Name-Dropping Satyajit Ray: A Bong’s Greatest Accessory

Pop Culture

Name-Dropping Satyajit Ray: A Bong’s Greatest Accessory

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


here’s a running joke about Bengalis that never seems to lose its charm for almost every non-Bengali friend or acquaintance that I’ve come to know. It goes something like this: “So after you are born, the first words that any Bengali utters are ‘Satyajit Ray’, na?” More often than not, this icebreaker is followed by raucous laughter from the joke-cracker and a sheepish smile from the subject of the joke.

I’ve heard this quip on the first day of college, on a drunken night out with friends, and at press shows where the presence of rapidly multiplying Bengali film critics never ceases to amaze anyone. And, yet despite the impreciseness of the wisecrack – I’m certain the first two words of any Bengali are “Bhaat khaabo” (I will eat rice) – I find myself unable to contradict or take offence to it. Because jokes like these are a result of “kalchaar-ed” Bangali bhodrolok’s own doing. It’s actually the very impression we strive to achieve.