Mini Intro: Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is a refreshing, fun film for children of all ages. The film ran to packed houses in Bengal for a record fifty-one weeks and was by far the most commercially successful Ray film. Tapen Chatterjee, then a newcomer, admirably plays the role of Goopy and Rabi Ghosh, an experienced performer, plays Bagha in this musical fantasy occupied by ghosts, kings, crafty ministers, soldiers, magicians, generals, courtiers, princesses, horses, and tigers.
About six months after its release in Bengal, ray wrote to Marie Seton, “It is extraordinary how quickly it has become part of popular culture. Really there isn’t a single child in the city who doesn’t know and sing the songs (from the film).” The film was not well received abroad, though. Andrew Robinson, Ray’s biographer attributes this to its legends, dialogues, wit, and lyrics that cannot be translated effectively. The movie derives its inspiration from Ray’s grandfather – Upendrakishore Ray’s story – ‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’. Ray carefully designed its characters and composed the music.
Download: Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne
Cast and Role:
|Tapen Chatterjee||As Gupi Gayen|
|Rabi Ghosh||Bagha Bayen|
|Santosh Dutta||As King of Shundi/King of Halla|
|Harindranath Chattopadhyay||As Borfi (The Magician)|
|Govinda Chakravarti||Goopy’s father|
|Gopal Dey||As Executioner|
|Santi Chatterjee||As commander of Halla army|
|Jahor Roy||Prime Minister of Halla|
|Ajoy Bannerjee||As visitor to Halla|
|Tarun Mitra||Court singer at Shundi|
|Chinmoy Roy||As spy of Halla|
What do I conclude after watching Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969)?
Pathar Panchali in particular, and Apu Trilogy, in general, might be his most internationally famous work, but if you ask any Bengali-speaking Ray expert, more often than not you’ll find Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is THE movie they all like to remember him by. On the one hand this timeless classic was a delightful children’s fantasy filled with humor, adventure and magic, while on the other it was a fine yet powerful statement on the absurdities of war, brought forth through high satire and sharp insight – things that only grownups would be able to appreciate.
The tale, adapted from a short story by his grandfather, is about two young, simple-nature guys – Goopy and Bagha, who upon getting banished from their respective villages, end up being awarded three magical boons, including, among others, the ability to spellbind people with their music. This wonderfully charming movie stands out as a clear explanation of Ray’s unmatched versatility – not just in terms of seamlessly traversing across genres, themes and tonalities, but also in the auteur’s ability to don a staggering number of hats over and above that of a director’s.
Apart from directing, writing the screenplay, and composing the background score for the movie – things he did for nearly all his movies, he also wrote and composed a plethora of unforgettable songs, as well as designed the costumes of the characters! The acting by every single member of the cast was outstanding – especially Tapen Chatterjee as Goopy, the inimitable Rabi Ghosh as Bagha, Santosh Dutta in the double role of long-lost twin brothers and kings about to go to war with each other, and Jahar Roy as an evil minister. The movie also employed special effects – as in the breathtaking “Dance of Ghosts” sequence, which was breathtaking given the movie’s budget as well as the era it was made in.
As far as the performances are concerned, it was Tapen Chatterjee’s debut film. He was perfect as the simple guy with a kind heart. Rabi Ghosh was Ray’s one of my favorite stars. He is simply outstanding in his role as the drummer, Bagha. The rest of the cast suits their role.
The Story of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne
It’s a story about Goopy and Bagha. Goopy loves to sing but, unfortunately, he knows only one song and the moment he opens his mouth, people run away including the cattle. He is given the name Goopy Gyne ( the one who sings). The villagers are fed up and ask him to leave the place. We are introduced to Bagha who loves to play the dholak and the sound that he emits while playing the dholak resembles that of a tiger and he is named Bagha Byne ( one resembling a tiger). The people of his village are fed up with him and ask him to leave as well.
It is in a forest where both have retreated so that they meet each other – scared initially by the other person’s skills- both hear each other’s sound and fear that it is the noise created by an animal. They decide to reach the kingdom of Shundi and display their talents to the king. They are adventures till they reach the place- being on a ferry, reaching a forest populated by ghosts, receiving gifts of magical nature from them and their adventures at the king’s palace are quite entertaining and keeps the reader mesmerized. Their adventures do not end in the kingdom of Shundi and kudos to Roy Chowdhury for this magical journey which later on his grandson Satyajit Ray made a film on in 1969.
The story comments on the appreciation an artist receives and to what extent an artist is free to display one work. Goopy and Bagha have been shown to be completely in love with singing and playing the dholak respectively but all it does for others is to create problems. The interesting point in Bagha’s case is that the villagers convince the father to let Bagha play the dholak as it is a matter of pride for them to have such a skilled artist amongst them but it’s this very artist that becomes a nuisance for them when he plays the dholak day and night. The society that encourages a work of art can turn against it if it causes any trouble to them. Given the present times in which we are living, there are a lot of Goopys and Baghas whom we have shunned as we do not give cognizance to their talent and hold on to our concepts of what constitutes a work of art.
Roy Chowdhury has written a story that finds resonance even today and although he used the medium of fantasy to bring forth the issue at hand, it strikes a chord when one reads this short story. The ghosts and later the king of Halla in this story are the only ones who appreciate their form of art and reward them for their talent.
Awards and Accolades:
- Award for Best Direction, New Delhi, 1968
- Best Featured Film at 16th National Film Awards
- President’s Gold and Silver Medals, New Delhi, 1970
- Silver Cross, Adelaide, 1969
- Best Director, Auckland, 1969
- Merit Award, Tokyo, 1970
- Best Film, Melbourne, 1970
The special effects are definitely not like that of Hollywood films of the era. The six-and-a-half-minute ghost dance in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is a scene to watch out for. The imaginative energy of visualization and execution makes the sequence a visual and aural treat. Ray combines live-action, shadow puppets, and Indian percussion instruments –Ghatam, Mridangam, Mursring, and Ganjra to create a mesmerizing sequence.
Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is about many things – it’s about the strange and complex interactions between kings and commoners, about underdogs who triumph in the end, and about the value of good companionship (Goopy and Bagha must stay together if they want to continue availing of the ghost’s boons). But most of all it’s about two little heroes who want nothing much more than to “please people with our music” – though it doesn’t hurt that in the best fairy-tale style they also end up winning the hands of beautiful princesses along the way! It’s one of the most timeless films I’ve seen.
It is one of the best Bengali movies of all time and is always included in the list of top old Bengali comedy movies. There is more to Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne than just a children’s film. It presents a political scenario where administrators can exploit common men. The movie also narrates the power of magic. There are certain things that are beyond human caliber. Man cannot put everything right. The magical powers of the protagonists symbolize honesty, integrity, simplicity, the strength of character, and uprightness. These are the weapons with which man can fight corruption and evolve as a winner. (Stay tuned with us for more reviews)
Download: Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne
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