT HÄNDER INTE HÄR, 1950 (This Can't Happen Here)
MEDAN STADEN SOVER, 1950 (While the City Sleeps) - synopsis
FRÅNSKILD, 1951 (Divorced) - story, co.sc.
SOMMARLEK, 1951 (Summer Interlude)
KVINNORS VÄNTAN, 1952 (Waiting Women)
SOMMAREN MED MONIKA, 1953 (Summer with Monika)
GYCKLARNAS AFTON, 1953 (Sawdust and Tinsel / The Naked Night)
EN LEKTION I KÄRLEK, 1954 (A Lesson in Love)
SOMMARNATTENS LEENDE, 1955 (Smiles of a Summer Night)
KVINNODRÖM, 1955 (Journey into Autumn)
SISTA PARET UT, 1956 (The Last Couple Out) - story, co-sc.
DET SJUNDE INSEGLET, 1957 (The Seventh Seal)
SMULTRONSTÄLLET, 1957 (Wild Strawberries)
NÄRA LIVET, 1958 (So Close to Life, based on a novel by Ulla Isaksson)
ANSIKTET, 1958 (The Face)
JUNGFRUKÄLLAN, 1960 (The Virgin Spring)
DJÄVULENS ÖGA, 1960 (The Devils Eye)
LUSTGARDEN, 1961 (Pleasure Garden) - co-sc.
SÅSOM I EN SPEGEL, 1961 (Through a Glass Darkly)
NATTVARDSGÄSTERNA, 1962 (Winter Light)
TYSTNADEN, 1963 (The Silence)
VARGTIMMEN, 1968 (Hour of the Wolf)
SKAMMEN, 1968 (Shame)
RITEN, 1969 (The Rite)
FÅRÖDOKUMENT 1969, 1970 (The Fårö Documentary)
BERÖRINGEN, 1971 (The Touch)
VISKNINGAR OCH ROP, 1972 (Cries and Whispers)
SCENER UR ETT ÄKTENSKAP, 1973 (Scenes from a Marriage)
TROLLFLÖJTEN, 1974 (The Magic Flute)
ANSIKTE MOT ANSIKTE, 1975 (Facee to Face)
HÖSTSONATEN, 1978 (Autumn Sonata)
AUS DEM LEBEN DER MARIONETTEN, 1980 (From the Life of the Marionettes)
FANNY OCH ALEXANDER, (1983) - Academy award for the best foreign film
EFTER EN REPETITIONEN, 1983 (After the Rehearsal)
DOKUMENT FANNY OCH ALEXANDER, 1986 (Document Fanny and Alexander)
KARINS ANSIKTE, 1985 (Karin's Face)
THE BEST INTENTIONS, 1992 - screenplay
LARMAR OCH GÖR SIG TILL, 1997 (television film)
screenplay: TROLÖSAN, 2000 (dir. by Liv Ullman, starring Erland Josephson, Lena Endre)
BILDMAKARNA, 2000 (television film, based on Per Olov Enquist's play, performed in Dramaten)
SARABAND, 2003 (television film starring Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson)
Plays, memoirs:
MORALITETER, 1948 (the three morality plays include Rakel och biografivaktmästaren, Dagenslutar tidigt and Mig till Skräck...)
STADEN, 1950-51
TRÄMÅLNING, 1954 - Woodpainting
screenplay: Nära livet, 1958 (with Ulla Isaksson)
screenplay: The Seventh Seal, 1960
screenplay: Wild Strawberries, 1960
screenplay: The Magician, 1960
BERGMAN OM BERGMAN, 1970 (ed. by Stig Björkman)
LATERNA MAGICA, 1987 - The Magic Lantern (autobiography)
BILDER, 1990 - Images: My Life in Film
DEN GODA VILJAN - The Best Intentions, 1993 (novel, written as a script for the film by Billie August, which won the Golden Palm Award at Cannes in 1992. Translated by Joan Tate)
SÖNDAGSBARN - Sunday's Children, 1994 (translated by Joan Tate, made into a film directed by Daniel Bergman)
ENSKILDA SAMTAL, 1996 - Private Conversations
SARABAND, 2003 - Sarabande (suom. Petteri Granström)
TRE DAGBÖCKER, 2004 (with Ingrid Bergman) - Kolme päiväkirjaa (suom. Marita Salminen)

Biography of Satyajit Ray (1921-1992

Biographical Sketch
Satyajit Ray was born on May 2, 1921 in Calcutta to Sukumar and Suprabha Ray. He graduated from the Ballygunge Government School and studied Economics at Presidency College. He then attended Kala Bhavan, the Art School at Tagore's University, Santiniketan during 1940-1942. Without completing the five-year course, he returned to Calcutta in 1943, to join the British-owned advertising agency D. J. Keymer as a visualizer. Within a few years, he rose to be its art director.
In 1948, he married Bijoya Das, a former actress/singer who also happened to be his cousin. Their only offspring, Sandip, was born in 1953. In 1983, Satyajit Ray suffered a massive heart attack. He died on April 23, 1992 in Calcutta after having some 40 films and documentaries and numerous books and articles to his credit.
Politics of Vision: Satyajit Ray and His Cinema
A Bengali Bergman? A sort of reincarnated Renoir? These are Andrew Robinson's cries of high hosannas while placing Satyajit Ray, the subject of his well-known study, in the pantheon of world filmmakers. Michael Sragow, a noted film critic, is more subtle. In a longish essay entitled "An Art Wedded to Truth" in the Atlantic Monthly (Oct. 1994), he describes Ray as the most sublime movie maker to emerge since Renoir and De Sica. Then he adds a careful caveat — unlike the two European masters, Satyajit Ray made "great" and "near great" films throughout his long career producing some thirty-seven features, documentaries and short films, an impressive accomplishment by any measure or standard.
Robinson and Sragow are among a host of Western admirers who have attempted to understand Ray's art in the idiom they know and in the categories they are comfortable with. It is commonly assumed that Ray, artistic and somewhat off-beat, must have emerged from India's long and prolific motion picture tradition which is as old as any. In India, Ray was initially dismissed, especially in Bollywood, as a peddler of poverty, and as someone who made low budget features with the foreign markets, international film festivals and awards in mind.
Even close to half a century after Pather Panchali made its first splash, proper appraisal of Ray's creativity and originality, whether in India or in the West, hangs in a precarious balance. Ashis Nandy, for example, has made the astonishing statement in his well-known essays on Ray that Satyajit Ray, being Calcutta born and bred, had little or no knowledge of rural Bengal, and that Ray and his films are not Indian, Bollywood being quintessentially Indian. Darius Cooper, on the other hand, finds the Ray films as examples of the traditional nine Rasas; Suranjan Ganguly in an otherwise astute study locates Ray culturally and aesthetically in the nineteenth century's ethos of modernity.
Calcutta's well-heeled cinema-goers, especially the leftists, have found in Ray and his films an outstanding political void. In contrast, filmmakers such as Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen are lauded for their outspoken political stance and leftist voice.
In this essay, I argue that Satyajit Ray was very much a product of his times and cultural heritage as well as his own creative self. His thirty-seven film oeuvre is at once a testimony to his diverse and multi-faceted creativity, and a record, a mirror image of sorts, of his times — the second half of the twentieth century in post-independent Bengal and India. Viewed in this perspective, I argue all his films are political; the degree of their political intensity increased as the social and economic crisis deepened in India . A parallel can be found in Tagore's life. From gentle, nuanced and overt cultural critiques of contemporary social mores of Bengali life and style in such works as Gora, Nashtanir (The Broken Nest or Charulata in Ray's film rendition), and Ghare Baire (Home and the World as a Ray film), Tagore's voice became increasingly covert and shrill toward the end of his life as the world was tattered by holocausts and wars. Tagore's last word to the world can be found in his "Crisis of Civilization"; Ray left his last messages to the people of Bengal, India and the World in his last trilogy, his farewell films : Ganashatru (The Enemy of the People) Shakha Proshakha (Branches of a Tree) and Agantuk (The Stranger).
Education of a Filmmaker
Ray was born in 1921 to a distinguished family of artists, litterateurs, musicians, scientists and physicians. His grandfather Upendra Kishore was an innovator, a writer of children's story books (popular to this day), an illustrator and a musician. His father, Sukumar, trained as a printing technologist in England, was also Bengal's most beloved nonsense-rhyme writer, illustrator and cartoonist. He died young when Satyajit was two and a half years old.
Ray's mother, Suprabha, raised him as a single parent. They lived with Suprabha's brother's family and with his paternal uncles. He was much adored and "coddled" as a child and hence the nickname "Manik," or "jewel" in Bengali. Ray later recalled these fun-filled childhood memories in a little book When I Was Small. The extended joint family had uncles, aunts and cousins who crisscrossed cultures — East and West — in their everyday lives. Some played cricket, while some played piano. Some played the violin while others sang, sketched and illustrated stories and verses. One of the uncles was a photographer with his own darkroom, another was a cameraman (later a director) in India's burgeoning film industry.
As a youngster, Ray developed two very significant interests. The first was music, especially Western Classical music. He listened, hummed and whistled. He then learned to read music, began to collect albums, and started to attend concerts whenever he could. These interests and skills were to prove most useful when he chose to score music for his own films.
His second interest was cinema, or "bioscope," as it was called in the early years of motion pictures. He saw silent films as well as "talkies" and started to compile scrapbooks with clippings culled from newspapers and magazines on Hollywood stars. He wrote fan letters to Deana Durbin who replied. Manik carefully put it in his scrapbook, along with pictures of Durbin. The Ray family has preserved this early scrapbook to this day. Ray wrote to Ginger Rogers too, but did not receive a reply. Billy Wilder received a "massive missive," a twelve-page long letter from Ray, now a young man who had developed a keen interest in the craft of cinema. The occasion was Ray's fascination in the Golden Age American Cinema and its profound impact on his own craft which remains an untold story.
By this time a third dimension was added to Ray's passionate interest in cinema. This was Ray's exposure to and training in drawing at Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan. He joined the art school at his mother's insistence and encouragement from Tagore, the great poet, who was a friend of his late father. While in Santiniketan Ray learned to draw from the great master-teacher Nandalal Bose, a pioneer in art education in Modern India. The other teacher who made an abiding impression on him was Binode Behari Mukherjee. Binode Bihari had trained in China and Japan. Calligraphic elements entered his otherwise modernist oeuvre. With his natural talent in drawing, Ray later developed and deployed this element in his illustrations and graphic designs.
Ray did not complete the art course in Santiniketan. He returned to Calcutta, where among other things, he could see the Hollywood films he had enjoyed as an adolescent. While in Santiniketan, Ray had an unusual exposure to film theory, however. Deprived of the chance to frequent his favorite film-shows of the Golden Age variety, he read books on cinema. He read Rotha, Annheim and Spottiswoode. He discovered that his two passions — music and film — actually have a common convergence. Upon his return to Calcutta, he would go to the theater with a note-book. He was not just watching, he was studying as well. His apprenticeship in film-making began as a pleasurable self-pedagogy. This eventually put him on the path to making Pather Panchali. In retrospect, when his family background, early education and exposures are considered, he seems to have had a perfect grounding to be a filmmaker.
Even the diversions in his early life helped pave this career path. His job at D. J. Keymer saw Ray blossom into a great graphic artist, typographer, book-jacket designer and illustrator (he would later sketch frames of his films). While at Keymore, he visited Jean Renoir and had intense discussion on cinema with him when the great French director was shooting The River outside Calcutta. Before this, he had established the Calcutta Film Society where he saw films by Capra, Ford, Huston, Mileston, Wilder and Wyler among others. He also saw films by Eisenstein (he heard Bach in them) and Pudovkins (where he heard Beethoven). During a six-month stint in London in 1950 he saw over one hundred films. Among them were The Bicycle Thief and La Regle du Jeu . Both made a deep impression on Ray and later inspired him to undertake the making of Pather Panchali.
Pather Panchali
In 1950, Satyajit Ray was asked by a major Calcutta publisher to illustrate a children's edition of Pather Panchali, Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee's semi-autobiographical novel. On his way back from London, with little to do on a two-week boat journey, Ray ended up sketching the entire book. These formed the kernel and the essential visual elements in the making of Pather Panchali, Ray's very first film and the film that brought him instant international recognition and fame. At the Cannes Film Festival, in 1956, Ray received in absentia, the Best Human Document Award for this hauntingly beautiful film, its carefully executed details of joys and sorrows in the life of a little boy named Apu in a tiny village in Bengal in the 1920s. Instant fame, however, did not bring in its wake instant fortune.
How he managed to make the film, pawning his rare music albums, his wife Bijoya's jewelry and his mother, Suprabha's networking in the Government circles in Calcutta, has now become a by-word in the annals of Indian film history. It also provides a paradigm on the "modes of production" in the kind of world cinema that stubbornly refuses to kowtow to commercial pressure. The paradigm required a perennial search for the elusive producer; an essential routine of most of Ray's movie-making career. If he had access to funds for the kind of films he wanted to make on his fiercely independent and nonnegotiable artistic terms, the world would have seen more diversity and many more period pieces in Ray's oeuvre: films based on ancient epics, the Mughals and the British Colonials. Instead, he limited himself to what was locally available and possible, refusing to stop or give in to commercial presuures. By 1992, the year he passed on, he had made forty films including shorts and documentaries. Some of these are all-time classics, great and near-great films. Unlike his illustrious contemporaries Antonioni, Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa, for example he never made a film that can qualify as "bad" from the filmmaker's standpoint.
Ray resigned from his job as a visualizer in the British advertisement firm soon after Pather Panchali was released. The die was cast: Ray was now a full-time professional filmmaker. After the completion of the Apu Trilogy (1959), regarded as a classic of World Cinema, Ray continued to work with amazingly diverse and varied material. With each film made in the 1960s, his reputation soared to new heights. Many distinguished awards and prizes came his way.
Satyajit Ray made modest amounts directing and making films. The producers reaped the profits from films that earned substantial revenues, e.g. The Apu Trilogy, and The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (1968). In the mid-sixties, for a couple of years he had no work. The solution to making ends meet for his small family surfaced this way. In 1968, a prominent editor of a widely read literary magazine in Bengali persuaded Ray to write a novella for its annual number. Ray the writer of whodunits, adventure stories, science fictions, appropriately illustrated by himself, made a dramatic appearance on the Bengali literary scene. In addition, there was no surcease since then in his literary output until the time he was taken to the hospital in 1992. His last writing, My Years With Apu, was published posthumously in 1994. He wrote some seventy novellas, stories and translations and each one of them became a best seller in Bengali. The royalties from these various writings supported the Ray family, easing somewhat his anxiety to provide for his family. In the 70s and the 80s he chose to make a few films based on these stories: Sonar Kella (1974), Joi Baba Felunath (1978), Hirak Rajar Deshe (1980), Pikoo (1980), Shakha Proshakha (1990), Uttoran (1993). Sandip Ray directed the last film after Ray had passed away.
In 1975, Satyajit Ray had this to say on the bewildering array of films he had made to date:
"Critics have often accused me of a grasshopperish tendency to jump from theme to theme, from genre to genre... rather than pursue one dominant subject in an easily recognizable style that would help them to pigeonhole me, affix me with a label. [Films with] a whodunit, a children's fantasy, a tale of adventure, problems of contemporary urban youth, the famine of '43, all made over a ten year stretch, it is inevitable that a feeling of restlessness, perhaps even of indecision, will emerge from this jumble. All I can say in self-defense, if one is needed, is that this diversity faithfully reflects my own personality and that behind every film lies a cool decision."
The eclectic Ray was not, as he points out, erratic or idiosyncratic in the choices of his themes. What he does not spell out is how the themes overlapped with and related to the changing social and political mores in post-colonial India and probably his personal life as well.
Politics of Vision
One can locate three major compositional periods in Ray's work and life. The first period (1955-1964) was remarkable for its robust optimism, celebration of the human spirit as well as a certain satisfaction and self-confidence in assuming full auteurship. Ray was not only directing and scripting, he was scoring the music and increasingly taking charge of the camera-work . During this period, he directed, arguably, his greatest films following a trajectory that can be traced back to his family background, his education in art, music and letters, and to the East-West cultural confluence that captured what one can call "Calcutta Modern." One must point out that this phase coincides with the first flush of independence in India or the idea of India that was being forged with yet to be tested forces of nationalism/internationalism, secularism, humanism and modernism of the Nehru era (1947-64).
From the mid-sixties through the seventies, all of the above came under a dark spell. There were two wars — one with China early on and one with Pakistan in 1965. Growing unemployment among the urban middle classes and an agricultural crisis created by a command economy had brought parts of the country face-to-face with famine. In addition, there was an increased disaffection and restlessness among the intelligentsia and politicians. The war in Vietnam and the Cultural Revolution in China had radicalized Calcutta's urban youths and many of its artists, writers and filmmakers. Revolutionary violence and the violence of the counter-revolutionary forces gripped the city. Calcutta, noted as a friendly and safe city, became a dangerous place to live. The Bangladesh war and the influx of millions of refugees fleeing Pakistani pogrom, filled Calcutta and its outskirts. The successful Indian Army operations, the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation were capped by India's first nuclear test in 1974. The anti-Indira Gandhi agitation led to the imposition of the "Emergency" in 1975. This gave Indians a bitter taste of living under an authoritarian government. The Government clamped harsh and draconian measures on the citizens. Yet there were hardly any signs of protest: people followed orders, streets were cleaner, the economy showed growth and the trains were running on time.
Ray, however, was troubled. The films he made during this period clearly projected a troubled vision of India. The "Calcutta Trilogy" Partidwandi, Seemabaddha, Jana Aranya was a powerful portrait of alienation, waywardness and moral collapse among the urban youth. Aranyer Din Ratri, a major film, shows a rape scene; Ashani Sanket, a grim and poignant narrative on the Bengal Famine of 1943 was made during the Bangladesh war. This film shows rape as well. Shatranj Ke Khilari, made during the Emergency shows through irony and the metaphor of a chess game how the king of Oudh, more a poet, composer and singer than a ruler submitted to the British take-over, as his people subjected themselves to the alien rule fleeing from the villages as the British-Indian Army marched in.
The two short films Pikoo and Sadgati refused to equivocate or distance themselves from issues of adultery and untouchability. Even his so called "escapist" films, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, Sonar Kella, Hirak Rajar Deshe, Joi Baba Felunath, carried not-so-hidden messages against wars, crooks, goons and love of lucre and greed. In mid-life, at the height of his creative best, Ray seemed to have suffered a "crisis" — arguably a personal one, but certainly one in his world-view, the way he looked at people and things around him. Increasingly, he became a loner, isolating himself in his Bishop Lefroy Road apartment. He even seriously considered leaving Calcutta — his beloved cinematic city.
The third and last phase saw Ray's "crisis" come full circle. He became even more isolated and distant, telling his telos in enunciatory terms. Unlike the early Ray genres, his films became frankly "wordy," declaring a didactic Ray voice that sought social correctives through acts of enunciation in cinema in Ghare Baire. Based on a Tagore novel, Ray was recasting Tagore's time-tested shibboleths against narrow nationalism, mix of religion and politics, demagogues and their dishonesties. Stricken by two heart attacks, Ray was now involuntarily isolated on doctor's orders. When his condition somewhat stabilized in 1987, he begged his doctors to let him make a film or two: modest family dramas shot indoors under their watchful eyes.
Before he passed on, he made three such pluvies (or movies that were more plays than movies) marking the years 1988, 1989 and 1990 as if he was counting time and using the medium for the message. Ganashatru addressed the questions of the late Capitalist corruption, and manipulation of religion, people, politics and environment. It is Ray's contemporary Indian version of Ibsen's Enemy of the People. Shakha Prashakha also addresses issues of the late Capitalism as it impacts family values corroding traditional generational bonding on the inside, and the fetishization of "black" money as the individuated upwardly ambitious try to make a living on the outside. To the protagonist-enuciator, who like Ray, is a heart patient, "honesty" becomes an obsessive compulsion mediated in the mood swings of music and madness. The signifier is a son who suffers the swings, seldom talks and is dysfunctional. The third in this trilogy is Agantuk. An emotionally charged film, Ray literally plants his own voice in it. He briefly sings three times in place of the enunciator-protagonist. There is little doubt that the protagonist is Ray himself. Ray is a transnational. His global concerns and questions are articulated locally and nationally as the post-Cold War era is ushered in. Issues that are brought up implicate Ray and his visions: Who is an artist? How do his loved ones measure it? In monetary terms? Who is civilized and who is "primitive?" The world-traveller and the ethnographer reveals his telos at last. He is against narrowness of all sorts, against boundaries, borders and barriers. "Don't be a frog in the well," he tells his young grandnephew as he moves on to his next destination.
Selfhood of Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray received many labels in his lifetime — most of them admiring, adulatory, some critical. Critics and scholars have marveled at his craftsmanship, mastery of detail and storytelling techniques. He has been called the last Bengali renaissance man, the inheritor and an exemplar of the Tagore tradition, a classic chronicler of changes being wrought in a traditional society, a humanist, an internationalist and a modernist. All these can be defended and debated. But two charges against him are not defendable: that Ray was not political or not political enough; that he was a humanist and modernist. About the first, one can argue that Satyajit Ray, at a certain level in all his films negotiated the polyps of the political Unconscious . However, the way he did it, as I have tried to show, changed over time. Second, Ray was a modernist in the sense that his medium was a modern invention that he used to perfection. However, this mostly applied to the use of the medium and not to the material he grafted on it. The latter came in various shades of Indian life, particularly life in Bengal. He attempted to represent this, mediated by great artistic sensibility and with attentiveness to complexity and diversity. The East/West confluence produced a modernity in Bengal that can be traced to antecedents in prior histories of early modernities outside the Modern West. The same thing can be said about humanism which certainly has a long and illustrious tradition in India.
Ray's films illumined lives. No one made films on such diverse subjects before him the way he did; and it remains to be seen whether another director would do so in the future. Whatever Ray was, it is impossible, as he said himself, to label him or put him in a pigeonhole.

Joseph-Louis Lagrange

Joseph-Louis Lagrange
Born: 25 Jan 1736 in Turin, Sardinia-Piedmont (now Italy)Died: 10 April 1813 in Paris, France
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Joseph-Louis Lagrange is usually considered to be a French mathematician, but the Italian Encyclopaedia [40] refers to him as an Italian mathematician. They certainly have some justification in this claim since Lagrange was born in Turin and baptised in the name of Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia. Lagrange's father was Giuseppe Francesco Lodovico Lagrangia who was Treasurer of the Office of Public Works and Fortifications in Turin, while his mother Teresa Grosso was the only daughter of a medical doctor from Cambiano near Turin. Lagrange was the eldest of their 11 children but one of only two to live to adulthood.
Turin had been the capital of the duchy of Savoy, but became the capital of the kingdom of Sardinia in 1720, sixteen years before Lagrange's birth. Lagrange's family had French connections on his father's side, his great-grandfather being a French cavalry captain who left France to work for the Duke of Savoy. Lagrange always leant towards his French ancestry, for as a youth he would sign himself Lodovico LaGrange or Luigi Lagrange, using the French form of his family name.
Despite the fact that Lagrange's father held a position of some importance in the service of the king of Sardinia, the family were not wealthy since Lagrange's father had lost large sums of money in unsuccessful financial speculation. A career as a lawyer was planned out for Lagrange by his father, and certainly Lagrange seems to have accepted this willingly. He studied at the College of Turin and his favourite subject was classical Latin. At first he had no great enthusiasm for mathematics, finding Greek geometry rather dull.
Lagrange's interest in mathematics began when he read a copy of Halley's 1693 work on the use of algebra in optics. He was also attracted to physics by the excellent teaching of Beccaria at the College of Turin and he decided to make a career for himself in mathematics. Perhaps the world of mathematics has to thank Lagrange's father for his unsound financial speculation, for Lagrange later claimed:-
If I had been rich, I probably would not have devoted myself to mathematics.
He certainly did devote himself to mathematics, but largely he was self taught and did not have the benefit of studying with leading mathematicians. On 23 July 1754 he published his first mathematical work which took the form of a letter written in Italian to Giulio Fagnano. Perhaps most surprising was the name under which Lagrange wrote this paper, namely Luigi De la Grange Tournier. This work was no masterpiece and showed to some extent the fact that Lagrange was working alone without the advice of a mathematical supervisor. The paper draws an analogy between the binomial theorem and the successive derivatives of the product of functions.
Before writing the paper in Italian for publication, Lagrange had sent the results to Euler, who at this time was working in Berlin, in a letter written in Latin. The month after the paper was published, however, Lagrange found that the results appeared in correspondence between Johann Bernoulli and Leibniz. Lagrange was greatly upset by this discovery since he feared being branded a cheat who copied the results of others. However this less than outstanding beginning did nothing more than make Lagrange redouble his efforts to produce results of real merit in mathematics. He began working on the tautochrone, the curve on which a weighted particle will always arrive at a fixed point in the same time independent of its initial position. By the end of 1754 he had made some important discoveries on the tautochrone which would contribute substantially to the new subject of the calculus of variations (which mathematicians were beginning to study but which did not receive the name 'calculus of variations' before Euler called it that in 1766).
Lagrange sent Euler his results on the tautochrone containing his method of maxima and minima. His letter was written on 12 August 1755 and Euler replied on 6 September saying how impressed he was with Lagrange's new ideas. Although he was still only 19 years old, Lagrange was appointed professor of mathematics at the Royal Artillery School in Turin on 28 September 1755. It was well deserved for the young man had already shown the world of mathematics the originality of his thinking and the depth of his great talents.
In 1756 Lagrange sent Euler results that he had obtained on applying the calculus of variations to mechanics. These results generalised results which Euler had himself obtained and Euler consulted Maupertuis, the president of the Berlin Academy, about this remarkable young mathematician. Not only was Lagrange an outstanding mathematician but he was also a strong advocate for the principle of least action so Maupertuis had no hesitation but to try to entice Lagrange to a position in Prussia. He arranged with Euler that he would let Lagrange know that the new position would be considerably more prestigious than the one he held in Turin. However, Lagrange did not seek greatness, he only wanted to be able to devote his time to mathematics, and so he shyly but politely refused the position.
Euler also proposed Lagrange for election to the Berlin Academy and he was duly elected on 2 September 1756. The following year Lagrange was a founding member of a scientific society in Turin, which was to become the Royal Academy of Sciences of Turin. One of the major roles of this new Society was to publish a scientific journal the Mélanges de Turin which published articles in French or Latin. Lagrange was a major contributor to the first volumes of the Mélanges de Turin volume 1 of which appeared in 1759, volume 2 in 1762 and volume 3 in 1766.
The papers by Lagrange which appear in these transactions cover a variety of topics. He published his beautiful results on the calculus of variations, and a short work on the calculus of probabilities. In a work on the foundations of dynamics, Lagrange based his development on the principle of least action and on kinetic energy.
In the Mélanges de Turin Lagrange also made a major study on the propagation of sound, making important contributions to the theory of vibrating strings. He had read extensively on this topic and he clearly had thought deeply on the works of Newton, Daniel Bernoulli, Taylor, Euler and d'Alembert. Lagrange used a discrete mass model for his vibrating string, which he took to consist of n masses joined by weightless strings. He solved the resulting system of n+1 differential equations, then let n tend to infinity to obtain the same functional solution as Euler had done. His different route to the solution, however, shows that he was looking for different methods than those of Euler, for whom Lagrange had the greatest respect.
In papers which were published in the third volume, Lagrange studied the integration of differential equations and made various applications to topics such as fluid mechanics (where he introduced the Lagrangian function). Also contained are methods to solve systems of linear differential equations which used the characteristic value of a linear substitution for the first time. Another problem to which he applied his methods was the study the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.
The Académie des Sciences in Paris announced its prize competition for 1764 in 1762. The topic was on the libration of the Moon, that is the motion of the Moon which causes the face that it presents to the Earth to oscillate causing small changes in the position of the lunar features. Lagrange entered the competition, sending his entry to Paris in 1763 which arrived there not long before Lagrange himself. In November of that year he left Turin to make his first long journey, accompanying the Marquis Caraccioli, an ambassador from Naples who was moving from a post in Turin to one in London. Lagrange arrived in Paris shortly after his entry had been received but took ill while there and did not proceed to London with the ambassador. D'Alembert was upset that a mathematician as fine as Lagrange did not receive more honour. He wrote on his behalf [1]:-
Monsieur de la Grange, a young geometer from Turin, has been here for six weeks. He has become quite seriously ill and he needs, not financial aid, for the Marquis de Caraccioli directed upon leaving for England that he should not lack for anything, but rather some signs of interest on the part of his native country ... In him Turin possesses a treasure whose worth it perhaps does not know.
Returning to Turin in early 1765, Lagrange entered, later that year, for the Académie des Sciences prize of 1766 on the orbits of the moons of Jupiter. D'Alembert, who had visited the Berlin Academy and was friendly with Frederick II of Prussia, arranged for Lagrange to be offered a position in the Berlin Academy. Despite no improvement in Lagrange's position in Turin, he again turned the offer down writing:-
It seems to me that Berlin would not be at all suitable for me while M Euler is there.
By March 1766 d'Alembert knew that Euler was returning to St Petersburg and wrote again to Lagrange to encourage him to accept a post in Berlin. Full details of the generous offer were sent to him by Frederick II in April, and Lagrange finally accepted. Leaving Turin in August, he visited d'Alembert in Paris, then Caraccioli in London before arriving in Berlin in October. Lagrange succeeded Euler as Director of Mathematics at the Berlin Academy on 6 November 1766.
Lagrange was greeted warmly by most members of the Academy and he soon became close friends with Lambert and Johann(III) Bernoulli. However, not everyone was pleased to see this young man in such a prestigious position, particularly Castillon who was 32 years older than Lagrange and considered that he should have been appointed as Director of Mathematics. Just under a year from the time he arrived in Berlin, Lagrange married his cousin Vittoria Conti. He wrote to d'Alembert:-
My wife, who is one of my cousins and who even lived for a long time with my family, is a very good housewife and has no pretensions at all.
They had no children, in fact Lagrange had told d'Alembert in this letter that he did not wish to have children.
Turin always regretted losing Lagrange and from time to time his return there was suggested, for example in 1774. However, for 20 years Lagrange worked at Berlin, producing a steady stream of top quality papers and regularly winning the prize from the Académie des Sciences of Paris. He shared the 1772 prize on the three body problem with Euler, won the prize for 1774, another one on the motion of the moon, and he won the 1780 prize on perturbations of the orbits of comets by the planets.
His work in Berlin covered many topics: astronomy, the stability of the solar system, mechanics, dynamics, fluid mechanics, probability, and the foundations of the calculus. He also worked on number theory proving in 1770 that every positive integer is the sum of four squares. In 1771 he proved Wilson's theorem (first stated without proof by Waring) that n is prime if and only if (n -1)! + 1 is divisible by n. In 1770 he also presented his important work Réflexions sur la résolution algébrique des équations which made a fundamental investigation of why equations of degrees up to 4 could be solved by radicals. The paper is the first to consider the roots of an equation as abstract quantities rather than having numerical values. He studied permutations of the roots and, although he does not compose permutations in the paper, it can be considered as a first step in the development of group theory continued by Ruffini, Galois and Cauchy.
Although Lagrange had made numerous major contributions to mechanics, he had not produced a comprehensive work. He decided to write a definitive work incorporating his contributions and wrote to Laplace on 15 September 1782:-
I have almost completed a Traité de mécanique analytique, based uniquely on the principle of virtual velocities; but, as I do not yet know when or where I shall be able to have it printed, I am not rushing to put the finishing touches to it.
Caraccioli, who was by now in Sicily, would have liked to see Lagrange return to Italy and he arranged for an offer to be made to him by the court of Naples in 1781. Offered the post of Director of Philosophy of the Naples Academy, Lagrange turned it down for he only wanted peace to do mathematics and the position in Berlin offered him the ideal conditions. During his years in Berlin his health was rather poor on many occasions, and that of his wife was even worse. She died in 1783 after years of illness and Lagrange was very depressed. Three years later Frederick II died and Lagrange's position in Berlin became a less happy one. Many Italian States saw their chance and attempts were made to entice him back to Italy.
The offer which was most attractive to Lagrange, however, came not from Italy but from Paris and included a clause which meant that Lagrange had no teaching. On 18 May 1787 he left Berlin to become a member of the Académie des Sciences in Paris, where he remained for the rest of his career. Lagrange survived the French Revolution while others did not and this may to some extent be due to his attitude which he had expressed many years before when he wrote:-
I believe that, in general, one of the first principles of every wise man is to conform strictly to the laws of the country in which he is living, even when they are unreasonable.
The Mécanique analytique which Lagrange had written in Berlin, was published in 1788. It had been approved for publication by a committee of the Académie des Sciences comprising of Laplace, Cousin, Legendre and Condorcet. Legendre acted as an editor for the work doing proof reading and other tasks. The Mécanique analytique summarised all the work done in the field of mechanics since the time of Newton and is notable for its use of the theory of differential equations. With this work Lagrange transformed mechanics into a branch of mathematical analysis. He wrote in the Preface:-
One will not find figures in this work. The methods that I expound require neither constructions, nor geometrical or mechanical arguments, but only algebraic operations, subject to a regular and uniform course.
Lagrange was made a member of the committee of the Académie des Sciences to standardise weights and measures in May 1790. They worked on the metric system and advocated a decimal base. Lagrange married for a second time in 1792, his wife being Renée-Françoise-Adélaide Le Monnier the daughter of one of his astronomer colleagues at the Académie des Sciences. He was certainly not unaffected by the political events. In 1793 the Reign of Terror commenced and the Académie des Sciences, along with the other learned societies, was suppressed on 8 August. The weights and measures commission was the only one allowed to continue and Lagrange became its chairman when others such as the chemist Lavoisier, Borda, Laplace, Coulomb, Brisson and Delambre were thrown off the commission.
In September 1793 a law was passed ordering the arrest of all foreigners born in enemy countries and all their property to be confiscated. Lavoisier intervened on behalf of Lagrange, who certainly fell under the terms of the law, and he was granted an exception. On 8 May 1794, after a trial that lasted less than a day, a revolutionary tribunal condemned Lavoisier, who had saved Lagrange from arrest, and 27 others to death. Lagrange said on the death of Lavoisier, who was guillotined on the afternoon of the day of his trial:-
It took only a moment to cause this head to fall and a hundred years will not suffice to produce its like.
The École Polytechnique was founded on 11 March 1794 and opened in December 1794 (although it was called the École Centrale des Travaux Publics for the first year of its existence). Lagrange was its first professor of analysis, appointed for the opening in 1794. In 1795 the École Normale was founded with the aim of training school teachers. Lagrange taught courses on elementary mathematics there. We mentioned above that Lagrange had a 'no teaching' clause written into his contract but the Revolution changed things and Lagrange was required to teach. However, he was not a good lecturer as Fourier, who attended his lectures at the École Normale in 1795 wrote:-
His voice is very feeble, at least in that he does not become heated; he has a very pronounced Italian accent and pronounces the s like z ... The students, of whom the majority are incapable of appreciating him, give him little welcome, but the professors make amends for it.
Similarly Bugge who attended his lectures at the École Polytechnique in 1799 wrote:-
... whatever this great man says, deserves the highest degree of consideration, but he is too abstract for youth.
Lagrange published two volumes of his calculus lectures. In 1797 he published the first theory of functions of a real variable with Théorie des fonctions analytiques although he failed to give enough attention to matters of convergence. He states that the aim of the work is to give:-
... the principles of the differential calculus, freed from all consideration of the infinitely small or vanishing quantities, of limits or fluxions, and reduced to the algebraic analysis of finite quantities.
Also he states:-
The ordinary operations of algebra suffice to resolve problems in the theory of curves.
Not everyone found Lagrange's approach to the calculus the best however, for example de Prony wrote in 1835:-
Lagrange's foundations of the calculus is assuredly a very interesting part of what one might call purely philosophical study: but when it is a case of making transcendental analysis an instrument of exploration for questions presented by astronomy, marine engineering, geodesy, and the different branches of science of the engineer, the consideration of the infinitely small leads to the aim in a manner which is more felicitous, more prompt, and more immediately adapted to the nature of the questions, and that is why the Leibnizian method has, in general, prevailed in French schools.
The second work of Lagrange on this topic Leçons sur le calcul des fonctions appeared in 1800.
Napoleon named Lagrange to the Legion of Honour and Count of the Empire in 1808. On 3 April 1813 he was awarded the Grand Croix of the Ordre Impérial de la Réunion. He died a week later.
Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Click on this link to see a list of the Glossary entries for this page
List of References (61 books/articles)
Some Quotations (10)
A Poster of Joseph-Louis Lagrange
Mathematicians born in the same country
Additional Material in MacTutor
Joseph Fourier on his teachers
Extract of Lagrange's Reflexions sur la resolution algebrique des equations from his collected works (1869).
Honours awarded to Joseph-Louis Lagrange(Click below for those honoured in this way)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Fellow of the Royal Society
Lunar features
Crater Lagrange

Paris street names
Rue Lagrange (5th Arrondissement)
Commemorated on the Eiffel Tower
Cross-references in MacTutor
History Topics: The development of group theory
History Topics: Matrices and determinants
History Topics: Mathematical games and recreations
History Topics: The fundamental theorem of algebra
History Topics: Orbits and gravitation
History Topics: Arabic mathematics : forgotten brilliance?
History Topics: General relativity
History Topics: An overview of the history of mathematics
History Topics: The rise of the calculus
History Topics: Pell's equation
History Topics: The brachistochrone problem
History Topics: The history of measurement
History Topics: The function concept
Chronology: 1740 to 1760
Chronology: 1760 to 1780
Chronology: 1780 to 1800
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