Patol Babu Summary
This story depicts the dreams and aspirations of smalltimers and the apathy of film people for whom making films is a business. Patol Babu was a middle aged man of about fifty years with a bald head. His neighbour Nishikanta Ghosh informed him that his brother-in-law Naresh Dutt, a film producer, was looking around for an actor for a scene in a film, with looks like that of Patol Babu. Patol Babu was so excited to hear this news that in his excitement, he made the wrong purchases in the vegetable market. Patol Babu remembered fondly that he always had a great passion for the stage and in his youth he had acted in many ‘Jatras’. Indeed there was a time when people bought tickets especially to see him.
It was in the year 1934, when he lived in Kanchrapara and worked as a clerk with Hudson and Kimberley. He had thought of floating his own theatrical club but he lost his job. Ever since Patol Babu had to struggle a lot to make a living. He worked in a Bengali film, worked as an insurance salesman but nothing lasted. He paid regular visits to various offices for jobs but nothing worked. He still remembered some of the dialogues of the plays he had acted in.
A new offer to work in films sparked his interest. Naresh Dutt duly arrived and told Patol Babu to report at Faraday House, next morning. On enquiry, Naresh Dutt told Patol Babu that it was a speaking role and he had to play an absent-minded pedestrian. Patol Babu was extremely happy and confided to his wife that he was aware that it wasn’t a big role, but one rose from small roles only and this might prove to be the beginning of a great career. His wife expressed her reservation but Patol Babu was in no mood to listen.
Next morning, Patol Babu reported on time at Faraday Building. He saw a big crowd with instruments and cameras being shifted here and there. He was instructed by Naresh Dutt to wait for his turn. Patol Babu was quite nervous since he had no idea about his dialogues and he didn’t want to make a spectacle of him self in front of the lead actors. In the meantime, the shooting of the movie started and one scene was shot. Patol Babu couldn’t wait any longer. He went to Naresh Dutt and asked for his dialogues. On glancing at the paper, Patol Babu was really depressed, since he was required to speak just one word ‘Oh!’ Patol Babu was supposed to act like an absentminded pedestrian and collide with the lead actor,
Chanchal Kumar, utter ‘Oh’ and resume walking. He was instructed to go and wait on one side. Patol Babu felt humiliated and let down. He felt the entire Sunday was lost in false anticipation of a good role. A faint memory stirred his mind. He remembered his mentor, Gagon Pakrashi’s advice that as an artist one must make the most of one’s opportunity, whatever it might be. This thought drove away his depression and he started rehearsing all kinds of exclamations ‘Oh’s’ that could be given at different occasions.
Finally Patol Babu was called after an hour. Patol Babu suggested to the director that the scene would look more realistic, if the collision took place, while he had his eyes on the newspaper. A newspaper was immediately arranged. The director suggested that a moustache on Patol Babu would really look more interesting. A moustache was stuck on his face. During the shot, Patol Babu packed in his best effort mixing 25 parts of anguish and 25 parts of surprise, in a single ‘‘Oh!’’ Everyone around praised Patol Babu’s acting skills and he went back satisfied near the paan shop. Patol Babu was tremendously pleased and felt that his acting skills were not blurred even after so many years. But now he felt dejected because there was no one who had appreciated his dedication. For the film-people it was a moment’s work and next minute they had promptly forgotten about that. He knew he would be paid, it would be a very small amount and he did need money very badly. But could twenty rupees measure against the intense satisfaction of doing a job perfectly. Ten minutes later Naresh Dutt was surprised to find Patol Babu missing, without collecting his remuneration. Next minute, all that was forgotten and the camera started rolling for another shot.
- genial : sociable, kind
- pedestrian : traveller on foot
- crucial : important
- suspended : hanging
- oblong : rectangular with unequal sides
- tremor : quiver
- perspiration : sweat
- hubbub : noise
- resumed : begin again
- scribble : to write quickly
- gigantic : great
- hoax : fraud
- meek : timid
- embezzlement : cheating of money
- mellow : to soften by age
- edification : improve morally
- obeisance : gesture expressing respect
- inflection : modulation of voice
- monosyllabic : word of one syllable
- collision : to collide with someone
- apathy : indifference
- anticipation : expecting something before due time
- commended : praised l excruciating : acutely painful
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