Ray day: How Satyajit's unmade Hollywood project helped Steven Spielberg
- Satyajit Ray, who was born on May 2, is widely considered as one of India's greatest filmmakers
- In 1992, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for his contributions to the world of cinema
- After seeing ET, Arthur C. Clarke called Ray and told him about the similarities between it and Ray's script for The Alien
Satyajit Ray, who was born on May 2, is widely considered as one of India's greatest filmmakers. He directed classics such as 'Pather Panchali,' 'Charulata,' and 'Devi,' among many others. On April 23, 1992, at the age of 70, the filmmaker died.
In 1992, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for his contributions to the world of cinema. Filmmakers like Wes Anderson have been affected by his work and frequently pay respect to him in their films.
However, Ray was told about one filmmaker in 1982 who may not have been the most reverent of his art. It was none other than Steven Spielberg, a four-time Academy Award winner. Following the premiere of Steven Spielberg's hit film ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, Ray had gotten a call from someone.
Arthur C Clarke, the great science fiction writer, was the one to call. After seeing ET, he called Ray and told him about the similarities between it and Ray's script for The Alien. Ray was even more devastated because he was in negotiations with Hollywood producers to turn his novel The Alien into a film. However, for one reason or another, the project never took off.
In an interview with India Today Magazine in 1983, Ray stated, “You know at least two of the Spielberg-Lucas films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET, would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies. Some days back Arthur Clark telephoned me from London, saying that I should file a copyright case and should not take it lying down."
Ray though, did not criticize the entire industry. "Other than this personal complaint, I have no quarrel against the makers of science and space fantasies. I think it’s a genre full of possibilities, though I also have a feeling that Spielberg and Lucas are unnecessarily complicating the stories. The story should be simple, clear, without frills.”
However, Spielberg disputed the charges, claiming that he was a high school student at the time The Alien script was discussed in Hollywood.
While ET was about a little child in the United States meeting and befriending an alien and hiding him in his house, The Alien was about an alien landing in a village in Bengal and befriending a boy.
ET was one of the films that started the tradition of aliens solely visiting the United States when they landed on Earth. Perhaps if they had landed in Bengal first, India might have become an alien hotbed instead.