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14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray14 Stories That Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The name of the book states the book has 14 short stories based on which Satyajit Ray made movies.
The first one is The Goddess by Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay. This was made into a movie called Devi. This is about a recently married girl of 16 years. Her father-in-law starts worshipping her as a Goddess and soon the whole village starts believing in her as Goddess. She is first inclined to run away with her husband to a larger city so that she is rid of this role, but before her husband could make arrangements she starts believing in her powers and refuses to go with her husband. One day her nephew falls ill and she is asked to cure him. She refuses the mother’s plea to get doctors and tries to cure him herself. The child dies and she commits suicide. Satyajit Ray made the movie Devi based on this short story. The role of the girl was played by Sharmila Tagore.

The second one is The Story of a Coward by Premendra Mitra. The story is about a person who happens to be a guest at a place where he finds his ex-flame whom he had refused to elope with earlier in his life. He finds her settled with her husband. She treats him as if there was nothing between them. Her husband leaves for a few days leaving them alone and she takes him out for shopping. But he is never able to bring himself to ask her, her real feelings for him and he leaves her once again.

The third one is The Guest by Satyajit Ray himself. He made the film Agantuk based on this novel. The story is about a lady who gets a letter from her maternal uncle that he would be coming and staying at her place after a long time. This maternal uncle had run away to become a sanyasi at a young age. The lady and her husband were worried as to what they will feed him since he is possibly a sanyasi. When he comes home he says he would eat anything they feed him allaying their fears of what to feed him and he does not appear to be a Sanyasi either. They are not convinced that he is genuine although he does is normal. Both the lady and her husband treat him with a cold shoulder. Only their young son engages him and spends time with him. The lady does not even address him as uncle. After a few days he leaves and both of them heave a sigh of relief. Only the boy feels his absence. Soon they have another visitor from the lady’s hometown. He tells that the person was really her maternal uncle who had traveled world over and had come expecting to share his experiences with them. He had been sorely disappointed with their cold shouldering him. He had send over some gifts for their son.

The fourth is Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne by Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury. This is the story of a boy whose songs nobody can hear and another boy whose dhol nobody can hear. They both run off to the jungle and start living in each other’s company. After goofing around they manage to end up winning the favour of a king an lead a happy life.

The fifth is The Philosopher’s Stone by Rajshekar Basu. This was made into the movie Paras Pather. In this story a person finds a philosopher’s stone which converts all iron to gold. He soon becomes a rich person. The gold prices drop across the world as he starts converting more and more iron into gold and the demand for gold drops. The whole world economy is in turmoil. Finally he gives the stone to someone who eat it. As the stone gets dissolved in the person’s stomach all the gold that he has created slowly starts returning back to its original form and becomes metallic.

The sixth is The Prologue by Narendranath Mitra. This was the movie Mahanagar. This story is about an orthodox family where the wife starts working so that the family can makes their ends meet. The in-laws are not very happy about it but start accepting it. Her husband also starts asking her to leave the job. But she refuses. His husband one day comes to her office ask him to let her early home, but he end up talking to him and fails to put in his request. One day the manager calls the Anglo Indian lady a lady of loose morals. This enrages the wife and she quits her job. She goes home and tells her husband everything that has transpired. The next day when his wife stays back at home the husband comments that while the culprit (Anglo Indian lady) would be going to office while his wife is at home. This bring tears to the eyes of his wife and she asks him you think the same way too?

The seventh is Birinchi Baba by Rajesheka Babu. In this a group of Bengali intellectuals get together and expose a false godman who has been exploiting the naivety of one of their relatives. A wonderful theory is espoused by one of the characters. He calls this the law of “conservation of virtue”, only when one man commits a crime does another man hope to earn his virtue. This is told in the context where he finds a man selling caged crows. When he asks the man why he is selling these crows the man says that the crows are unhappy at being imprisoned and he could earn some virtue by paying him some money to set the crows free. A very interesting theory.

Manimalika by Rabindranath Tagore is the eighth. The story is about a stranger coming to a village. He sits along the river bank along which is a big deserted mansion. A local tells him about the tale of the mansion involving a beautiful woman and her husband. The story ends with both of them dying. When the local finishes the story he asks the stranger if he believes in the story and the stranger replies saying that his name is the same as the person about whom the stranger had mentioned in his story and his wife’s name was the same as the name of the lady about whom the stranger mentioned in the story.

The Postmater by Rabindranath Tagore is the ninth. It is about a postmaster who is posted to a remote place. There he is helped by an orphan girl. The life becomes better for the orphan girl till the postmaster continues. Eventually he decides to go back to his hometown and new postmaster replaces him. The new postmaster does not need the orphan and the orphan loses all that good thing that she had got in her life.

Deliverance by Munshi Premchand is the tenth. This was made into the movie Sadgati by Satyajit Ray. The story is about an untouchable couple who wish to marry off their daughter. The man goes to the village priest to ask for an auspicious day. The priest makes him work the whole day in return for fixing the day for his daughter’s marriage. The priest makes him do so much work and does not even offer him some food. The man is exhausted by the end of the day and he dies. Everybody refuses to clear the dead man’s body as it is an untouchables and the untouchables refuse to take his body away. Finally after a few days, in the darkness the priest ties the body and takes it to a far off place.

The Conclusion yet another Rabindranath Tagore is the eleventh. This story is about a person who return back to his village to get married after a stay in the city. He finds himself falling in love with the tomboy of the village and forces his mother to ask for her hand. He marries her but she does not warm up to him. He leaves for the city and she moves back to her mother’s place. He tells her that he would expect her to call him back. His mother is also angry with him for having brought him a tomboyish daughter-in-law. After a long time she relents goes with her mother-in-law to her son-in-law’s place. They invite him and when he comes to see his mother he is surprised to see his wife and is even more surprised when she comes to him with warmth.

The famous Shatranj Ke Khiladi is the twelfth story. This is about two gents in Lucknow who are so engrossed in their chess matches day after day that they continue to play even when they see their nawab being captured by the British. But soon they start an argument on who is a better chess player and they end up fighting and killing each other.

The Music Room by Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay is the thirteenth story. This was made into Jalsaghar. This is about a zamidar who loves music. He has languished in his mansion after the Indian government takes away his land and leaves him broker hearted. He has not moved out of his room for two years. One fine day he decides to step out and go to his neighbour’s house where two singers are expected to perform. The two singers have heard about his love of music and request him to let them sing at his place. He arranges for an opulent music party at his place. After the party the musicians stay on and he takes out his esraj and starts playing it and drinks himself to stupor. Next day he wakes up and takes his favourite stallion for a ride. He rides hard and finds himself in a village from where he used to collect taxes in the earlier years. He is unable to stay there and rides back hard. When he returns he finds that he has pulled the reins so hard that the stallion is bleeding at its mouth. In frustration he asks the music room to be shut down.

Pikoo’s Diary by Satyajit Ray is the last story. This is about the diary of a young boy in which writes about his daily experiences. He is inspired by his grandfather who inculcated this habit of writing a diary. His diary ends with the pages in the book coming to an end. This was made into the movie Pikoor Diary.

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