Patol Babu, Film Star is a gem of a story by Satyajit Ray. I came across this short story in my son’s English Literature book and was instantly charmed. I have read (and seen) several of Satyajit Ray’s works and am an ardent fan. This possibly colors my reviews of his works. Let me start with a synopsis of the story.
Patol Babu, like many other star-struck youngsters, has always wanted to be an actor. In his youth, he stars in several plays and is much in demand. However, his dreams to make it big get crushed in the daily grind of life as he struggles to earn a decent livelihood. Then, miraculously, at the ripe old age of 52, he is offered a chance to act in a movie by a well-known director. On reaching the sets, he is at first disappointed and a little insulted to learn that the role for which he has been chosen is pretty insignificant. The rest of the story is about how he makes the most of this situation, giving much more to the shot than even the hero of the film with whom he shares the scene.
While trying to find more about Patol Babu, Film Star, I discovered that Dibakar Banerjee’s short “Star” in the movie Bombay Talkies was actually based on this story. Although I liked Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s portrayal in the film, I don’t remember being as captivated with it as I was with Patol Babu, Film Star.
There are two things I really liked about this story. One, the way the author captures the varying emotions of Patol Babu as he contemplates and then executes the scene. Second, the inherent lesson that there is really nothing like a job well done. As Appraisal Season has come and gone with no promo in sight, this lesson seems all the more relevant just now!
If you are feeling jaded and in need for motivation, do read Patol Babu, Flim Star. Borrow it from any Xth grade CBSE student or read it online here.