War of letters between Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray!
Let’s start with words and not with movie dialogues…. Let’s start with letters….
Satyajit Ray: ‘May I point out that the topicality of the theme in question stretches back into antiquity, when it found expression in that touching fable about the poor deluded crow with a fatal weakness for status symbols?’
Mrinal Sen: ‘To conclude, I do not, by any chance, wish to take refuge under the fabled crow's wings and claim to be an Aesop or a Cervantes or Chaplin. I have made a film called Akash Kusum and that is all’
Satyajit Ray: ‘A crow film is a crow film is a crow film’ (paraphrasing the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard)
The war of words and ideology did not end here. Over a span of a month in 1965, The Statesman carried letter after letter by two of the most celebrated directors from Bengal, Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. Their wit dragged names such as Cervantes, Aesop, Ibsen, Gorky, Wilde and even Hamlet and exposed how different they were in their views and ideology.
However, the rivalry between Sen and Ray remained restricted to ideology only and in real life they had a mutual respect for each other, gifting India internationally acclaimed movies through their unorthodox approach and analysis of political and social issues. Their ways were different but powerful in their exposure and subtlety. Mrinal Sen himself knew of this difference and how Ray’s films had a bigger mass appeal than his. But like a pragmatic director Sen had once said: “It is up to each communicator to choose his or her own shade of grey. After all, there is no black and white in the real world.”