DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (GANASHATRU) (director/writer: Satyajit Ray; screenwriter: from a play by Henrik Ibsen; cinematographer: Barun Raha; editor:  Dulai Dutta; music:  Satyajit Ray; cast: Soumitra Chatterjee (Dr. Ashok Gupta), Dhritiman Chatterjee (Nishith Gupta), Dipankar Dey (Haridas Bagchi), Mamata Shankar (Indrani Gupta), Manoj Mitra (Adhir), Ruma Guhathakurta (Maya Gupta, doctor's wife), Subhendu Chatterjee (Biresh Guha); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: National Film Development Corporation of India; Criterion Eclipse series 40; 1989-India-in Bengali with English subtitles)

"It's Ray's first film after a heart attack four years ago, and his doctors insisted it had to be a studio film. That the film is so dull can't be blamed on the doctors."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director-writer Satyajit Ray ("Distant Thunder"/"The Stranger"/"The Home and The World") updates and transfers the play "An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen to Bengal. It's a tale about the idealistic Dr. Ashok Gupta (Soumitra Chatterjee), from the small town of Chandipur, near Calcutta, who after sending for a water analysis discovers the recent jaundice epidemic is caused by the contaminated holy water from the popular temple, a major tourist attraction. Instead of applauded for his discovery and his call for proper health measures be taken seriously that the temple replace the defective pipes or close, the ignorant treat him with rancor while the town leaders fear this news will stop tourists from coming. As a result his medical career, in the town he loves, is threatened.

Though the acting is fine the film weakens Ibsen's play, as it offers a one-sided debate between the role of religion, reduced to superstition, and science in contemporary India.

It's Ray's first film after a heart attack four years ago, and his doctors insisted it had to be a studio film. That the film is so dull can't be blamed on the doctors.

REVIEWED ON 3/22/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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