chapter  13
15 Pages

The fictions of science and cinema in India

WithRaminder Kaur

One would be forgiven for thinking that the polychromatic-eyed alien would later go flying across the moon with the boy, Haba, on a bicycle, and indeed this intriguing similarity to another well-known extra-terrestrial associated with the Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg, more than a decade later, is part of the irresolvable controversy around this script. Written in 1967 by Satyajit Ray, the script for The Alien was to be produced by the Hollywood production company Columbia Pictures. The plot was partly based on Ray’s story of 1962, Bankubabur Bandhu (Mr Banku’s Friend), and focused on an extra-terrestrial called Mr Ang who arrives in a spaceship that lands in a pond in rural Bengal. Through dreams, the Alien establishes psychic contact with a poor village boy named Haba (meaning ‘moron’) and along with the boy plays a number of pranks on the village resident. The alien in Ray’s script is playful and kind with a special fondness for children, similar to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, also produced by Columbia, which was to appear in 1982, and Jadu, the alien in the Indian film Koi … Mil Gaya (Someone … is Encountered, Rakesh Roshan), which would be released in 2004. Intended to be a high-profile venture, the collaboration between Ray and Columbia never did see the light of day, yet the script was circulated around Hollywood in the late 1960s to much interest. Peter Sellers was to play a wealthy Marwari industrialist Bajoria in the film, and Marlon Brando was to star as an American engineer who drilled bore-wells under Bajoria’s instructions. Due to several disappointments, however, Ray became disillusioned by the transnational enterprise.