Patol Babu was a 52-year-old man, who lived with his wife. At one time he had a real passion for the stage. He was always in demand. His name had appeared in handbills on countless occasions. Indeed there was a time when people bought tickets especially to see him. That was when he used to live in Kanchrapara. He had a job in the railway factory there. In 1934, he was offered higher pay in a clerical post with Hudson and Kimberley in Calcutta. He gave up his factory job and came to Calcutta. It was running quite smoothly by for time until a sudden retrenchment in his office due to the war cost him his nine-year-old job. Ever since then, Patol Babu had struggled to make a living. He tried every means of earning a livelihood without ever succeeding in improving his lot, and acting had become something the remote past.
Nishikanto Ghosh lived three houses away from Pato Babu. He was a genial person. He visited Patol Babu early one morning and told him that his youngest brother-in-law, Naresh Dutt, was looking for an actor for a scene in a film they were shooting. The character should be in his fifties, short and bald-headed, for which would be suitable. They would pay him for his part. Patol Babu did not expect such an Offer would Come to him at the beginning of the day. He readily accepted the offer. Naresh Dutt came to meet Patol Babu the next day and explained to him that he had a part to play Of an absent-minded, short-tempered pedestrian. He told him the venue for the shoot and about his attire and then left.
After Naresh Dutt left, Patol Babu broke the news his wife. He remembers his past days when he worked on the stage. He wishes this Offer would be his first Step to rise to fame and fortune. His wife alerts him not to count on the chickens before they are hatched. The next day Patol babu was quite punctual to reach the shooting venue, where he saw a big crowd had gathered. He Waited there for Naresh Dutt because he was the only one whom he knew. He stood in the shade Of a paan shop and waited till he was called for his turn.
Patol Babu was working in a film which the main lead was played by Chanchal Kumar and the film was directed by Baren Mullick. After waiting for long Patol Babu thought about his dialogue. What was he supposed to say? It didn’t matter if the part was small, but he had to make the most of it, he had to learn his lines
beforehand. After inquiring here and there, finally, his dialogue was written on a piece of paper. He was shocked when he read his one-word dialogue of ‘Oh’. He
felt these people were pulling his leg and the whole thing was a gigantic hoax. He felt they had made a laughing stock Of him in the middle Of the city. But, he is explained by Baying that there are hundreds Who don’t have even a word to gay in the film. ‘They just have walked past the cameras and some didn’t even walk; they just stood in a spot. Patol Babu could not stand in one place anymore as his legs felt heavy and moved ahead to the office beyond the paan shop and got down on the stairs.
Initially, Patol Babu is much stressed to get his part. later on, he settles down because it has become a routine for him to accept things and as they come. Then he recalled the words Of his mentor Mr. Gogon Pakrashi who was a wonderful actor with no trace of vanity in him. He was a saintly person and an actor in a million. He used to say that ‘Each word spoken in a play is like a fruit on a tree. Not everyone in the audience has to it. But the actor must know how to pluck it, get at its essence and serve it up to the audience for their edification.’ The memory of his guru made him bow his head in Obedience. Now he started practicing his one-word dialogue and made an amazing discovery that this one word when spoken in different ways carried different shades Of meaning. He suddenly felt that he could write a whole thesis on that one monosyllabic exclamation. A true actor could make a mark With this one single syllable.
At last Patol Babu’s turn came. NOW he had settled well With his role. The real artist had taken over him. In the scene, he had to collide with Chanchal Kumar who was in a hurry to move ahead. On being hurt due to the collision he had to remark ‘Oh’. He was made to count his steps before the collision place.
He told the director that if he had a newspaper in his hand while colliding, that would look more real. The director agreed immediately and he was given a mustache for the scene which suited him a lot. He mixed the emotion Of irritation and surprise in his dialogue and the collision took place at the most appropriate time.
After the shoot, Patol Babu went back to the paan shop and felt immensely satisfied. He had done his job really well. All these years of struggle had not reduced his acting talent. It is true that he needed money very badly, but what were twenty Rupees when measured against the intense satisfaction a small job Done with and dedication? Naresh Dutt went looking for him but he had left without taking his payment.
Q. Why does Patol Babu’s wife tell him that he is counting his ‘chickens before they’re hatched’?
A. Patol Babu broke the news about his acting debut in a movie. He told his wife that it would be his first step to rise to fame and fortune. But his wife knew that Patol Babu always used to get overenthusiastic even before anything happened. So she told him not to count the chicken before the eggs hatched.
Q. What did Gogon Pakrashi teach Patol Babu?
A. Gogon Pakrashi was Patol Babu’s mentor. He was a wonderful actor without a trace of vanity in him. He told Patol Babu that whatever part he was offered he should never consider it beneath his dignity. He told him to squeeze the essence of every dialogue and serve it to the audience.
Q. What idea did Patol Babu have while rehearsing? What was the director’s reaction?
A. Patol Babu got an idea that he should hold a newspaper in his hands to make the scene more effective. He also suggested that he should wear a mustache in the scene. Both his suggestions were accepted by the director.
Q. What attention did Patol Babu pay to the minor role he played in the movie?
A. Patol Babu was given only a minor role in the film, as a pedestrian, who was to collide into the main actor Chanchal Kumar and utter a Monosyllabic sound”oh”. But his passion for the job drove him hard and he rehearsed for that single word many a time. He discovered that each time he pronounced the word it came out differently and conveyed a different meaning. He suggested the Director that he should hold a mustache to look more authentic. He ultimately delivered the role to his utmost satisfaction.
Q. What good news did Patol Babu received at the start of the day?
A. Patol Babu received the news that one of Nishikanto Babu’s brother-in-law who was involved into film-making was looking for a bald, middle-aged man for a role in the film. Nishikanto Babu being Patol Babu’s neighbor and a friend had suggested his name to them.
Q. Naresh Dutt was surprised to see that Patol Babu was so much satisfied with his performance that he did not wait to get his payment. Comment.
A. Patol Babu was a meticulous man for whom acting was a passion and not a job. He got only a monosyllabic dialog ‘oh’ to utter in his movie. He practiced hard for his role and executed it to the perfection. He was happy with his performance and even the director and the leading actor praised his work. Patol Babu thought that the film would not realize the importance of the hard work done by him. He felt that taking money for the small part he performed will be trivializing his performance. He was a passionate actor to whom creative satisfaction mattered more than money. That made Naresh Dutt a little surprised.
Q. Who was Mr. Pakrashi and how did he instill the value of being true to one’s in Patol Babu?
A. Mr. Pakrashi was the mentor and guru of Patol Babu. He always told Patol Babu whatever small part he was offered he should never consider it below his dignity to accept it. As an artist, his aim should be to make the most of the opportunity and squeeze the last drop of the meaning of his lines. When Patol Babu was given only a single dialog ‘oh’ to utter, he thought of quitting. But when the words of wisdom of his mentor echoed in his ears, he came to term with the small role. He did it so well that everyone was praising Patol Babu. He did it with commitment and perfection.
Q. Patience and hard work go a long way in achieving your goals. How does Patol Babu win the admiration of the director with a very small role?
A. Patol Babu was offered the role of a pedestrian in a film. He had expected to get a dialog part. He took it as an opportunity to prove his skill. But he was disappointed to see his role as it was a monosyllabic exclamation. H became angry to think that he had been humiliated. Then he recalled the precious advice of his mentor. Mr. Pakrshi, his guru who would say that a real actor should take each word of his role like a fruit of a tree and then he should pluck it and serve the essence of the word to the audience.
Using his patience he made himself calm and composed. Then he contemplated deeply and found that he had an ability to write a thesis on it. He started his rehearsal. He gave the director the valuable suggestion of reading a newspaper at the time of the collision. Instead of the two components suggested by the director, he added three components to his exclamation. Thus he proved that patience and hard work plays an important role in achieving his role.
Q. What was Patol Babu’s role in Baren Mullick’s film?
A. Baren Mullick’s was the director of the film. As per the requirement of the film he wanted to have a short and a bald-headed person to play the role of a short-tempered pedestrian. This offer was given to Patol Babu by Naresh Dutt, who was also an employee of the film division.
Q. What unexpected news does Patol Babu received early one in the morning?
A. Patol Babu was passing through financial problems. After performing many jobs and running a business he was facing the problem of unemployment. One early morning, Nishikanto Ghost of the same colony visited the house of Patol Babu and gave him the news that his brother-in-law was working in a film and he would come to his house with an offer of playing the role of a short-tempered pedestrian in a film.
Q. How did Patol Babu prove that money was nothing when compared to the satisfaction of doing a job with perfection and dedication?
A. Patol Babu was an unemployment man. He had lost his job and did not succeed as a businessman. His family was facing financial problems. It was difficult for him to run his family as he had no source of income.
After getting the offer of a role of a pedestrian in a film Patol Babu got a ray of hope to improve his financial condition. But he possessed the latent qualities of a true actor. When he got his role he became dejected. But very soon he reconciled with the situation and started meticulous preparations. Owing to his diligence and patience he prepared himself for the role so nicely that he gave a splendid performance and won the applause of everyone including the great director Baren Mullick. He felt spiritual pleasure as he had done the job with perfection and dedication. After that, he did not bother about the remuneration though he urgently needed the money.
Q. How does Jyoti explain the crucial short to Patol Babu?
A. Putting his hand on the shoulder of Patol Babu, Jyoti explains to him how he has to perform his role. He informs Patol Babu that in the film the hero Chanchal Kumar is a young executive who has got the news of embezzlement in his office. So Chanchal Kumar comes to find out the fact. He comes out of the car and rushes to his office. Just then he collides with an absent-minded pedestrian and Patol Babu has to play the role of that pedestrian.
Q. How did Mr. Pakrashi help Patol Babu in enacting his role well?
A. Mr. Pakrashi was the mentor and Guru of Patol Babu. He had adviced him that each word of a dialog was just like a fruit of a tree. An actor should pluck that fruit and give its essence to the audience. The quality of the performance should matter.
Q. What did Sosanko mean when he said that Patol Babu was lucky?
A. Mr. Baren Mullick was a famous director of films at that time. Only lucky people would get a role in his films. Speaking part was given to only a few persons. Hundreds of people would remain silent as per the role. One the day Patol Babu was given a Monosyllabic sound as a dialog even the hero of the film Mr. Chanchal Kumar had no speaking role. That’s why Sosanko says that Patol Babu was a Lucky Actor.
Q. “Counting your chickens before they are hatched.” Who says these words and when?
A. These words are said by Patol Babu’s wife to Patol Babu.
Patol Babu has got an offer of playing the role of a pedestrian in a film. He gets it when he is unemployed and is in dire need of a job. He thinks that this opportunity of playing a role will provide him a ladder to excel in the field of film. Then he will have sufficient money, name, and fame. He starts making Castle in the air then his wife tells him “Counting your chicken before they are hatched”
Q. Why does Patol Babu walk away before he can be paid for his role? What does this reveal about his character?
A. Patol Babu possesses all the virtues of a good actor. He is a born actor who gets pleasure by performing his role with utter devotion and dedication. He has a whim for the applause of his audience. For playing his role of a pedestrian he tolerates ignominy and undergoes hardships. But when he gets the applause of the director as well as other characters present on the shooting site he becomes extremely happy. Then he does not bother about the amount of the remuneration. It shows that he is an actor of sacrificing nature.
- Patol Babu – Patol Babu is an unassuming, humble, and modest man. He is a 52-year-old man who gets an offer to play an insignificant role of a pedestrian in a film. He gets really very excited about his role. However, when he reaches the shooting scene for enacting his role, he is disappointed to know the insignificance and shortness of his scene. He is assigned the role of a pedestrian who is to bump into the hero and just exclaim the word ‘Oh!’ He wants to get away from the scene. He does not want to play such a small role.
- Gogan Pakrashi – Gogon Pakrashi was Patol Babu’s mentor and Guru. He himself was a great actor, without a sign of vanity; a saintly person. He had a lot of influence on Patol Babu’s outlook on life. He had instilled in him strong moral and ethical values. He had taught him many years ago that he must never refuse any role, however small it might be. As an artist, his aim should always be to make the most of the opportunity and squeeze the last drop of meaning out of his lines and deliver it to the audience for their edification. Patol Babu admired him a lot.
- Patol Babu’s Wife – Though there is not much written about Patol Babu’s wife in the chapter, from the two sentences she spoke indicate she was quite a practical lady. She did not like her husband’s idealism, daydreaming, and boasting about his past. After he broke the news about the role he was going to play in a movie, she scolded him not to count his chickens before they are hatched. She appeared to be quite critical of Patol Babu’s idealistic and dreamy attitude towards life. She believed these flaws in his personality did not let him become successful in life.
- Sosanko – Sosanko was a young fellow, perhaps the writer of the script of the film for which Patol Babu had gone for shooting a scene. When he gave Patol Babu his monosyllabic dialogue, he sensed his disappointment. He tried to make him feel good by explaining to him that his role was really important. He explained to him how lucky he was to have got an opportunity to work in Baren Mullik’s film.
- Naresh Dutt – Naresh Dutt was Nishkanto Gosh’s youngest brother-in-law. He was in the film business, production department. He was a strapping young man about thirty. He came to Patol Babu’s house to offer him a role in a movie they were shooting. He was not punctual and upright. He reached Patol Babu’s home quite late and did not describe the role honestly to him. He kept him in the dark about the role.
- Baren Mullick – Baren Mullick was the director of the movie in which Patol Babu was playing the role of a pedestrian. He was quite much in demand these days as he had had three smash hits in a row. He took a keen interest in ensuring all the aspects about each and every scene before shooting it. He always seemed in hurry to shoot as much as he could. He was quite open to creative and innovative ideas. For instance, when Patol Babu suggested if he carried the newspaper while walking, it would make the scene look more natural, he immediately accepted it. His focus, creativity, and passion for his work were the secrets of his success.
- Chanchal Kumar – Chanchal Kumar was a kind of super-star of his time. His movies were liked by people. However, Patol Babu thought he had a feminine look. If he had been wearing a Bengali dhoti and Panjabi instead of a suit, and given a peacock to ride on, he would make a perfect God Kartik. Monotosh of Kanchrapara–who was better known by his nickname Chinu–had the same kind of looks. He was very good at playing female parts. He did not appear to be physically strong as he had to massage his head after the collision with Patol Babu.