Satyajit Ray and Chabi Biswas
By: CR Chatterji.
Chabi Biswas was considered to be the greatest actor ever to grace Bengali cinema and according to Satyajit Ray, there was no other actor in Indian screen having the same standard of dynamic personality which Chabi Biswas had. Ray gave Chabi Biswas the role of the feudal lord in the film Jashaghar.
Jalsaghar portrayed the decline of the zamindari system in Bengal. On one hand zamindars like Chabi Biswas lost their property and new businessman with lot of wealth emerged in that period. Chabi Biswas at the end of the film, sold the jewellery of his wife who died before, to launch a singer from northern India to perform in his house and he killed himself while riding on horseback before seeing the end of his zamindari and the dominance in the area.
Satyajit Ray utilised the aristocracy of Chabi Biswas in the film Kanchenjungha. The film had an abstract subject which involved the realisation of the greatness of nature including the Himalayas. All the characters in the film who had come to see Kanchenjungha, disclosed whatever was there in their mind due to the charming environment. Chabi Biswas, a big industrialist, was lost in his dominant nature, his aristocracy, and he was amazed when a needy young gentlemen played by Arun Mukherjee even told him that he never required a job, when Chabi Biswas could offer him the job. He realised the greatness of nature at the end of the film.
Satyajit Ray experimented with Chabi Biswas in the film Debi, where he got dream which showed that his daughter-in-law was the human form of Goddess Kali. Sharmila Tagore was the daughter-in-law and after seeing the dream he started worshipping her like Goddess. It led to mental depression and anxiety of Sharmila and the entire family was involved in resolving the problem which was based on belief.
Chabi Biswas got international acclamation for his epic performance in films like Kabuliwala, Headmaster, Dadathakur, Shashibabur Sangsar, etc., and it was tragedy that he lost his life in a fatal accident in 1962, which brought an end to his dynamic career. Otherwise viewers could have seen more experiments of Satyajit Ray with the greatest actor on silver screen named Chabi Biswas.