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Mystery of Missing Ray Screenplay
« on: September 11, 2003, 05:37:49 PM »

Mystery of missing Ray screenplay
By Soutik Biswas
BBC News Online correspondent in Delhi  

A missing screenplay by legendary Indian director, Satyajit Ray, has surfaced in Calcutta, more than 10 years after his death.
A major portion of the script for Ray's 1961 film, Teen Kanya (Three Daughters), was offered for sale to the director's son, Sandip Ray.

The script was brought in by a middleman - supposedly fronting for someone who owned it.

"It was like a bolt out of the blue," Mr Ray told BBC News Online.

"I am absolutely sure it was stolen from our house at some point."

Script 'stolen'

Director Satyajit Ray, who died in April 1992 after receiving an Oscar for lifetime achievement, wrote exhaustive screenplays for all his 28 feature films.

The screenplay for a typical feature would fill up two or three custom-made notebooks.

Their pages would be covered in notes, illustrations and detailed storyboards.

Once the film was made, the notebooks would be stashed away in the director's Calcutta home.

As well as making films of his own, Sandip Ray is a founder of the Calcutta-based Satyajit Ray Society, which works to preserve and promote the posthumous film-maker's work.

He says he received a telephone call from a man who claimed he had got hold of some objects linked to the late director and wanted to check if they were original.

"When he arrived with the two notebooks, we found it was a major part of the Teen Kanya script and authentic," says Mr Ray.

"It had also been preserved carefully by whoever the owner was."

He says the owner had split a chunk of the script into two notebooks and was offering them for sale - at a price of 150,000 rupees each.

"We refused the offer and the middleman vanished with the script," says Mr Ray.

Now Sandip Ray is certain that the script was "stolen by somebody who was pretty close" to his father and the family.

"It is impossible to hazard a guess, but one thing is certain: My father never gave away his scripts or storyboards to anyone."

Forgery trade

Some 70 notebooks containing Ray's screenplays are now being restored as part of an effort to preserve the film-maker's writings and illustrations.

The work is being supported by the Ford Foundation and the India Foundation for the Arts.

This is not the first time that Ray's works have gone missing.

In the early 1970s, a major portion of the screenplay of his classic, Charulata (The Lonely Wife), went missing and was never found.

In recent years, final drafts of Ray's last detective novel for children, Robertsoner Ruby (Robertson's Ruby) and My Days with Apu, his reminiscences of the making of the famed Apu film trilogy, have also gone missing from the family home in Calcutta.

Both the works were eventually pieced back together by the Ray family using his initial, rough drafts.

A fake industry, claiming to offer Ray's sketches, has also sprung up recently.

Two months ago, a man met Sandip Ray to get him to verify the authenticity of some paintings and illustrations he had bought, which were purported to be Ray originals.

"They were tacky, bad fakes," says Sandip Ray.

The owner of the fakes had been conned into buying them by a man who claimed that these drawings were made by Ray when he was a student.


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