Unveiled: master film-maker’s treasure trove

Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne memorabilia on display

By Sudeshna Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 28.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • Updated 28.04.19, 1:02 AM
  • a min read
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Sandip Ray shows Tarun Majumdar around the exhibition. Picture by Gautam Bose

On the eve of Satyajit Ray’s 98th birth anniversary, a glimpse is being offered into a treasure trove of prop designs and make-up sketches by the master film-maker for the film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, which is set to turn 50 next month.

On Saturday, celebrated photographer Nemai Ghosh inaugurated an exhibition, which will be on view at Gaganendra Pradarshashala till April 30. The exhibits include some of Ghosh’s photographs on the sets of the film.

Speaking to Metro on the sidelines of the show, the veteran lensman said: “Rabi (Ghosh) was my friend from our theatre group Cholachol. I went to Rampurhat to see him act. A few days before the trip, I had found a fixed lens camera at the back of a taxi. I had taken that along. They were rehearsing for a scene. I was bowled over by Ray and clicked some photographs.”

The final make-up sketches of Santosh Dutta as the “good king” and the “bad king” in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne.
The final make-up sketches of Santosh Dutta as the “good king” and the “bad king” in Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. Picture by Gautam Bose

When Ghosh developed the film roll, he showed it to Bangshi Chandragupta, who along with Soumendu Roy and Bhanu Ghosh, were regulars at his house to play cards. “Bangshi asked me to show them to Ray at New Theatres 1 where the Halla king’s durbar had been set up. He saw my pictures and said ‘Tumi toh amar angle mere diyechho!’ (You have replicated my angles). Thus started my association with him.”

It is wondrous to look at the meticulous rough and final sketches of the Halla king and prime minister’s chambers, the wizard Borfi’s room, Shundi court and the headboards of Goopy and Bagha’s bed in Shundi. Even the musical notations of the songs are enlivened with doodles. There are publicity material like newspaper advertisements clippings, stills and the cover of the film’s music album on display as well.

“It was an extremely visual film and since it was a fantasy, nothing was available readymade. This is why we have so much material on the film. Other films for which preparatory material exists are Kanchenjungha, Shatranj ke Khiladi and Hirak Rajar Deshe,” said Sandip Ray, member-secretary of the Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Archives, which organised the exhibition as well as a memorial lecture delivered by veteran filmmaker Tarun Majumdar.

“After seeing Pather Panchali, 12 of us friends had taken out a procession with signboards urging people to see the film,” Majumdar recalled in his lecture.