50 Years of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne

50 years ago, on May 8th 1969, Satyajit Ray‘s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne saw the light of the day…

… A film that Ray reportedly wanted to make based on his favorite story to create something exclusively for children, but obviously it became something much larger with deep subtext and a wide universal appeal…

… A film that was adapted for screen based on a children’s book written by Ray’s stalwart grandfather Upendrakishore Roy Chowdhury decades ago, but only after Ray made some significant changes to it for a more interesting cinematic experience…

… A film that was almost getting shelved because of budget issues, until Poornima Pictures stepped in and stood rock solid behind it! In the process however Ray had to give up the thought of making the film in colour as he didn’t give in to the demand of a larger production house to cast a hindi film actor as the lead…

… A film, which when released, ran for 33 weeks at a stretch in Kolkata, and even the only English subtitled print ran for full house at Globe for 4 straight weeks! The film went on to become one of Ray’s most commercially successful films…

… A film that became iconic for the tin bor-er gappo by Bhuter Raja and the six and a half minute long spectacular bhuter naach which is a treat to watch even today after such technical advances, but something that was also criticised back then for being too long a sequence…

… A film where one of the lead characters Goopy was amongst the last ones to be cast because Ray was not finding the right person.. Ray always knew that Rabi Ghosh would play Bagha from the time he conceptualized the film, but it took a while for Tapen Chatterjee to fit into the shoes of Goopy and take the flight (pun intended), all this after Ray’s favourite actor Soumitra Chatterjee insisted with him several times to play the role, but to Ray he didn’t have the innocence of Goopy, the simpleton village singer….

… A film with a soundtrack (composed by Ray himself) as interesting as the film itself, because well the film was about two wasted musicians who acquired special powers to captivate everyone with their craft, a soundtrack that also pushed Anup Ghoshal to glory like magic …

… A film that happened, and hence ensured that the spectacular Hirak Rajar Deshe followed after some years, to further take forward the story series of healing musicians pitted against dreadful kings at times of war…

… A film, which was a musical, a satire, a fantasy at the same time, one that in a garb of being a children’s film, spoke of much deeper things for complicated adults, most importantly the unifying message of peace over the futility of war and divisive politics, a message more relevant in today’s times like never before…

… A film for which we can say only one thing for the legend…

Maharaja Tomare Selaam….

 

(The film is available on YouTube with subtitles, although this one, like many other Ray classics, demands to be a must have part of one’s personal video libraries.

A bengali book is also available about the film commemorative of its 50 years, that includes the original story by Upendrakishore Roy Chowdhury, Satyajit Ray’s script for the film, and memoirs of many artists associated with the film and its journey. It is a recommended possession as well.)

 


Copyright ©2019 Jayashree Chakravarti. This article cannot be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL can be used instead.

 

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