Bhuto by Satyajit Ray
In Bhuto by Satyajit Ray we have the theme of hope, aspirations, disappointment, failure, revenge, respect, control and fear. Taken from his The Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Ray may be exploring the theme of hope. Naveen wishes to become a ventriloquist. He has aspirations to follow in the same path as Akrur Chowdhury. However when Naveen goes to ask for Chowdhury’s help he is refused. This may be important as there is a sense that after Chowdhury refuses to help Naveen that Naveen becomes disappointed. Though it might also be significant that Naveen is not defeated by Chowdhury’s refusal to help him. If anything he is inspired to learn the art of ventriloquism by himself. It is also interesting that as an act of revenge towards Chowdhury Naveen decides to have a puppet made in Chowdhury’s likeness. This too may be important as there is a sense that Naveen believes that by having a puppet made in Chowdhury’s likeness he is in fact controlling Chowdhury. Though it is only ventriloquism. This is good enough for Naveen.
Despite Naveen’s initial success there are some setbacks which may be important. Chowdhury for example is unhappy that his image is being used by Naveen. Also Naveen begins to lose control over Bhuto with Bhuto answering questions by himself rather than through the act of ventriloquism. It is as though Bhuto takes on his own identity. Something which frightens Naveen as Naveen realises that the magic that Chowdhury has talked about and which he learnt in the Himalayas is coming into force. It is also possible that just as Naveen sought to get revenge on Chowdhury. Likewise Chowdhury through magic is also seeking to get revenge on Naveen. Which may leave many readers to suggest that karma is at play. It may also be a case that Ray is suggesting that should an individual chase a dream, as Naveen has done, it is better not to upset or offend another person in the process. Ideally a person should be respectful and Naveen by making Bhuto in Chowdhury’s image has not been respectful. Rather than being happy with his success Naveen has taken things a step too far. He could have easily used another puppet instead of Bhuto but possibly due to arrogance and a high belief in himself. Considered it appropriate to mock Chowdhury.
What is also interesting about the story is the fact that Naveen is reliant on Bhuto for his success. He has been able to move out of his uncle’s home and into a flat of his own. He has money in his pocket and is kept well occupied with his appearances with Bhuto. If anything Naveen and Bhuto have become popular. Again at the expense of Chowdhury. Though it is difficult to like Chowdhury due to how he initially treated Naveen. The reader does suspect that Chowdhury may have gone a step too far when it comes to Bhuto changing into Chowdhury. It would have been easier for Chowdhury to destroy Bhuto rather than inflict the mental torture that he is inflicting on Naveen. However some critics might suggest that Chowdhury as a magician is simply using the tools at his disposal. Highlighting to Naveen who is the better ventriloquist and magician. There is also a sense that Chowdhury lives his life to perform his art. While Naveen on the other hand may be performing simply to earn money. It is after all noticeable that Chowdhury spent time in the Himalayas learning magic. Something which most likely was a difficult task.
The end of the story is also interesting as it becomes clear to the reader that Naveen is very much afraid of Bhuto. He knows that he no longer has any control over him and while trying to fix Bhuto only manages to break him. This is a life changing moment for two reasons as the reader becomes aware that at the moment that Bhuto became broken, Chowdhury died. It is as though Chowdhury in his last breath has managed to end Naveen’s career and prosperity. Just as Naveen had sought revenge on Chowdhury. Chowdhury at the end gets revenge on Naveen. The second reason that the breaking of Bhuto is important is because Naveen the next morning when he is talking to his landlord decides to stop being a ventriloquist. Which may leave some readers suggesting that the early defiance that Naveen had shown when he had Bhuto look like Chowdhury is no longer there. It is also possible that Naveen realises that ventriloquism might be one thing but the abilities of Chowdhury when it came to performing magic are a different thing altogether. Though Chowdhury has died he has left a sufficient impact on Naveen’s life. An impact that has not only made Naveen decide to change his occupation but one which has also left him afraid.