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India’s Ray Hospitalized, Misses Oscar Ceremony Honoring Him With AM-Oscars, Bjt

March 31, 1992

CALCUTTA, India (AP) _ Ailing filmmaker Satyajit Ray said from his hospital bed Monday night that he was grateful for the special Oscar for lifetime achievement that honors his 36-year, 30-film career.

″I have nothing more to expect,″ said the 70-year-old director, who had to miss the Academy Awards ceremony altogether because the hospital where he is being treated for a heart ailment does not have cable television.

″I am very happy receiving Oscar. It is the highest award in the film world. I am grateful,″ Ray told Indian TV in an interview broadcast Monday.

India’s highest civilian honor - the Bharat Ratna, or Gem of India award - was conferred on Ray last Friday for ″distinguished and excellent services″ to Indian cinema. The award normally is given to politicians and national leaders.

Ray’s films - all but one in Bengali, language of his native West Bengal state - include such classics as ″Pather Panchali″ (Song of the Road, 1955), the first in a trilogy of films about Apu, son of a poor village scholar.

Because his illness would not allow Ray to travel to the Oscar ceremony, the golden statuette was presented to him in the hospital March 16. Ray closed his eyes and clutched his Oscar as he thanked his industry colleagues on videotape from his hospital bed.

″Well, it’s an extraordinary experience for me to be here tonight to receive this magnificent award, certainly the best achievement in my moviemaking career,″ he said.

He noted that he once wrote actress Ginger Rogers to express his interest in motion pictures. ″I didn’t get a reply,″ Ray said, eliciting chuckles from the audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

″I wrote a 12-page letter to Billy Wilder after seeing ‘Double Indemnity.’ He didn’t reply, either,″ Ray said to laughs. ″Well, there you are.″

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Ray was honored for his ″rare mastery of the art of motion pictures.″

Ray also has distinguished himself as a music composer, painter and a writer of children’s stories and detective fiction.

He has said that his films are neither typical Indian movies nor ″art films,″ but have a universal message whose essence is ″the human element.″

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