Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adventures of Goopy and Bagha

Satyajit Ray, 48m, 1968

This is one of several films which Ray made for children.

Goopy, a rustic lad, is banished in disgrace (mounted on a donkey) by the music loving Rajah of a small village for his atrocious playing on the Tanpura. Soon he encounters Bagha, another youngster in identical straits except that the offending instrument was a drum. They are set upon by a lion who makes his exit causing no more damage than a bit of roaring. Very soon they meet the hilariously ferocious King of Ghosts and we are treated to a prolonged ballet performed by his retinue of ghosts depicting, for no apparent reason, an enactment of the country's colonial past. The benign Devil grants them three boons, the first of which is to summon food of choice anytime, anywhere. Next, they are able to bring about rapprochement between two armies poise for conflict by the simple stratagem of causing it to rain sweets. The starved warriors forget everything in their eagerness to do justice to the refreshments. Not just that, the tearfully reconciled brothers, leaders of the two armies, express their gratitude by offering the hands of their respective daughters to the two friends.

One of the nice things is the melodious singing of Goopy , set to words which are a mixture of poetry and nonsense. The power of musical entrancement was one of the three boons. This was used in the peacemaking process also, as the friends regale the armies with the futility of fighting.

This is an utterly lightweight tale told with abandon, and great fun all the way. It is a contrast to Western fairy tales, which, below the surface, are anything but child-like, as they present themes of death, destruction and doom.

This definitely makes me want to see Ray's other films in this genre, there being around half a dozen.

Here is one of the songs:

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