Anshula’s most favourite pastime is watching old movies and songs. Satyajit Ray’s iconic musical Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne was thus an instant choice when asked to contribute to Ray@100 series. 😊
Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is a film directed by Satyajit Ray. Starring Tapen Chatterjee (as Goopy) and Rabi Ghosh (as Bagha), it’s a story about two musicians – Goopy, a singer and Bagha, a drummer who are thrown out of their villages Amloki and Hortuki, respectively by their kings.
In the film, the things I liked the most were first, the songs which had very funny lyrics. The film is full of suspense and every dialogue and scene is unforgettable.
Let us get a small glimpse of the film. As I already said, Goopy and Bagha the two musicians are banished to the forest because of singing or playing the dhol just for their own pleasure. But then there is a twist in their destiny.
The King of Ghosts (‘Bhooter Raja’ in Bengali) gives them three boons. First, whatever food they would like to eat or any clothes they would like to wear would come to them instantly if they clap each other’s hand (or what we now call a High Five).
Second, whenever or wherever they start singing, no listener will be able to move.
Third, by wearing the magic pair of shoes given to them by the King of Ghosts whichever place they would wish aloud, they could go instantly after clapping their hands of course. Just think, if these types of boons or dreams come true, then what will remain in life to worry about? Everything would be in our own hands.
Now let’s talk about the kings of Shundi and Halla, the twins. Both of them (played by Santosh Dutta in a double role) are very kind and decent but the King of Halla has been brainwashed by his evil minister and a magician. That’s the reason, Halla wants war and Shundi wants peace. Goopy and Bagha both go to the King of Shundi where they sing the song Maharaja tomare selam (Salutations, your highness) at the music competition. Listening to their song everyone including the king becomes a statue. Only when Goopy claps thrice to break the spell, everyone starts dancing with joy and happiness.
The scene I liked the most is the one where the King of Shundi falls asleep while listening to all the classical songs of the participating musicians. His crown, which looks more like an oversized cushion topples from his head when Goopy’s song ends and the king starts jumping up and down, almost like a bhangra.
Maharaja, tomare selam
When the King of Halla sends a letter to the King of Shundi declaring war or asking him to surrender, the King of Shundi feels tensed up about his brother. Then, Goopy and Bagha come forward to help the king by going to Halla as his spies. At that time, the King of Shundi says he will give his daughter Monimala in marriage to one of them. Then Bagha starts dreaming about the princess as his wife. Just when they are starting their journey to Halla, both of them see her standing at her balcony.
When the evil minister of Halla tries to arrest them, Goopy and Bagha fool the minister and the magician and escape by singing, which freezes them into statues. The best song in the film for me is Ore Goopy re, chol bhege podi chupi chupi re (Goopy, let’s quietly sneak out and run from here) and the funniest and best line in the song is Mundu gele khabo ta ki? Mundu chhada banchbo na ki? (How will I eat without my head? I won’t be able to live without my head). Bagha is more worried about how he will eat without his head, forgetting that he wouldn’t even live if the head is knocked off! But to Bagha, eating is top priority!
And then the unforgettable song O montri moshai shorojontri moshai thhemey thak (Oh Mr Minister, Mr Conspirator, stop where you are) where both of them, using their magical power of singing, escape right under the nose of the evil minster and take away the medicine made by the magician for making dumb people speak.
O re Halla Rajar sena
But the one thing I disliked most was the starvation of people in Halla. When Goopy and Bagha clap to order sweets for all the soldiers, the starving soldiers forget all about the minister and run for the sweets. The evil minister cannot provide food to the people of the kingdom because he is too busy trying to grab as much power as he can by giving the king a medicine that makes him very cruel and follow the minister’s commands blindly.
All soldiers run for the sweets like mad, and the minister frantically tries to stop them. When somehow the ‘Montri moshai’ catches hold of a pot of sweets, his luck runs out and someone puts his foot on the pot and the pot breaks.
Bhooter Nach – The Dance of the Ghosts
The ghost dance presents the history of India as the cruel zamindars, merciless Britishers, exploitative Brahmins and priests and the needy poor peasants come in one by one, dancing to very interesting instrumental music. Gradually, all of them start dancing in their own rows arranged class wise. This shows the discrimination between the people on the basis caste, class and creed. The song which our Bhooter Raja sings sounds like a nasal rap more than a song to me. My mother says that Satyajit Ray had sung the song first very slowly and then made it fast forward several times and used it as a rap. This one is also one of my favourite songs of the film.
While it is a fantasy film for children, it is a film for all people as it has fun, comedy, beautiful lyrics, historical effects, unique costumes (especially the magician’s two bouncing yo yos on his cap) and great music.
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