Those who read my previous post দখিনাপনের Dolly will recall that I left no doubts of a sequel with my closing lines: ‘I bid adieu to Dolly and promised to return the following weekend with my wife for Pujo shopping and tea drinking !’. Well, I failed my appointment with Dolly – a very untimely heat wave that seems to have hit Calcutta is partly to blame. The searing heat of the sun was too much for my ‘expecting’ wife to bear.
Wonder, if Dolly waited for me. Dolly, I apologize to you via this post, for having stood you up. I promise to make it up to you, one day soon.
So you might be wondering, why this post then ? Well – I had mentioned in the previous post that Dolly showed a keen sense of business and has been an entrepreneur for the last 22 years. Bengalis in general are assumed not to have a sharp sense for trade (before you start cursing me, please remember I am one of you too :). This has been a subject of many a satire in various forms of media. But none better than depicted in this classic piece of work by Satyajit Ray a.k.a. Manik da, as he was dearly known among his peers . The movie in question is ‘জন অরন্য’ (Jana Aranya) a.k.a The Middleman, released in 1976 The movie was based on an original novella by Sankar. It was also the second in his bouquet of ‘Calcutta Trilogy’, the other two being Mahangar (The Big City, 1963) and Pratidwandi (The Adversary, 1971).
Poster Courtesy: IMDB – Internet Movie Database
This is a dark classic, an urban satire. The story revolves around the protagonist - an educated young could not find himself a job, due to scoring poorly in his graduation exams. He ends up being pulled into the big, bad world of BUSINESS and sets out to clinch a deal of his lifetime and is faced with a terrible moral dilemma as the movie climaxes. If you ARE a Ray fan, it is more than likely you have seen this classic. However if you haven’t seen this or have not been an avid follower of his work, I urge you to see this and Manik da would have another loyal fan. One of the best part of his films was always the depth in the characterization of the actors who played the part they did. In this film another of my all time favorites – Utpal Dutt a.k.a Bishu Da, leads the way. Once you see the following clip from the movie, embedded below, you would realize that no one else, and absolutely no one else could have done justice to the role of Bishu Da. He is wily and hilarious to the core. I do warn you though that this is Ray’s razor sharp humor at it’s best and one has to understand the urban Bengali and Calcutta psyche to relish it. Ray’s love for alliteration also comes out in Bishu Da’s sermon to the hapless Somnath( protagonist. Like an IMDB reviewer Sanjeeb Mitra so aptly puts it ‘Ray bares his fangs and slashes the dark underbelly of Calcutta to spill its guts out. He shows us what his take on morality, immorality and integrity is. It's certainly one of his starkest films and one of his most important.’ Now then , the stage has been nicely set, enjoy the clips. Especially if you have not seen it before.
IF YOU LIKED WHAT YOU SAW THEN
You can go ahead and watch the entire movie on YouTube, with special thanks to one Sanjeeb Roy, who has uploaded it. One has to appreciate the pain people take to share these gems with the rest of us. Thank you Sanjeeb da !
With due respect, you can go catch your daily dose of non-cerebral Bollywood at it’s best in Anjana Anjani at your neighborhood theater !
As for me, really the world is not the same without Manik Da and Bishu Da. Glad, Dolly’s tea is still around. Let us drink Tea to it. Cheers !