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Ray's Script/Direction: Jabda Khata vs On-The-Spot Decisions

Ray's Script/Direction: Jabda Khata vs On-The-Spot Decisions

Postby Dr. Debasish Bhattacharya on Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:46 am

Ray, as always we knew, had developed his scripts with ultimate elaborate planning, keeping every bit of the shot pre-determined. Having a holistic vision of filmmaking and at the same time having in-depth knowledge in each of the support fields of this multi-discipline medium, he could visualize what exactly he wanted to express through his shots. This had helped him in getting things done in the smoothest way possible within shortest time frame and cutting drastically short on expenses.

To some it seemed to be rigidity. But, he was enough open to circumstances which he thought would add to the excellence of his expressions. And, as viewers we really had been benefited for those changes in his scripts and directorial ventures.

Jabda Khata, the great red-cloth bound tussle-tied notebook that carried Ray’s detailed planning on scripts and directions had spoken of his tremendous visualizing capacity on shot planning. Even notes on dress for actors including styles of wearing, furniture with their location within the frame, etc. were there in not just scribbled words but also in detailed sketches. It also mentioned background scores to be set on such and such Ragas.

Ashani Sangket

I was fortunate to see Ray directing few shots of the film in Goalpara Village close to Shantiniketan in West Bengal. Babita, the Bangladeshi actress was performing in the role of a Brahmin priest’s wife. The shot that was being taken was on Babita’s walking down from one verandah through the courtyard till getting onto another verandah of the same hutment. After several disappointing takes Ray had shown the heroine how to hold the loose end of the sari (aanchal) covering the head (ghomta), how to walk down and up the stairs in a traditionally worn sari and pose for a close shot through her ghomta. Me in the crowd was thrilled to see a tall and grave man doing it with such ease. The next moment the shot was through.

To me this is not rigidity, but a show of strength of control over the work. But then, this is not the end.

Sadgati

This Premchand story has been set against the backdrop of pluralistic society. Victimization of a person belonging to a lower caste – Dukhi Chamar, by the Brahmin priest of the area had been the story base for the movie. In the movie we have found two things which were not there in the original script.

The whole movie was shot in outdoors in Bihar. The people of the area where it was shot, traditionally performed propitiation of Ravan, the ten headed villain of Ramayan slain by Ram. But, Ravan was considered as the perfect Brahmin in mythological notes. This, Ray had adopted from the locale and shown a large clay Ravan idol, erected in the village backdrop, that the way the local people propitiate the idol of Ravan. This said much without explicit explanation about the priest being a villain in the film.

The other instance was that of the climax. Jhuria, wife of Dukhi Chamar came to the priest’s house in search of her ill husband and found him dead under a tree. She went back to the priest’s door, banged it frantically asking for justice in vain crying at the top of her voice and finally fell in front of the door exhausted. The whole shot was taken on the backdrop of incessant rain that just spoken out the ultimate mood of the film. Jhuria’s sorrow was in a sense expressed though rain. However, originally the shot was composed without rain. While shooting the scene the rain came and Ray had taken on-the-spot decision to utilize it for depicting Jhuria’s sorrow.

We thus got to see a brilliant product where Ray was not fully dependent on the Jabda Khata.
Dr. Debasish Bhattacharya
 
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Reply to Dr Bhattacharya's opinion on Rays' Jabda Khata

Postby siddhartha roy on Sat Feb 21, 2004 3:58 am

I fully agree with the views expressed by Dr Bhattacharya. Ray planned each & every moves/ frames of his films & the best way to capture this was a methodical approach of noting every steps well ahead.

The pioneer in this concept of maintaining such red cloth (shalu) enwrapped diaries ( Khata) was not Ray but his father Sukumar Ray.. he used to maintain a bunch of such diaries where notes relating to varied topics were penned.. for instance:

1. Jabda Khata ( Ledger )
2. Baje Khata ( Useless Diary for non sense notes)
3. Hijibiji Khata ( Diary for scribbling)
4. And of course the one & only KHEROR KHATA ( field notes diary) which both father & son maintained religiously.

Each & every of the above diaries are priceless in terms of their contents -a peep into which reveals the creativity of the genius in their own ways.

On location one would never find Satyajit Ray without his KHERO KHATA ..always in hand .. in case it somehow was not found at the right time Ray would speak aloud in his baritone voice " AMAAR KHATA ??" ( Where's my diary??)
siddhartha roy
 
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 2:58 am

Re: Ray's Script/Direction: Jabda Khata vs On-The-Spot Decisions

Postby Folkswanx on Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:17 pm

I love you so much, the lane that made me bright.
Folkswanx
 
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Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:03 am


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