Very few Indians have been honoured by what is commonly considered the highest honour in cinema around the globe – the Oscar awards. One of the most proclaimed Indian filmmakers Satyajit Ray was honoured by the Academy at the 64th Academy Awards in 1992 with the Honorary Award but Ray could not be there in person to collect his award in person owing to his ill health.
At the time, Ray was hospitalised in Kolkata and could not fly to Los Angeles but a video message from the auteur was shown at the ceremony in Dolby Theatre. Ray’s award was announced by actor Audrey Hepburn who described his work as a “rare mastery of the art of motion pictures and his profound humanism which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.”
Ray’s video has him lying in a hospital bed with his Oscar statuette in his hand as he gives his speech. “It’s an extraordinary experience for me to be here tonight to receive this magnificent award, certainly the best achievement of my moviemaking career,” he said.
Ray spoke about the impact that American cinema had on his filmmaking journey. He said, “I have learnt everything about the craft of cinema from the making of American films. I’ve been watching American films very carefully over the years and I love them for how they entertain and then later, loved them for what they taught so I express my gratitude to the American cinema, towards the Motion Picture Association who has given me this award and who made me feel so proud.”
The ceremony in 1992 was held on March 30 and less than a month later, on April 23, Ray passed away at the age of 70 in Kolkata. To date, Ray is the only Indian to have been honoured with an Honorary Award.
Ray is known as one of the finest filmmakers in the world and is remembered for his films like Pather Panchali, Charulata, Mahanagar, Sonar Kella, Shatranj Ke Khiladi among others.