|MAHANAGAR (THE BIG CITY) (director/writer: Satyajit Ray; screenwriter: from a story by Narendranath Mitra; cinematographer: Subrata Mitra; editor: Dulal Dutta; music: Satyajit Ray; cast: Madhabi Mukherjee (Arati), Anil Chatterjee (Subrata), Haradhan Banerjee (Mr. Mukkerjee), Haren Chatterjee (Subrata's Father), Shephalika Devi (Subrata's Mother), Vicky Redwood (Edith Simmons), Jaya Bhaduri (Bani, Sister), Prasenjit Sarkar (Pintu, Brother); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: R. D. Bansal; Reliance Home Video; 1963-India--in Bengali with English subtitles)|
Ozu-like family drama."
by Dennis Schwartz
great filmmaker Satyajit Ray ("The Music
Room"/"Apu Trilogy"/"Two Daughters"), the
writer-director of this black and white shot lyrical
Ozu-like family drama, set in 1955 Calcutta, at a time
of an economic crisis and a bank crash, is adapted by
Ray from a story by Narendranath
Mitra. Though overlong and slow-moving, it's
excellently crafted and acted.
traditional marriage of lower-middle-class Calcutta
residing bank accountant husband Subrata (Anil
Chatterjee) and his devoted homebody wife
Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee) is
shaken when to make ends meet Arati is determined to
get a job and help with the family financial woes. The
traditionalist Subrata is not enthused with the idea
of his wife working. Subrata's elderly
impoverished out of work teacher father (Haren
Chatterjee), busy doing crossword puzzles
to win prize money, and his conservative mother (Shephalika
Devi), more vehemently object. AnywayArati
applies and gets hired by the firm owned by Mr.
Mukkerjee (Haradhan Banerjee)
to sell knitting machines door-to-door.
Their studious teenage daughter (Jaya
Bhaduri) fully supports mom, while her
younger brother (Prasenjit Sarkar) is
around for comic relief.
couple hope to win father over by buying him
eyeglasses with the extra money earned. But father
visits a former pupil, now an optometrist, and after
maligning his son for not supporting him gets a free
pair of glasses. Meanwhile Arati is a hard worker and
impresses her affable boss, who is thinking she has
good potential to be promoted to manager. At home her
old-fashioned father-in-law refuses her financial help
and hubby feels threatened as the family head when he
loses his job over the bank crash and his wife becomes
the sole bread winner. In embarrassment he begs her to
proves to be a gentle but powerful satirical
humanistic domestic drama that provides both low-key
comedy and insight into how women were viewed during
that period in India and of how financially unstable
was the emerging economy, and how the push for
equality between the sexes became a reality in the
changing modern period.
Madhabi Mukherjee's sympathetic performance as the timid housewife who progresses as the confident working woman keeps the film appealing, while Ray's observant direction earned him in 1964 the Best Director prize in Berlin.
REVIEWED ON 3/15/2014 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ