Satyajit Ray saw himself as part of a continuing artistic tradition in Bengal, but also part of a general Indian classical tradition; he spoke of Tagore and Kalidasa in the same breath. His filmography, with his debut feature Pather Panchali in 1955, averages about one film every one-and-a-half years till his demise in 1992. He has directed 36 films including feature films, documentaries and telefilms.
In an interview when asked what he feared most, he said "running out of inspiration… I think there is still no fear of running out of subjects. But if I have to descend to cliche… that is my fear."
Described by Martin Scorsese as one of "the four greats" alongside Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, he won the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the age of 71, which he accepted from his hospital bed. Here is a list of all his films that are available on streaming.
Streaming Platform: Eros Now, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream
The saga of a young boy, Apu, (Subir Banerjee) in an impoverished village, it was completed with a loan from the West Bengal government, and pawning family jewelry and books, and ended up winning 11 international prizes including "Best Human Documentary" at the Cannes Film Festival.
During its late night premiere at Cannes, renowned critic Francois Truffaunt had walked out, and said, "I don't want to see a movie of peasants eating with their hands." But Cannes awakened to this new talent, regardless, had another screening the following afternoon.
Streaming Platform: Eros Now, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream
The second film in Ray's filmography, but also of the Apu trilogy, it follows Apu's (Pinaki Sen Gupta) family as they travel to the holy city of Benares along Ganga's shore.
Roger Ebert reviewed the film glowingly, "It is about a time, place and culture far removed from our own, and yet it connects directly and deeply with our human feelings. It is like a prayer, affirming that this is what the cinema can be, no matter how far in our cynicism we may stray."
Streaming Platform: Hoichoi, JioCinema, AirtelXstream
About an ageing Bengali zamindar (Chhabi Biswas), clinging onto the vestiges of past glory, it is known for its extraordinary music and a famous kathak dance sequence. Subrata Mitra's camerawork aside, Derek Malcolm from The Guardian commented on how "Ray's equally ravishing score [showed] us that the old aristocrat's appreciation of high art was not simply an attempt to show off."
Streaming Platforn: YouTube
Apur Sansar the third part of The Apu Trilogy, after Pather Panchali and Aparajito, that follows a young Bengali named Apu in the early twentieth century Indian subcontinent. This film focuses on Apu's adult life, played by Soumitra Chatterjee and Sharmila Tagore, both of whom would go on to appear in many subsequent Ray films.
A documentary on the life of the Nobel Prize winning painter and poet, this was released during the centenary birth year of Rabindranath Tagore. Interestingly Ray did not use any of Tagore's poetry in this documentary as he was not happy with the English translation and believed that people would not consider Tagore "a very great poet" based on those translations.
A triptych anthology film based on stories written by Rabindranath Tagore, these were made in honor of the centenary of the writer Rabindranath Tagore's birth.
Streaming Platform: YouTube (Bangla Art Film)
Ray's first colour film, it follows an affluent family's vacation in Darjeeling- their manners, mores, and mettle. In 2008, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences restored this film whose original negative was damaged beyond repair.
Streaming Platform: Erosnow, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream
Despite being one of Ray's lesser known films, it also, ironically, was one of his most commercially successful one, a noir melodrama filled with taxi drivers, drug smugglers, and prostitutes that starred the luminous Waheeda Rehman opposite Soumitra Chatterjee. It is said that this film served as an inspiration for Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver, with a similar plot- here the Vietnam war veteran is a Rajput man, who is reduced to a taxi driver.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), MUBI (for May 2021)
Caught in the cross-currents of changing urban moralities, this is a story of a middle class couple. Roger Ebert who was then writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote about Madhabi Mukherjee who plays the householder wife who finally gets to work for a living to the consternation of the conservatives, "She is a beautiful, deep, wonderful actress who simply surpasses all ordinary standards of judgment."
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), YouTube, MUBI (for May 2021)
A short story-like drama that is shot almost entirely within a haveli and its grounds in 1880s Calcutta. It is about the bored housewife (Madhabi Mukherjee) and her adulterous pangs when her brother-in-law (Soumitra Chatterjee) arrives at the house.
When this film was rejected from the Cannes Film Festival in 1964, there were protests from Sir David Lean, Ingmar Bergman and Robert Mulligan.Ray was the favourite of the French new-wave's auteur, Jean Luc Goddard. Wes Anderson dedicated his film, The Darjeeling Limited to Ray, using "Charu's Theme" from the film as leitmotif here.
Streaming Platform: YouTube (Oscars)
When Ray was asked to create a short film in English for 'ESSO World Theater', a cultural showcase presented on television, funded by the American oil company Esso, he decided, instead, to make a silent film.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), YouTube (Rajshri), AirtelXstream
This is a diptych, and Zee5 screens them as separate films. One is about a screenwriter's tryst with love in the Darjeeling tea plantations, and the other is a wretched suitor's attempts to wrest his beloved from the grips of a fraud. These films were intended to be screened as a double bill showing Ray's funny witticism and experimental zeal.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium)
Attempting to examine the difference between what is intellectual and what is popular, this is a film where a young strapping journalist (Sharmila Tagore) finds herself stuck on a 24 hour train journey from Kolkata to Delhi, with a movie star (Uttam Kumar). This was serendipitous casting because Uttam Kumar was the reigning actor of the time. Ray defended this decision, a decisive turn towards popular culture, "If you are showing a matinee idol, then you have to cast a star."
Streaming Platform: Eros Now, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream, Youtube
A murder-mustery starring Uttam Kumar as Byomkesh Bakshi, this was considered one of Ray's least liked films. Ray took up this film only after his AD who was directing it requested him to finish it. Ray himself admitted to his biographer Andrew Robinson, that he had accepted the movie willy-nilly, "Chiriyakhana's a whodunit, and whodunits just don't make good films. I prefer the thriller form where you more or less know the villain from the beginning. The whodunit always has this ritual concluding scene where the detective goes into a rigmarole of how everything happened, and how he found the clues which led him to the criminal. It's a form that doesn't interest me very much."
Streaming Platform: BongFlix
A fairy tale where two village boys (Tapan Chatterjee, Rabi Ghosh) set out on an adventure, this is Ray's melange of folk, classical, and popular music and dance. So popular it became that Ray himself later wrote to actress Marie Seton, "It is extraordinary how quickly it has become part of popular culture. Really there isn't a single child who doesn't know and sing the songs"
Streaming Platform: YouTube (Dadbhai), BongFlix
Ray's Renoir-eque masterpiece is about four young men (Soumitra Chatterjee, Subhendu Chatterjee, Samit Bhanja, Rabi Ghosh) traveling from Calcutta to rural Bihar, whose arrogance leads them to adventure and disaster
Pauline Kael, the New Yorker critic had written, "Ray's films can give rise to a more complex feeling of happiness in me than the work of any other director…No artist has ever done more than Satyajit Ray to make us re-evaluate the commonplace."
Streaming Platform: BongFlix
Set amidst the Naxal movement in Bengal, this is a political and empathetic look at a young man (Dhritiman Chatterjee) caught in the cross currents. Pauline Kael called this "Ray's funniest, most piercing film". This was the first of Ray's "Calcutta Trilogy".
The second film in Ray's "Calcutta Trilogy", this is a satire on the American-styled business world of Calcutta. It won the FIPRESCI Award (International Federation of Film Critics) at the 33rd Venice International Film Festival.
Streaming Platform: YouTube (Bengali Movies- Angel Digital)
This was a documentary commissioned by then ruler of Sikkim Chogyal and his American wife Hope Cook. Ray took two trips to Sikkim, which Ray considered one of the most beautiful places under the Himalayas, one to shoot the festival of Lama Dancing in Sikkim in December, and then in May, "for the flowers, for the orchids, for the rhododendrons," as he describes it. This is a documentary about the landscape, but it's also about the people- the royalty, the army, "and the common people gambling, and eating and dancing and archery contests"
This is a short documentary film made by Ray on Benode Behari Mukherjee, the blind artist and a teacher at the Visva-Bharati University. It follows his routine, and how he created a mural despite his visual handicap.
Streaming Platform: Youtube (Bengali Movies With English Subtitles), Erosnow, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream
A searing film on the 1942 Bengali famine that killed over five million people, it shows the devastation through the eyes of a Bengali Brahmin teacher-doctor (Soumitra Chatterjee). Today the film features in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), Erosnow, AirtelXstream
A pulpy, entertaining tale of a child who suffers from flashbacks to previous lives in an ancient time. Aided by the master detective Feluda (Soumitra Chatterjee), he journeys to Rajasthan, a combination of children's adventure tales and detective fiction.
The last among Ray's "Calcutta Trilogy", Ray even considered this to be one of his darker and more cynical films. About an educated, urban middle class youth (Pradip Mukherjee) and his search for a job, it was shot in the early days of Indira Gandhi's Emergency.
This was a short documentary on dancer Balasaraswati, who according to Ray was "the greatest Bharatanatyam dancer ever". Jointly produced by National Centre for the Performing Arts and Government of Tamil Nadu, this showed the dancer who was then 58 years old. Ray had first seen her performing in Kolkata in 1935, when she was only seventeen years old.
Streaming Platform: Disney+Hotstar, Google Play, AirtelXstream, Amazon Prime
Richly shot in technicolour, this is a story of two zamindars (Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey) playing a game of chess, oblivious of the world that is changing around them in 1856, on the eve of the mutiny. This was Ray's first historical film, and also his first Hindi feature film.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), MUBI (For May 2021)
The second film on Feluda, Ray's detective is in Benaras this time. Like the previous Feluda film, this too is atmospheric, and set in a city that is outside Bengal.
Streaming Platform: Zee5 (Premium), Erosnow, JioCinema, Hoichoi, AirtelXstream
Ray's giddily inventive, colorful, and music-filled version of the children's film, this is the sequel to the 1969 film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. Here, the heroes (Tapan Chatterjee, Rabi Ghosh) find themselves in a diamond-rich realm ruled by a tyrant who forces everyone to rhyme.
This was a Bengali short film Ray directed for a French television channel. It is about the life of a six year old against the backdrop of his mother's (Aparna Sen) infidelity. Ray said in his biography that, when Henri Fraise approached him to make a film, he briefed Ray by saying "[…] you can place your camera at your window and shoot the house next-door—we will accept that."
Streaming Platform: YouTube (Prasar Bharati Archives)
Based on Premchand's story this was Ray's first telefilm for Doordarshan. Starring Om Puri as a dalit man, this is a deeply angry film about the excesses of caste violence.
Streaming Platform: CinemasOfIndia
Based on Rabindranath Tagore's classic 1905 Bengali novel, this film examines one woman's (Swatilekha Sengupta) search for independence, while a nation fights for its freedom. Featuring the first full-fledged kiss in Ray's films, this film did very well commercially. Ray's son Sandip Ray had completed the film, after, in 1983, during the shooting of the film, Ray had suffered two massive heart attacks.
This was a short documentary film Satyajit Ray made on his father, Sukumar Ray for his birth centenary. The thirty minute documentary features the life and some of the works – photography, paintings, readings – by Sukumar Ray.
Streaming Platform: CinemasofIndia
Ray's return to feature films after he decided to take a break after surviving two heart attacks, takes on a familiar theme in his filmography- religion, and science adapting Henrik Ibsen's play. This film is about how a doctor (Soumitra Chatterjee) discovers that the water from the local temple is the source of the alarming spread of jaundice. Ganashatru is known to be the polarizing film of Ray's filmography, with some considering it his worst, while others finding in it verbose beauty.
Streaming Platform: CinemasOfIndia
Based on Ray's own short story this was his last film, an Indo-French production about a couple (Deepankar De, Mamata Shankar) who are visited by the wife's long-lost uncle (Utpal Dutt). As described by the Film Society of Lincoln Center this film is "an extraordinary summing up of so much of Ray's worldview"