Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) is a 1978 film by Bengali director Satyajit Ray, featuring the actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Santosh Dutta, Siddartha Chatterjee, Utpal Dutt among others.
The film is based on the famous Feluda novel of the same name by Satyajit Ray himself.
Feluda played by Soumitra, the sharp and witty detective from Calcutta, his cousin Topshe and friend Lalmohan Ganguly played by Santosh Dutta visits Benaras (Varanasi), a town on the banks of Ganges. In Benaras they meet a Bengali family. On coming to know that Feluda is a famous detective the head of this family invites him to his place and tells him about theft of an idol of Ganesha, the elephant God.
This idol is made of pure gold and is a prized possession of the family and is supposed to bring good luck to the family. “Maganlal Meghraj” (enacted by Utpal Dutt) a wealthy businessman from Benaras has had his eyes set on the idol. Feluda promises to help the family in finding the idol. Meanwhile, the sculptor who was sculpting the Durga idol for the Durga Puja festival is murdered and the mystery deepens. Feluda uses his brilliant detective skills to unravel the mystery and bring the culprits to the book.
The story has two sub plots. On the one hand, it is the story of the acquisitive instinct of a greed Marwari businessman, who would spare no expenses to get what he desires, even at the cost of murdering some innocents and bribing the willing. On the other, it is also the tale of cautionary foresight exercised by the family head. The sights and sounds and the brilliant cinematography and photographic imagery takes the nostalgic viewer to a lost world of the innocence, the beauty and the freshness of a north Indian town, that is at once, far from the madding corruptibility of big cities. Subaltern texts like the caste and the communal divide do make their presence felt, but they exist as subplots, that further enrich the viewer’s understanding.