Thursday 18 December 2008

Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) [1978]

-->India’s auteur extraordinaire Satyajit Ray adapted a novel written by himself for this gripping and near flawless detective movie. Though Ray translated only two of his Feluda novels to the celluloid and Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) ranks as the more popular of the two, with this he set a benchmark for every filmmaker who wishes to dabble in this genre. Chain-smoking Bengali sleuth Prodosh Mitter aka “Feluda” (starring Ray’s favourite actor, the impeccable Soumitra Chatterjee), his cousin brother-cum-sidekick Tapesh, and the writer of mystery/adventure novels Lal Mohan “Jatayu” Ganguly (the inimitable Santosh Dutta in arguably his most famous role) are on a vacation at Benaras (Varanasi) when they get involved in a case involving the theft of a priceless statuette of Ganesha (the Elephant God). Utpal Dutt, one of India’s most versatile thespians, has played the principal antagonist of the story, Maganlal Meghraj, a trader of stolen artifacts and a dangerous gangster. At the other end of the spectrum lies a respectable patriarch and an aficionado of detective novels who has given Feluda the case, and his young grandson who has taken after his grandfather where speaking in riddles is concerned. The movie has been suitably aided by a stirring soundtrack by Ray himself and exquisite cinematography which has not only added layers of realism but also has made the city of Benaras an important character of the film. Set during the occasion of Durga Puja, the movie doesn’t just have Feluda making tremendous use of his ‘mogojastro’ (the power of brain) but also enough allusions and moments of satire as well as psychological battles between the characters (the most famous of them being the amazing knife-throwing scene), making this an entertaining and an enriching piece of work.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Detective Movie/Adventure
Language: Bengali
Country: India

1 comment:

Adrenaline and all that Jazzz said...
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