Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Short stories by Satyajit Ray

I read a bunch of short stories by Satyajit Ray that perfectly meet the requirements of the short story. The stories have a slow start, good buildup and then gradual descent into denouement which may not be unpredictable in a Roald Dahl sort of way (which, frankly, is quite bizarre sometimes) but do give you a nice and pleasant surprise inducing you to reconsider the entire story in the light of the ending, a pleasurable activity.  

The themes are various – ghost, occult, mystery, sci fi – but most stories have something in common: a bachelor goes to an unknown place and something happens to him. Maybe Ray had a liking for carefree bachelorhood or it was simply a convenient plot device to have a bachelor as the protagonist - which helped him avoid crowding up his plots with family members. Ray wrote the stories for children’s literary magazine(s), which explains why the auteur didn’t deal with adult themes in them.

What held me in awe about the stories is Satyajit Ray’s range of imagination and his ability to bring them to life in words. We all know is ability to deal with complex themes about human relationships and social matters. We also know his ability to spin a gripping detective yarn – Feluda. In films like Gupi Bagha, Ray showed his penchant for the surreal. Even so, these stories impress you with their range and Ray’s ability to handle bizarre themes engagingly.  Somewhere above I wrote the endings are not Dhalian - but Dahl would have surely approved of the them.

One man, looking out for ideas to tell stories to his invalid son, meets another man who enthralls him with tales from distant past and future claiming to have known them through time travel –  alas, the first man realizes much later that he had met but a pickpocket! An aspiring writer, writing a book on indigo planters, ends up in an old countryside mansion, where, as he looks into a mirror, he finds an 18th century British planter looking at him. And much more.

I felt the stories were immensely filmable but why Ray never adapt them into movies is a surprise.  

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