Satyajit Ray was a renowned Indian filmmaker who made films in Bengali. He is considered one of the greatest filmmakers of the twentieth century. He was also a fiction writer, illustrator and a music composer. He authored many short stories and novels for children and adults. He was a multi-talented person. He received the lifetime achievement award at the Oscars.
The story of Patol Babu written by Satyajit Ray is a story of a man who was very passionate about acting. He was a famous stage artist in his youth. This story depicts his experiences and struggles he went through in his life. The story tells us how a small role in the film rekindled the passion of acting in Patol Babu after a break of twenty years. This is the story of his bond with acting, which was above all monetary benefits. The only thing that Patol Babu wanted to have was full satisfaction while performing his role well.
Patol Babu, the protagonist of the story, was a middle-aged man. He was around fifty years old. He was a short and bald man. He worked for the theatres and stopped acting a long time back. It was almost twenty years since he last worked in the theatres.
One fine morning, when Patol Babu was going out to the market, he was visited by his neighbour Nishikanto Ghosh. He told Patol Babu that his brother-in-law was making a film and he was looking for an actor who would be around fifty years old, short with a baldhead. The description of the character best suited Patol Babu, so Nishikanto was asked to inform him if he was interested in doing that small role in the film. Nishikanto also told him that he would be paid remuneration for the role. He informed Patol Babu that his brother-in-law Naresh Dutt would come to see him at 10:30 am.
Patol Babu was very surprised by the offer. He never thought that he would get an opportunity to work in films. He was completely dumbstruck. He was so nervous and excited that he bought the wrong vegetables from the market.
Patol Babu worked in the old railway factory but he was passionate about acting. He acted in small theatrical stages in the neighbourhood club and people were very fond of his acting. They actually bought tickets to see Patol Babu’s acting. His acting was progressing very well without any difficulties. In 1943, because of the war, his nine-year-old job at the railway factory was terminated. So he had to quit his job and ever since then, he was struggling to make a living for his family. He tried everything to make a livelihood but he was not successful. In the process of earning for survival, Patol Babu almost forgot his passion for acting.
When Patol Babu informed his wife about the offer, she did not believe but he did not give up hope. He waited for Naresh Dutt at 10:30 am. Naresh Dutt finally arrived and introduced himself. Patol Babu lacked confidence and asked him if he really thought he was the best suited for the role. Naresh Dutt assessed him and said that he was perfect for the role. He asked Patol Babu to report to the site, Faraday House, the next morning. When Patol Babu asked him about his role, Naresh Dutt said that his role was of an absent-minded and short-tempered pedestrian who had to collide with the hero of the film. Patol Babu was extremely happy and informed his wife but she did not show any expression. Instead, she expressed her reservations.
The next morning Patol Babu reached Faraday House on time. He saw a big crowd with lots of cameras and shooting instruments there. Naresh Dutt instructed him to wait for his turn. Patol Babu was curious to know his dialogues. Naresh Dutt asked Shoshanko to give him his dialogues. Sosanko tore a page and wrote something on the paper and handed it over to Patol Babu. He was very disappointed to see his dialogue. It was only one word “Oh!”.
He thought that he was called there to be made fun of. Shoshanko convinced him that he was playing a very significant role in the scene and he should not resent. Shoshanko and Jyoti explained the scene in detail to Patol Babu and instructed him to wait on one side. He felt very let down and crumpled the paper and threw it. He wanted to leave the site but then he remembered his mentor when he acted in his youth. His mentor Mr Prakashi had told him that no role was big or small and one must make the best of every opportunity. It was in the hands of the actor to make the role effective.
Patol Babu was convinced and he rehearsed his one-word dialogue with many expressions. Finally, when his turn came, he suggested to the director that the scene could be more realistic if he collided with the hero while reading a newspaper. The director immediately arranged a newspaper. The director suggested putting a false moustache on Patol Babu’s face. He gave his best shot for the scene and everyone appreciated his acting skills. Patol Babu was satisfied with his performance and he stood near the paan shop. He felt very proud of himself that his acting skills had not faded but he was dejected at the very next moment. It was because the filmmakers did not give much attention to momentarily work. He knew that he wanted the remuneration for his work very much but that twenty rupees could not be measured against the intense satisfaction of his performance. Patol Babu left the place without taking his amount. The director searched for him but then the next minute everything was forgotten and the camera started rolling for the next shot.
Q1. How did Patol Babu React When he Heard About his Offer?
Ans. When Nishikanto Ghosh approached Patol Babu with a small role in a film, he was extremely surprised. He never imagined in his wildest dreams that he would get an opportunity to work in the films. He was very excited and nervous.
Q2. How did Patol Babu Convince Himself for the Role?
Ans. Patol Babu was very sad when he came to know that he had to say only one-word dialogue. He wanted to leave the place immediately but then he remembered his mentor’s words who had told him, no roles should be measured big or small. It was up to the actor to make his role effective.
Q3. Why did Patol Babu Leave the Site Without Taking his Remuneration?
Ans. Patol Babu left the site without taking his remuneration because he thought that the small amount of twenty rupees could not be measured against the intense personal satisfaction of his performance.
Q4. Why did Patol Babu Leave his Acting Career in his Early Days?
Ans. In 1943, due to the war, Patol Babu had lost his job. He struggled a lot for making a livelihood. In that process of struggle to earn, he had almost forgotten his passion for acting. So he left his acting career.