Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stories of Satyajit Ray

Wide dimension of Stories of Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray image courtsey:

According to intellectual critics of modern literature, Satyajit Ray had made memorable explorations into the twilight territories of the peculiar and the supernatural. Some of his extraordinary tales can send shivers up the spine, ensure everyone to keep the lights on when anyone goes to bed at night, and occasionally allow someone the luxury of nervous laughter.

In the story titled ‘Bhuto’, a ventriloquist’s dummy slowly but surely turns malign and more human than its master (1); in ‘The Pterodactyl’s Egg’(2) we meet a man who claims to have devised a way to travel, economy-class, into the fourth dimension; in ‘Anath Babu’s terror’ a ghost-hunter finds himself stalked by his terrifying quarry; and in ‘Shibu and the Monster’, a schoolboy has to figure out whether his mathematics teacher is really a demon or not (3).

In the Story “Ghurghutiar Ghatana” there was a person residing at Ghurghutia, a moffusil town in West Bengal who had a wide collection of Novels and Books which were expensive and not easily available in the market. He maintained a locker which had a German Lock which could be opened only by combination. These types of locks were used during the time of Second World War where only the owner can know the exact combination of numbers and open the lock. The Central Character of the story made his parrot memorise the combination of the lock through a small poetic verse which in Bengali is termed “ Heyali”. The Parrot used to say “Trinayan O Trinayan Ektu Jiro”, which in Bengali meant , the person with three eyes, please rest for sometime. His son kidnapped the father but could not understand the implication of the heyali. Feluda , the Private Investigator was invited from Kolkata to find out what the parrot meant through those lines. The deal was that if Feluda succeeds in doing so the expensive novels will be given to him as reward. Feluda, recollected the period when India was under the colonial rule and The British Government ruled the country from the Capital Calcutta. At that time the British Generals maintained a number of Hindustani sepoys who used to speak in Hindi. When the British people failed to order them to close the door, they used to say “there is a brown crow” meaning “ darwaza bandh karo”. Feluda picked up that message and solved the puzzle about the verse of the parrot. Feluda said “ Trinayan O Trinayan Ektu jiro” means “three nine zero three nine eight two zero”. That was exactly the number with which the lock could be opened .There are other aspects of the story which was solved by Prodosh Mitra, but the thrill of suspense and inquisitiveness of the readers was kept intact while presentation of the story.

For several decades now, Satyajit Ray’s tales about unusual happenings and bizarre characters rooted in familiar surroundings have both regaled and terrified his readers, young and old alike. They include ‘The Hungry Septopus’ (4), a carnivorous plant with a monstrous appetite, ‘Barin Bhowmick’, a kleptomaniac who is taken back several years by a chance encounter on a train, ‘Patol Babu’, an amateur actor for whom a walk-on part in a movie turns into the ultimate challenge, ‘Bipin Chowdhury’, who seems to be suffering from a most disagreeable form of amnesia, ‘Bonku Babu’, a mofussil schoolteacher who is visited one night by a friendly and somewhat awkward alien,‘Ashamanja Babu’s Dog’, who bursts out laughing one morning ‘Anath Babu’, a ghost hunter who finds himself being stalked by his terrifying quarry and many, many more unforgettable characters.

Following the huge success of his telefilms, Satyajit Ray Presents 1 and 2, Feluda-30 and Dr. Munshir Diary based on a bunch of Satyajit Ray’s widely-read short stories, Sandip Ray has made a tele-film Satyajiter Gappo-2 which was telecast on DD-1 and 7 (National channel) as a tribute to the maestro’s 80th birth anniversary. The interesting feature of that experiment lied in its freshness and novelty as it mostly concentrated on bizarre contours of everyday life, human values found in its natural splendour and conflicts and complex situations.

In the Film “ Joy-Baba Felunath”, 1978, Satyajit Ray created a case where an expensive Idol of Ganesha ( The Elephant god of the Hindus) is stolen from the House of Mr. Ghoshal in Benaras (5). The grandson of Mr. Ghoshal was told to tell everyone that the Idol is with the king of Africa. Actually there was a Durga Murti being made in the same house and Devi Durga’s Bahon which was a Lion , ( The King of Africa) , where the idol was kept hidden with gum. Bikash , an orphan in that house who was brought up in the Ghoshal Family stole it and gave it to Maganlal MeghRaj , ( a rich marwari businessman) having house in Gyanbapi in Benaras. He was supposed to smuggle the idol through a Sadhubaba ( Machlibaba) at the shores of the Ganges in Benaras. Feluda intervened and arrested Maganlal Meghraj and solved the mystery. The performance of Utpal Dutta, a brilliant figure of Bengali stage and Indian films was extra ordinary. The location of Benaras, the bhajans that were picturised in the film and the synchronization of the sequences was brilliant(6). It is a pity, that Ray did not have the time to make films on most of his literature in the form of short stories, Detective stories, Suspense Thrillers and Stories of Diverse categories. The literature of Ray should be revisited to understand the diversity of the range of topics, science base, technicality, educative subject matters, human values that Ray used to handle in the span of 35 years.



Ventriloquism means the art of making one’s dummy talk when his master is the actual talker. There are certain letters the pronounciation of which does not require lip movement. For example if a Ventriquist says “ Mohunbagan” he will pronounce it ( nononbagan) because the letter n does not require lip movement.


Ptrodactyle is a prehistoric bord appearing duing the time when Human Beings did not appear in the earth. I moving specimen is evident in the Science City at Kolkata.


Satyajit Ray was born on 2 May 1921 in Calcutta. After graduating from Presidency College, Calcutta, he studied art at Rabindranath Tagore's University “Biswabharati” in Santiniketan. He won numerous awards for his films. He was honored with the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement by the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences and bestowed with India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.


Septopus is an organism similar to Octopus. Octopus has eight tentacles, Septopus has seven. In the relevant story the author’s dog was eaten up by the Septopus and that had made the owner ( A Scientist fascinated with plants and orchids) kill the Septopus with his rifle because it had become carnivorous.


Joybaba Felunath released in 1977 won the Best Feature Film Award, Hongkong Film Festival, 1979.


My Father, the then Chdief Public Prosecutor, Bankshall Court ( Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, Kolkata) when made a submission in the Sandip Ray case on Manuscripts of Ray, mentioned that Ray’s property is National Property and should be only kept in Archive maintained in Nandan for future generations to develop their knowledge base on the fields Ray had worked on. The ACMM Mridul Ray said Sandip Ray should maintain the rich legacy of his father by creating the same standard of excellence in the creative arts which he is handling now. It is reported in The Statesman, The Telergraph and other notable newspapers in 1994.

Article By: Souvik Chatterji
Assistant Director
CUTS International,
Centre for Competition, Investment & Economic Regulation
D-217, Bhaskar Marg,
Bani Park, Jaipur 302 016, India
Ph: 91.141.2282821 (Board)

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