The authorities of the prestigious Paris based institute Cinematheque Francaise have been spending sleepless nights for sometime now. The reason? The original screenplay and story-boards of (late) Satyajit Ray’s iconic debut film Pather Panchali has been missing from there.
Readers maybe aware that this institute holds one of the world’s largest archives of films and movie-related objects.
Speaking about this incident, Arup K De (Chief Executive – Society For The Preservation Of Satyajit Ray Archives, Kolkata) said that the institute had communicated to them that all the original Pather Panchali documents are untraceable. He added that they are highly sorry to say that the original script of Pather Panchali has gone missing from Cinematheque Francaise and that they all are in a state of shock at the apathy towards one of the most respected filmmakers of modern cinema. He also added that they hope that the documents have been misplaced, rather than stolen, and that this national treasure will be retrieved some day. Needless to say that the said news has indeed shocked (late) Ray’s wife Bijoya and son Sandip, who are now planning to take up the matter at the diplomatic level.
Buzz is that the news came to light when a German filmmaker had contacted the society in October, giving them the reference of Ray’s late biographer Marie Seton as she was making a documentary on Ray and wanted the original script of Pather Panchali for reference. The Society, in turn guided her to contact Cinematheque Francaise, as Ray had donated most of the original documents of the film in the early ’60s to for safe keeping.
This is when the German director replied back to the Society about the missing documents of Pather Panchali. Readers maybe aware of the fact that this Government of West Bengal’s funded film later went on to win numerous national and international awards, which also included the ‘Best Human Document award’ at Cannes.