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Satyajit Ray's real life love story was Bollywood-like

By Nikhil Agarwal

Kolkata, Oct 25: Culminating in a happy ending but only after some unexpected twists and turns, legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's real-life love story, revealed now by his wife, was nothing short of a typical Bollywood drama. In her recently released autobiography "Manik and I", the late director's wife Bijoya Ray recalls how the couple dated for eight long years, married secretly and then made a clever plan to convince the two families for the match.

In the book published by Penguin, Bijoya recalls that she was friends with the Oscar-winning director, nicknamed Manik, since her teenage days but it was only in 1940 that they began to develop romantic feelings for each other while listening to music together every night. Madly in love, the couple initially thought they would never be able to marry as their families wouldn't agree to the relationship.

"He was younger than me and a close relative. Marriage was therefore out of the question. The two of us decided to never marry. We wanted our lives to continue the way they were," Bijoya writes. And when she shifted to Mumbai to find roles in films, Ray, who then used to work in an advertising agency, would write love letters and would often travel all the way from Kolkata to meet his girlfriend.

As Satyajit Ray and Bijoya kept going out on dates regularly, their bonding deepened and came the realisation that marriage was inevitable. When they planned a registry marriage in Mumbai without the knowledge of Ray's family, Bijoya's mother disapproved of the idea.

Without paying heed to her views, the duo got married at the house of Bijoya's sister on Mar 3, 1949. At a small reception, even legendary theatre and film actor Prithviraj Kapoor and his wife came to bless the newly-weds. "I had never imagined that I would actually get married to Manik. And when it did happen, we were torn between happiness and pain, as we knew we had to keep our marriage a secret. We couldn't even live together," she writes.

In the meantime, Ray, best known for his Apu trilogy, confided everything to their family friend and physician Nosho Babu, who made a clever plan to convince his mother for accepting the marriage. Without revealing that they are already married, Ray declared that he would not marry anyone but Bijoya. Reluctantly and after much persuasion, Ray's mother agreed and the couple got married once again on Oct 20, 1949 but this time in Bengali rituals. "I was overjoyed. After believing I would never be able to marry him, here I was, getting married twice!"


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