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Ray’s preliminary idea of the Alien which represents a famished child of the Bengal countryside.  
The Unmade Ray

‘T
he Alien' was supposed to have its roots in "Bankubabur Bandhu" (‘Banku Babu's Friend'), a short story that Satyajit Ray had written for Sandesh, the Ray family magazine. The script revolved round a spaceship that landed in a pond in rural Bengal. The villagers began worshipping it as a temple risen from the depths of the earth. The alien established contact with a young village lad named Haba (Moron) through dreams and also played a number of pranks on the village community in course of its short stay on planet earth. The plot contained the ebullient presence of an Indian businessman, a journalist from Calcutta and an American engineer. What perhaps differentiated ‘The Alien' from hitherto done sci-fi films was the portrayal of an intruder from outer space as a benign and playful being invested with magical powers and best capable of interacting with children. "The Alien" never got made in spite of the repeated efforts of Columbia, Ismail Merchant, Sellers' ex-agent and others. --- KDG
 
The frontispiece of the story, Bonku Babu’s Friend, 1962. 
Ordeals of The Alien - By SATYAJIT RAY
"sellers is in Paris," said Mike Wilson, putting down the telephone. "They will get in touch with him and find out if he is interested.

‘They' were Peter Sellers' agents in London, whom Mike had called up from my flat in Calcutta's Lake Temple Road within minutes of learning that I was thinking of approaching the British actor to play the part of an Indian businessman in my projected science fiction film, The Alien . While by no means a blockbuster in the Hollywood sense, the special effects in the film alone called for a budget which was high by Indian standards. If the money was to come from Hollywood, a big name or two in the cast would help, and Sellers was certainly in that category. Moreover, he was a fine, rangey actor, and he had already played an Indian in a Hollywood film --- The Millionairess . If, as I suspected, he knew one kind of Indian accent --- a vaguely South Indian one --- I was sure that if he agreed to play in The Alien , he wouldn't mind making an effort to add a new and authentic one to his repertoire. The two LPs of his that I possessed held proof that he could do things with his voice and tongue which bordered on the miraculous.


Promising

Mike Wilson had come with credentials from the noted astronomer and science fiction writer Arthur Clarke. I had met Clarke in London the year before and described to him the germ of an idea I had for a sci-fi film. Clarke had found it promising. Back home in Colombo, he had talked about it with his friend Mike Wilson. Wilson too had settled in Colombo marrying a Sinhalese Christian of striking good looks. He had also elbowed his way into the film business; written, produced and directed James Banda, blithely transplanting the Fleming secret service agent in Sri Lanka, and rounded up virtually the entire European community in Colombo to play sinister bit roles in the film. Above all, Mike was a highly skilled professional skin diver with the legendary distinction of having stumbled upon a 17 th century Mughal galleon off the coast of Sri Lanka, and retrieved from the wreck a chestful of silver coins. When a man like this writes and tells you that he is ready to give his right arm to set up a co-production deal with you, you are inclined to take his word on trust.

But I had to write and tell Mr. Wilson that there was nothing on paper yet beyond a few jottings. Undaunted, he flew down to Calcutta, checked into a Sudder Street hotel and announced that he would stick around until I produced a treatment. I thought it prudent to tell him that writing
Ray's two drawings for
The Alien, December 1967
An advanced stage of imagination of the Alien, 1967. 
being an intensely private pursuit with me, I discouraged company while working on a script. Mike ignored my stricture, "I shall sit by and make coffee for you when you need it, Maestro." Mike didn't make coffee, but sit by he did and, being a friend of Arthur C. Clarke kept tossing off ideas which slid off the pages of my script. By the end of a fortnight I had a treatment.
On the first page of the screenplay, Ray writes three alternative names for ‘The Alien’. The two titles are – ‘Avatar’ ( God's incarnated) and ‘Mangal-Kabya’ ( The Ballad of Saintliness ). 
Meanwhile word had come that Sellers was interested. Mike and I turned up in Paris in the April of 1967 and met Sellers in his hotel. "New Zealand?" asked Sellers as soon as Mike opened his mouth. Mike nodded, grinning. I was duly impressed. We sat and talked about sundry matters over lunch in the vast hotel dining room. Sellers knew no French but spoke "Franglais" which had the waiters in stitches. Half a dozen of them had thronged round our table, some with autograph albums. Inspector Clauseau had gone over big in Paris. "Do you know my work at all?" I found an occasion to inquire, not without some trepidation. "No," said Sellers. "But Jonathan Miller swears by you and his word is good enough for me." But it wasn't good enough for me. I asked Mike if he could somehow set up
a screening of one of my films for Sellers when we were in Paris. Mike dialed London from Sellers' suite, and a print of Charulata arrived from the London distributors the next morning. We screened it in a mini viewing theatre the same day. As the film ended and the lights came up, a red-eyed Sellers turned to me and said: "Why do you need me? I'm not better than your actors, you know!" Of course Sellers knew why we needed him. He was just being modest. At any rate he heard the story, said he liked the part, and asked Mike to keep in touch with his agents. Soon after this, Mike and I parted. He had to see about the fate of James Banda in Sri Lanka while pursuing The Alien and I to sit at home and await word from him.
 
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