Parash Pathar (The Philosopher's Stone)
1958, 111 min., B/W, In Bengali with subtitles.
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.
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”.
|Screenplay & Direction:||Satyajit Ray, based on the short story “Paras Pathar” by Parasuram (Rajsekhar Bose)|
|Art Direction:||Bansi Chandragupta|
|Music:||Pandit Ravi Shankar|
|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|