Sukumar Ray (1987) Movie Script

The Government of West Bengal and
Satyajit Ray Productions Present.
Saumitra Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt,
Santosh Dutt & others.
Cinematography: Barun Raha,
Art: Ashok Bose; Editing: Dulal Dutt.
Narration: Saumitra Chattopadhyay
Songs: Anup Ghoshal & Chorus.
Screenplay, Music & Direction:
Satyajit Ray.
There are few Bengalis
unfamiliar with these pictures.
They are from two wonderful books
and a great short story.
The books are 'Abol Tabol' (The Ridiculous)
and 'Haw-Jaw-Baw-Raw-Law' (Absurdity)
and the story
'The Diary of Heshoram the Clever'
The Author: Sukumar Ray
He was born 100 years ago.
His father was
Upendra Kishore Ray Chowdhury.
Upendra was the adopted son of
Hari Krishna Roy Chowdhury.
Before adoption he was known as Kamada
Ranjan and was the Second of 5 brothers.
The brothers were all gifted.
They were Sharada Ranjan, then Kamada Ranjan (Upendra)
followed by Muktida Ranjan, Kulada Ranjan & Pramada Ranjan.
Sarada Ranjan taught Mathematics & Sanskrit
His books were used as Textbooks.
He was the principal of Metropolitan College
and the best known cricketer of his time.
Upendra was a noted printer and publisher
He was also a painter, a scientist...
a writer of children's fiction
and a musician.
He was the only Indian to regulalrly publish
in 'Penrose Annual' - on printing technology.
Mukti Ranjan, also a mathematician and a
sportsman, also taught in Metropolitan College.
Kulada Ranjan also played Cricket
and was known for his translations...
of children's classics
from around the world.
Pramada Ranjan served in the office
of the Surveyor General of India.
He wrote about his experiences in a book
called 'Baner Khabar' - Jungle Stories.
Of the 5 brothers 2 were traditional Hindus Upendra,
Kulada and Pramada belonged to the reformist BRAHMO SAMAJ.
Despite the social boycott of the Brahmo Samaj The
relations between the brothers was always cordial.
Upendra Kishore married Bidhumukhi, the
daughter of a leading Brahmo Samaj member
and started living at
13, Cornwallis Street in Calcutta.
They had six children
The second was Sukumar Ray.
Sukumar graduated with Honours in both Physics
and Chemistry from Presidency College Calcutta.
When in College Sukumar established
a group called Nonsense Club.
They published a handwritten magazine on humour
called the "Thity two and a half fries".
It was here that he published
his first humourous poetry
and his famous nonsenseplay
'Jhala Pala' (Cacophony)
Here is a sequencefrom Jhalapala: Asked to
explain the meaning of 'I go up, we go down'
The teacher says: I stands for the 'eye' go = cow (Bengali
phonetic equivalent) Up means water (Bengali phonetic equivalent)
so 'I go up' means "The cow's eyes
water" or "the cow is crying"
the next part tells us why.
"We go down."
We means termites
(Bengali phonetic equivalent)
and 'go down' means godown or a warehouse.
So 'I Go UP, We Go Down' means The cow is crying
because termites have destroyed the warehouse.
Another play was 'Laxmaner Shaktishel' (The magic
spear of Laxman) a spoof based on the Ramayan.
Rama and his army have invaded Lanka
the kingdom of Ravana the powerful king.
They are about to meet
Ravana in the field of battle.
Rama: Last night I had a beautiful dream.
I dreamt that Ravana had climbed a tree.
He climbed to the top, his foot slipped
and he fell to the ground unconscious.
Then Ravana must be really dead
The king's dream cannot be wrong
cannot be - will not be - can never be.
I told Hanuman to
throw the body in the sea.
Hanuman said it was unnecessary
Ravana is totally dead.
Totally Dead? Then lets enjoy.
But.. But.. There's Ravana's Chariot
And there's Ravana!
Really! That means Ravana is
not dead? He must have 9 lives!
Its all the fault of Hanuman
Why didn't he throw the body into the sea?
Now its like trying to shut the
barn door after the horse has bolted.
Here's our spy
Tell us all the news.
Sir, I've just arrived.
Is that all you can tell us?
You've just arrived!
Whats so great about that?
Tell us what happened today
In details.
Sir, I got up in the morning, bathed
had some rice and vegetables and went out..
I had pumpkin even though the astrologers
said eating pumpkin is not advised today.
You see my pumpkin had started rotting!
Stop talking nonsense!
Talk about business.
Well, I ate, slept for a couple of hours
and went out.
Saw that drums were rolling!
Like this: Dha Ra Ra Ra Ra Ra...
This guy is repeating 'Dha Ra ra ra ra'
like a recurring decimal!
Are you going to tell us what you saw sequentially,
serially, step by step, chronologically?
Yes tell us everything..
What next?
Ravana is coming, with great pomp
Drums are beating and its very noisy.
What next? What next?...What next?
Drums are beating, cymbals clashing,
The clash of arms is deafening..
What next? What next?...What next?
Thousands of soldiers
Flags are flying.
What next? What next?...What next?
They are thumping their breasts
The earth is shaking under their feet.
What next? What next?...What next?
They put the fear of god in me,
my heart started beating faster.
What next? What next?...What next?
None of you will survive this day..
You'll all die in droves..
In 1895 Upendra Kishore set up a
printing press called 'U.Ray & Sons'
Upendra Kishore hadn't been abroad, but sent Sukumar
to England to study printing & photography.
In 1911, Sukumar went to England
on a fellowship. He was 23 then.
In London he studied for a year in the London County
Council School of photoengraving & Lithography.
He then studied
Chromolithography and litho-drawing
at the
Municipal School of Technology, Manchester.
His correspondence tells us that his tutelage
under Upendra Kishore was of great help.
This was the time (1912) when
Rabindranath Tagore also went to England
with his translation of "Gitanjali" (Tagore
was to win the Nobel Prize for 'Gitanjali')
Sukumar Ray was one of the
first to welcome him there.
Sukumar wrote an article in 'QUEST'
introducing Tagore to the West.
Sukumar returned to India in October 1913 He
had passed his examinations with distinction.
Two months later he married Suprabha.
In summer of 1913, Upendra Kishore started
publishing a children's magazine called SANDESH.
Earlier he had published children's versions
of The Mahabharata and The Ramayana
and the 'Book of the Toontooni Bird'
A collection of folk tales of Bengal.
In 1914, the family shifted to
a new house at 100, Garpar Road.
His printing press was in the front and
living quarters at the back, facing south.
Sadly, he died just two years
after SANDESH was first published.
But in these two years
SANDESH had become a premium magazine.
The quality of printing in SANDESH
was unsurpassed in its time.
Sukumar took over where
his father had left SANDESH.
His first poem for SANDESH was called Khichudi (Kedgeree/mixture) later
included in his famous collection 'Abol Tabol' (The Ridiculous).
Such convoluted verse and such pictures
could only have come from Sukumar Ray..
Was a duck, porcupine (to grammar I bow
not) Became Duckupine, but how I know not.
Stork tells turtle, it's a delight...
Our Stortle shape is exactly right!
The Parrot-Head Lizard feels very silly: Must
he spurn insects, for a raw green chili?
The goat now hatches a plan to wed... Mounts
scorpion's neck... body unites with head!
The giraffe's reluctant to wander nearby
With his grasshopper wings, he longs to fly.
Says the cow, What ails the pen
That my rear belongs to a rascally hen?
See the Whalephant: The Whale wants the sea;
The Elephant says, It's the jungle for me.
The lion has no horns, that's his woe...
He pairs with a deer; And antlers grow!
Covers from early issues of
The standards Upendra Kishore set for Sandesh
were never lowered in Sukumar's time.
The whole family contributed (and
some contributions have become classics)
Family apart, almost every well known writer
(Including Tagore) wrote for SANDESH.
But the bulk of pictures,
sketches and stories
were penned by Sukumar himself.
(They are still read 100 years later)
The versatility of Sukumar
and his thirst for new things was unending
he had given 7 names
to just one handwritten Notebook ..
The Unnecessary Notebook.
The Nonsense Notebook.
The Fanciful Notebook.
The Notebook for Drafts.
The Just-Like-That Notebook.
The Wasted Notebook.
The Collections Notebook.
This Wonderful Notebook with its
many scribbles, riddles and notes.
Gives us an insight
into the mind of Sukumar Ray.
Sukumar had a life outside Sandesh too..
He was the central figure among
the youth of the Brahmo Samaj.
When there was a dispute about
admitting Tagore to the Brahmo Samaj.
The youth, led by
Sukumar and Prashanto Maholanobis
stood up against the establishment.
Ultimately Tagore was admitted
by a popular vote.
In 1915 he founded the 'Monday Club'
It attracted the cream of
young intellectuals of Bengal.
Some members were.
Satyendra Nath Dutta (Poet)
Ajit Kumar Chakrabarty.
Atul Prasad Sen.
Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay.
Kalidas Nag.
Prashanto Chandra Maholanobis.
Hiran Sanyal etc.
The invitations to the Club Meetings were
unique in their contents and composition.
Sukumar personally composed them
and they were printed at U Ray and Sons.
Most were in verse
some have passed into folklore
(recitation in Bengali)
The discussions in this
club were on serious issues.
Poetry, literature, Art, philosophy,
politics Nothing was left out.
The poet Satyendranath wrote a poem
(Recitation in Bengali)
Sukumar wrote two plays for older audiences
One was 'Chalachitta Chanchari'
And the other 'Shabda Kalpa Droom'
In 1921, aged 33 Sukumar fell ill with a
tropical disease that knew no cure then.
His son Satyajit was born the same year.
Despite his illness
Sukumar kept writing for Sandesh.
'Haw Jaw Baw Raw Law'
(Absurdity) was written at this time.
This, his greatest creation, was inspired
by Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland.
The world of Haw Jaw Baw Raw Law
is a world of fantasy and dreams.
Whats your weight? I don't know
2.5 kilogram How can that be?
Patal is younger than me
and even he weighs 21 Kilograms.
Your measures are different.
Write down Weight 2.5 Kg, age 37.
That's nonsense.
My age is 8 years 3 months.
Is it increasing or decreasing?
What do you mean?
Is your age increasin or decreasing?
How can age ever decrease?
Are you saying
age can only increase?
I'd grow old and die!
A person won't grow old at 80?
How idiotic!
Why should I let my age grow?
As soon as I age to 40, a
reverse countdown starts
When it comes back to 10
it starts increasing again.
My age has increased and
decreased so may times.
Its now 13.
In 1922, Sukumar was elected a
Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
In 1923 he published "Ateeter Chhobi"
A history of the Brahmo Samaj.
His health was deteriorating
but his creativity was unabated.
He published printer's manuals.
A new book of verse was
taking shape in little pieces.
He was writing the Mahabharata in verse.
A recuperation visit to Sodhpur led to
this painting of a sunset on the Ganges.
A dummy copy of 'Abol Tabol'(Ridiculous)
was prepared with his own sketches.
Even the cover of the book
was painted by him - in color.
Sukumar did not live to see it in print.
In the last poem of Abol Tabol
He clearly foretells his death.
Today before I leave/I will speak out my heart Even
if it is meaningless/ Let people not understand
I have let my imagination flow today
Thee is no one who can stop it any more
and the last two lines...
Its now time to sleep,
my song is over today.
Tagore visited him at this time
10th September 1923 -
there was an eartquake in Calcutta.
That morning Sukumar Ray passed away
He was only 36.
Heraing of Sukumar's death, Tagore said.
I have seen many deaths. But I have never
seen anyone like this young man
who facing death,
nevertheless sang songs to life.
Sitting beside his death bed I have heard that
song and my heart is overflowing with it,
Early pictures of
Satyajit Ray, Sukumar Ray's son