Comedy characters in the films of Satyajit Ray.
Satyajit Ray had experimented with diversified subjects in the films he directed over 35 years. Due to reserve personality viewers have a feeling that he hardly experimented with comedy sequences. In fact the presentation of comedy sequences in most cases amazed noted film critics of the western world.
His character Lalmohan Ganguly, played by Santosh Dutta, in the film Sonar Kella, (the Golden Fortress) attracted the attention of intellectual viewers. He was a writer of detective novels, yet provided erroneous information to his readers. He gave wrong information about where a camel stores its water, and that was rectified by Soumitra Chatterji, who played the role of Feluda, the private investigator in the film. Santosh Dutta ultimately got an opportunity to ride on camelback in his way from Pokran to Ramdewra in Rajasthan in the film, and got sever body ache after the ride.
In Joy Baba Felunath, the other film of Ray, Santosh Dutta, refused to drink the juice that was offered to him by Utpal Dutt, in the role of Maganlal Meghraj, a rich businessman of Benaras. Inspite of his reluctance, Utpal Dutt compelled him to face a show of knives being thrown at a target with Santosh Dutta standing in the middle of the target. Santosh Dutta, played a very significant part in Ray’s film Goopi Gayin Bagha Bayin, where he played the role of the two brothers of two separate kingdoms, who were twins. On of them were dictated terms by the diwan played by Jahar Roy.
In Uttam Kumar’s Nayak, there was a scene where the Rajdhani Express had stopped in a station and Sharmila Tagore was talking with Uttam Kumar in the Cantene. From the windows, the presence of Uttam Kumar was felt, and as he was one of the most popular icons of his time, the crowd made gestures and became wild to see him, which made life uncomfortable for Sharmila Tagore, who was not used to facing such situations.
In Paraspathor, tulsi Chakravarty played the role of a middleclass Bengali who got a typical stone which could turn any material into gold. When a rich businessman asked him about the formula, he asked him to note it down, it was “holde sabuj orangotang, it patkel chitpotang”, meaning Yellow-green monkey, stones-pebbles and slipping down on the floor. Most of the humour of Ray, existed in his script, and he created a revolution in terms of converting rich literary texts into scripts fit for story-telling of epic films. It is not possible to highlight the comedy characters of Rays’ films in a short article, but all these films had become learning texts for new filmmakers and should be restored as masterpieces symbolising Indian creative arts.
By: CR Chatterji.