The paris review has details about this lesser known fact. It is not just Indian students and immigrants who are exploited by US industry but also someone as great as Satyajit Ray was conned by Americans.

  • As is by now well known, Hollywood—real, old-timey, cigar-chomping, tush-squeezing, cocktails-in-the-back-of-the-limousine Hollywood—was and is a loathsome place. Imagine an elaborate machine designed to suck the marrow out of an art form and turn it into money—you got it, buddy! And if you were a talented, eagle-eyed filmmaker from the subcontinent, well, forget about it, they’d eat your soul. Or try to, anyway. In 1967, Satyajit Ray, who’d directed the Apu trilogy in India, visited Hollywood in hopes of realizing his latest film, The Alien, which Columbia Pictures had agreed to bankroll. Roy expected a degree of autonomy; instead he confronted “the hum of machinery in my ears” as he was chauffeured around Los Angeles and asked to sign away the rights to his own screenplay. The movie was never made—but later, after Ray’s screenplay had been circulating in California for decades, traces of it showed up in films like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Abhrajyoti Chakraborty writes, “Where Ray wrote his own screenplays, preferred to operate the camera as often as possible, composed his own music, designed publicity posters and fonts, the studios of the West Coast were known for the scale of their operations and compartmentalized efficiency, so that by the time a film went to the floors its appeal for different audiences would have been sorted out, and everyone in the cast and crew—from the director to the actors to the set workers and sound technicians, all protected by their respective unions—everyone worked in fixed roles to advance that appeal. What has worked once will work again, the Hollywood credo went; prior success was desirable because it could be endlessly replicated. Hollywood, like every longstanding establishment, had a house-style guide.”


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