MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH RAY'S CHARULATA
Elle India|June 2021
Designer Pranay Baidya vividly describes his emotions and inspirations drawn from celebrated filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s cinematic masterpiece, Charulata
Pranay Baidya

Ray took us on a journey through his marvellous cinematic storytelling—of a woman’s artistic and romantic yearning

Growing up in a quintessential Bengali home in Calcutta, my interests in the arts and fashion took root early on, thanks to my dida (maternal grandmother). The lady had impeccable taste in music, cinema, sarees and everything in between. As I grew older, my creative pursuits bloomed—I would spend hours just unfolding and exploring sarees, shawls and fabrics from old fashioned steel almirahs and vintage muslin-laced trunks; fascinated with each new discovery of colour pairings, motifs and fabric textures. My grandmother and mother proudly possessed a burgeoning sari collection, in every possible Indian weave!

While other boys my age would be busy playing sports after school hours, I could hardly wait to rush back home! In no time one would find me happily tucked in under a hand-embroidered, silk kantha (an upcycled throw made by patching together several layers of saris and bound together by a geometric maze of running stitches with colourful cotton thread), laying down next to my dida on a daybed. We spent many languid afternoons in that room, listening to music by Hemanta Mukherjee on the cassette player or watching one of Satyajit Ray’s classics on the VCR player and television.

Looking back, I can profess without an iota of doubt, that my love for cinema, music, costumes and design galvanised and flourished during these simple yet impressionable childhood moments. On one such rainswept mid-summer afternoon, I distinctly remember being bewitched by the sights, sounds and costumes of Charulata, and feeling inspired to write, read and embroider just as Charu did in the film.

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