Legendary Bollywood hero Raj Kapoor had agreed to finance auteur Satyajit Ray’s cult children’s film “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne”(GGBB), but wanted him to direct his eldest son Randhir Kapoor’s first movie in return, says Tinnu Anand, who assisted Ray in the film.
“Manikda (Ray) was unable to get a financier for making GGBB. He had then gone to attend Raj Kapoor’s daughter’s wedding. There, Raj Kapoor told him he will finance the film, provided he directs his son Randhir Kapoor’s first film,” Anand said at the sixth Kolkata Literature Festival, organised as a part of the 43rd International Kolkata Book Fair.
However, a young producer in then Calcutta, Asim Dutta told Ray there was no need for him to make the film in Bombay (now Mumbai), as he was ready to produce it.
“We are very grateful that GGBB was born here and not in Bombay,” Anand said on the occasion of completion of 50 years of the film.
Recalling the days when he came to Calcutta to assist Ray, Anand revealed that the producers lacked the means to keep an extra assistant director.
But after Anand met Ray, he asked him to join as assistant director, saying he has persuaded the producer to engage him.
Anand said he was touched with the first encounter.
“Ray handed me some papers and said ‘Tinu I woke up at 4.30 a.m. and typed out seven pages of detailed synopsis for you’. I was almost shocked. Then he said he has managed to convince the producer. I couldn’t believe this could be done by such a big personality for an outsider,” he said.
The original Bengali story ‘Goopy Gayen’ was penned by Ray’s grandfather Upendra Kishore Ray Choudhury in 1915 for the children’s magazine Sandesh brought out by the family.
“So, in a way, It is not 50 but 104 years of GGBB. When Ray made it into a film, it was very different. There was drama in it and a few characters were created and tweaked by him, packed with many surprises,” said Prasad Ranjan Ray, a member of the famous family, and a former home secretary of West Bengal.
Sharing the details of his close association with his famous father, Sandip Ray said: “I had complained that he is only making films for adults where characters are dying. It was then that he decided to make GGBB.”
But the making of the iconic film was anything but smooth.
“He had started filming GGBB much before, but the project had to be shelved after the producer backed off. This had pained my father a lot. He switched attention to other films. Later, GGBB was made, but there was mudslinging during the release of the film, which I don’t want to go into. But the high point is, the film ran for almost 104 weeks, calculating its run in all the theatres which screened it,” said Sandip Ray.
He recalled that the initial reaction of the local audience was not very favourable.
“I had gone for the first show. There is a scene where delicious sweets and other food descend on a battlefield from the sky. As the scene was being shown, I heard a loud shout ‘How long do we have to endure this cock-and-bull stuff’. I was crestfallen. But the audience reaction improved from the second day.
“What happened after that is history. The film became a success only through word of mouth publicity, whispering campaign and above all the love that it got from the audience,” he added.
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