Drawing of Bengali text, underneath a watercolour sketch of a man, woman, servant and horse walking in a line.

Event information

21 Jun 2021


Online event


Please note this is an online event and will require you to use the video conferencing system Zoom.

These events are free however donations are greatly appreciated.

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Join us to celebrate the legendary film director Satyajit Ray in this exclusive Members' lecture.

In 1955, Hollywood director John Huston visited India in search of locations for his film The Man Who Would Be King. While in Calcutta (Kolkata), he watched some silent rough-cut of Pather Panchali, the first film made by an unknown Bengali art director working in advertising named Satyajit Ray – some of whose drawings are now in the British Museum. Huston recognised 'the work of a great film-maker'. His recommendation led to the film's world premiere at New York's Museum of Modern Art, which launched Ray internationally.

Pather Panchali, the first of The Apu Trilogy – with music by Ravi Shankar – has long been regarded as a classic, along with The Music RoomCharulata and The Chess Players. It's been deeply admired by directors as diverse as Richard Attenborough, Akira Kurosawa, Jean Renoir and Martin Scorsese. 

'Ray's magic, the simple poetry of his images, will always stay with me', commented Scorsese in 1991, not long before Ray was awarded an Oscar for his lifetime achievement, just before his death. 

Now, in the centenary year of Ray's birth, 1921, hear from his acclaimed biographer and noted historian, Andrew Robinson, on the life and work of an artist who Renoir called 'the Father of Indian Cinema'.

To attend this online event

Join the discussion from 18.15 on Monday 21 June. We're hosting the event on Zoom, a free video conferencing system.

Once you've accessed this event, one of the Membership team will be ready to greet you and explain how to ask questions and take part. After the initial presentation and discussion, we'll be inviting questions from the audience.

Before the meeting, if you have any queries relating to the event or need help, please email us at friends@britishmuseum.org

Please note once maximum capacity is reached on Zoom, Members can watch the event streamed on YouTube and will be redirected from the same 'Join the discussion' link. A recording of the event will be circulated shortly afterwards in a Members' email. 

About the speaker

Andrew Robinson has been studying Satyajit Ray's life and work since the 1980s, when he first visited Calcutta (Kolkata) and watched Ray shoot a feature film. His books on Ray include Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye, which will appear in a third edition from Bloomsbury Publishing in 2021, and Satyajit Ray: A Vision of Cinema, a large-format, highly illustrated book including many examples of Ray's drawings, screenplays and musical scores. He has also written and edited a number of books on Rabindranath Tagore, a leading influence on Ray, including The Art of Rabindranath Tagore (with a foreword by Ray), as well as books on Indian history, such as India: A Short History and The Indus: Lost Civilizations. His other books include Genius: A Very Short Introduction, and biographies of Jean-François Champollion, Albert Einstein, Michael Ventris and Thomas Young.