‘Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne’: a timeless movie

Today marks the 100th birth anniversary of the great filmmaker Satyajit Ray, and on this auspicious day, it would be unfair not to write a blog paying my tribute to the great master. So, today I am writing about my favourite childhood movie, a timeless classic by Ray – Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969). This movie is in black and white and in Bengali language.

Ray’s genius lay in creating the kind of cinema that reflected life in a different yet familiar lens, and most of them had a serious undertone and theme. However, he has also created cinema for children. Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is one such movie.

Children’s movies require an altogether different approach from movies for adults. One needs to study the viewpoint of a child, and the way a child looks at the world around him, and this is what Ray had mastered when he made this amazing movie.

The movie is based on the characters created by Upendrakishore Ray Chudhuri (Satyajit Ray’s grandfather). It tells a simple tale of two villagers Goopy and Bagha who are exiled from their respective villages Amlaki and Hartaki, their chance meeting in the forest, followed by the three boons granted by Bhooter Raja (King of Ghosts), and their adventure leading to them marrying princesses ultimately. But what makes this tale of magic and miracles stand out on screen is Ray’s masterwork.

The portrayal of the characters Goopy Gyne and Bagha Byne, and their transition from idiots to prospective kings is remarkable. Bhooter Raja is an additional charm, with his characteristic shrill voice (rendered by Ray himself) and funny appearance. The sorcerer Borfi is another interesting character in the movie. Each of these characters entertain, educate and enlighten the little audience that the movie is meant for. The movie has an amazing cast with Tapen Chatterjee and Rabi Ghosh playing the lead, and Santosh Dutta, Harindranath Chattopadhyay and Johor Ray in other interesting roles.

The songs from the movie are so gripping that they just stay with you. The first song sung by Goopy and Bagha after receiving Bhooter Raja’s musical boons – “Dakho re noyon mele…” is just amazing.

Children’s movies often have themes of magic, mystery, ghosts and adventure, but Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is a combination of all of these with ample humour to keep one entertained throughout the movie. There is humour emanating from the characters and various situations.

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne has two sequels too which are equally interesting to watch – Hirak Rajar Deshe (directed by Satyajit Ray) and Goopy Bagha Phire Elo (directed by Sandip Ray).

When I watched Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne for the first time as a 10 year old, it gave me a very strong message – that I could overcome my shortcomings and fears and reach where I want to. Today, when I watched it again, it gave me a message relevant to the pandemic times that we are living in right now – that life at times seems dark, but the clouds eventually clear away and the sun shines. Ray was a genius ahead of his times, a visionary like no other, each if his movies has a timeless appeal, and Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne is no exception.

Disclaimer: This is not a review of Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, since I do not consider myself capable of reviewing the great works of Satyajit Ray. Kindly consider this blog as my humble attempt to pay a tribute to one of the greatest filmmakers ever.

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