The Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred upon two living legends of modern cinema — Hollywood director Martin Scorsese and Hungarian auteur Istvan Szabo — at the inaugural event of the 52nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here on Saturday.
Both were not present to receive the award personally, but they marked their presence with thoughtful video messages.
In his message, Szabo paid a personal tribute to Satyajit Ray, the master whose birth centenary is being celebrated this year. He reminisced about his meeting with Ray, which took place more than 30 years ago in the then Madras.
“Ray invited my wife and me for dinner, which was excellent,” Szabo remembered. “We had a fantastic discussion on his films and filmmaking, our profession. It was a profound discussion that I will never forget.”
Expressing his gratitude for the award, Szabo said: “I am deeply moved to realise that Indians know my films and some of them even love them.”
An extraordinary artiste, Szabo achieved international success with his film ‘Mephisto’ in 1981. It was the first from Hungary to win an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. His movies broke the barriers of language and touched the hearts of viewers around the world.
Scorsese, in his message, also paid his homage to Ray. “He is one of the filmmakers whose work I have been turning to over and over again, throughout my life,” he said, adding: “Every time I see his films, it’s an all-new experience.”
He concluded by saying: “I thank you. I thank Satyajit Ray and the Indian film industry. I am sorry I am unable to be there in person and I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for this honour. I was (in Goa) in 1996. I’d love to go back.”
It was only this year that IFFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award has been named after Satyajit Ray.