Parash Pathar (The Philosopher's Stone)

1958, 111 min., B/W, In Bengali with subtitles.

Summary

Parash PathOn a rainy afternoon, an elderly bank clerk – Paresh Dutta – finds a mysterious “Parash Pathar” as he his returning from work after learning that his office is closing down. “Parash Pathar” or the Philosopher’s stone can transform any piece of metal into gold.

At home he demonstrates the stone’s magical power to his wife by changing a few household items into gold. Soon, Dutta’s are among the richest and most respected citizen of Calcutta. From a modest dwelling, the childless couple move to an opulent mansion. Paresh now has a personal secretary – Priyatosh Henry Biswas, a young man preoccupied with his girlfriend. The source of Paresh’s sudden wealth is a mystery and Paresh is very careful to keep it a secret. He is now much sought after in social and political gatherings.

Paresh is invited to a cocktail party at the house of a businessman and gets drunk. The guests are treated to a magic show by the inebriated Paresh – turning metal into gold. The cunning host covets the secret, however, Paresh manages evade him. Frustrated, the businessman goes to the police with allegation of gold smuggling.

The panic stricken Paresh gives the stone to his personal secretary – Priyatosh and attempts to escape. Paresh’s car breaks down and is arrested on a charge of smuggling gold. Paresh has only one way to prove his innocence – demonstrate the power of stone in the court. But Priyatosh has swallowed the stone. Police wants to operate Priyatosh and remove the stone. The x-rays reveal that the stone is slowly being digested in the young man’s stomach. Once the stone is digested, all gold reverts to iron. The crisis is over. Paresh and his wife seem relieved.

Comments

Parash Pathar is a minor film from Satyajit Ray. Ray made this quick film making use of a break in shooting of Jalasaghar (The Music Room) as its lead actor, Chhabi Biswas, was making a trip to Berlin to receive an award.

Ray’s biographer – Andrew Robinson – believes, “… it (Parash Pathar) would belong among Ray’s best work, were it not for some rough edges which betray the speed at which it was shot …. its humour only partly transplants to the west..”

In a letter to film critic Marie Seton, Ray wrote at the time of the films release, “(it is) sort of combination of comedy, fantasy, satire, farce and a touch of Pathos”.

Paresh (Tulsi Chakraborty)
Paresh (Tulsi Chakraborty)
Paresh and wife
Paresh and wife

Credits

 
Producer:Pramod Lahiri
Screenplay & Direction:Satyajit Ray, based on the short story “Paras Pathar” by Parasuram (Rajsekhar Bose)
Cinematography:Subrata Mitra
Editing:Dulal Dutta
Art Direction:Bansi Chandragupta
Sound:Durgadas Mitra
Music:Pandit Ravi Shankar

Cast

 
Paresh Chandra Dutta:Tulsi Chakraborty
Giribala Dutt (Paresh’s wife):Ranibala Devi
Priyotosh Henry Biswas (Paresh’s personal secretary):Kali Banerjee
Brajahari, the servant:Jahar Roy
Businessman Kachalu:Gangapada Basu
Police Inspector Chatterjee:Haridhan Chatterjee
Police Officer:Bireswar Sen
Doctor Nandi:Moni Srimani
Cocktail party guests:Chhabi Biswas, Jahar Ganguli, Pahari Sanyal, Kamal Mitra, Nitish Mukherjee, Subodh Ganguli, Tulsi Lahiri, Amar Mullick, Chandrabati Devi, Renuka Roy, Bharati Devi
Parash Pathar, poster designed by Ray ©Ray Family
Parash Pathar, poster designed by Ray ©Ray Family