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Goopy–Bagha’s Betrayal

Female characters and role models are conspicuously missing in Satyajit Ray’s works for children.

I was 10 years old when I first watched Satyajit Ray’s extra­ordinary film for children, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969). Like millions of young Bengalis before and after me, my love for the two fictional musicians was instant. They were goofy and awkward, they had funny, nonsensical names, and the film’s dialogues were hysterical. Goopy, the singer, was tall and lanky, and Bagha, with his oversized dhaak drum, was short and stout. They were unlikely heroes. They came from humble backgrounds, but went on epic adventures. They made delicious foods appear by merely clapping their hands. They could travel anywhere and everywhere thanks to magic slippers. And, they could prevent wars by raining sweets from the skies. How was anyone ever going to resist them?

Since that first time, I have watched Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne a few hundred times. As I live in the United States, with little to no opportunity to use Bangla in my daily life, this film, like others from my childhood, serves as a crutch when I am homesick. It plays in the background while I cook, clean, or grade papers. I sing along to the songs. I recite the dialogues. I look up in anticipation of my favourite scenes. When I was 12, my mother pointed out all the subtext Ray had packed into this so-called children’s film and, since then, I have been awed by its profound messages against war, violence, the cruel and exploitative nature of feudalism and the caste system, and the dangers of having a voiceless population that meekly obeys its rulers. In other words, Goopy and Bagha are amazing. They are the role models every child needs.

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Updated On : 29th Oct, 2018

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