Ray’s first comedy is a low-budget quickie because of the delay on his more ambitious Jalsaghar (1958). Bank clerk Paresh Dutta (Chakraborty) finds a magic stone that can turn things into gold and becomes a rich man. When Dutta drunkenly reveals his secret at a cocktail party, his downfall follows as he is arrested for gold smuggling. Eventually the stone is swallowed and digested by his lovelorn secretary Priyatosh Henry Biswas (Bannerjee), turning all Dutta’s gold back into iron to the delight of his wife. Relying at times on silent film comedy techniques (stop motion, speeded-up movement), the film adapts the short story of Rajasekhar Bose, a famous Bengali humorist, evoking, (mainly via Chakraborty’s spectacular performance) a tradition of popular satire featuring the colonial bhadralok (upper middle class): e.g. when the clerk imagines his own heavily garlanded statue amid those of British politicians in Calcutta. Ray later also adapted Parashuram’s Birinchi Baba in Mahapurush (1964).
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