Director: Kalipada Das; Writer: Kalipada Das; Cinematographer: D.R. Barodkar; Cast: Kalipada Das, Pravat Coomar, Sirapada Bhowmick, Radharani, Amulya Bandyopadhyay, Rajen Baruah, Sadhana Devi
Duration: 00:22:33; Aspect Ratio: 1.318:1; Hue: 273.491; Saturation: 0.014; Lightness: 0.383; Volume: 0.037; Cuts per Minute: 33.074
Summary: The only surviving silent Bengali film was accidentally discovered by Mrinal Sen's film unit while shooting on location in 1980. The comedy has a country bumpkin hero Gobardhan (Das) vsiting his parents-in-law in Calcutta. Mistaking a 'No Nuisance' sign for an address, he gets lost trying to find his friend Amal's (Baruah) room. His subsequent adventures take him to famous locations including Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial and the Maidan. These scenes are intercut with fast-paced shots of life in the city and of crowds, evidently gathered to watch the shooting. Gobardhan eventually finds his in-laws, feigns illness to prolong his stay, is beaten up when he tries to sneak into his wife's (Radharani) room and gets mistaken for a thief. The sequence of Gobardhan kissing his wife, somewhat abruptly introduced, probably evokes a tradition of pre-censorship pornographic film using Anglo-Indian actresses. As director and lead actor, Das mostly restricts his gags to stumbling in various ways. The erratic cinematography and editing betrays a general lack of technical control. The surviving print at NFAI is 2110 ft.
Suresh Chabria writes: ‘Many more short films than before were made in the late silent era as supporting programmes for the full-length feature attractions. However, the main contributors to this trend were small production companies which made films very quickly and with an erratic technique. The archive has three such films—all comedies.
The only surviving Bengali silent film, Jamai Babu is about a country bumpkin Gobardhan (Das) who comes to visit his wife and in-laws in Calcutta. Hilariously he mistakes a ‘No Nuisance’ sign for an address and is lost in the teeming streets of Calcutta. Reunited with his friend Amal, the two visit the famous sights of Calcutta including the Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial and the Maidan. In the somewhat salacious second half Gobardhan feigns illness to prolong his stay in Calcutta and be close to his wife. When he tries to sneak into her room in the dark of night he is mistaken for a thief and beaten up—unexpected treatment for the esteemed son-in-law in his wife’s maternal home! Das’ conception of comic acting is limited to stumbling and falling in different ways, but the film does have flashes of genuine wit. The best part of the film is the way Calcutta is woven into the action, reminding one of the urban landscapes of distant California in early American slapstick’. From Suresh Chabria ed. Light of Asia: Indian Silent Cinema 1912-1934, New Delhi: Niyogi Books/Pune: National Film Archive of India, 2013, pg 53-54.