(THE GODDESS) (director/writer:
Satyajit Ray; screenwriter: story by Prabhat Kumar
Mukherjee; cinematographer: Subrata Mitra; editor: Dulal
Dutta; music: Ali Akbar Khan; cast: Chhabi Biswas (Kalikinkar Roy), Soumitra Chatterjee (Umaprasad), Sharmila Tagore (Doyamoyee), Arpan Chowdhury (Khoka), Purnendu Mukherjee (Taraprasad), Karuna Bannerjee (Harasundari); Runtime: 93;
MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Satyajit Ray;
Mr. Bongo Films; 1960-India-in Bengali with English
"Ray's lyrical images reflect on how the fervor of Hinduism can sometimes lead to misplaced worship."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Satyajit Ray ("The Adversary"/"The Chess Players"/"The Music Room") debunks religious superstition, idol worship and unquestioning belief in miracles, as he tells a simple tale of falsely worshiping the Hindu goddess Kali as an icon. It's based on a story by Prabhat Kumar Mukherjee. It's set in 1860 at Chandipur, in rural Bengal, India.
Umaprasad (Soumitra Chatterjee) leaves his respected
landlord old-fashioned father's rural mansion and the
father's looked after by his beautiful 17-year-old
wife Doyamoyee (Sharmila Tagore) as he goes to study
English in Calcutta. The elderly ailing widower,
Kalikinkar Roy (Chhabi
Biswas), has a
vision one night that Doya is the reincarnation of the
goddess Kali and bows to her in devotion. He also
insists everyone else in the household worship her as
a goddess, as Roy's weakling oldest son (Purnendu Mukherjee) and sharp-tongued wife (Karuna Bannerjee) feel humiliated. Doya
also looks after her young nephew Khoka (Arpan Chowdhury), whom she finds
One day a desperate father
shows up with his dying son, and begs for Doya to cure
him. Miraculously the child is cured. Word spreads and
the ailing from all over India come to Doya to be
cured, and she begins to like being thought of as Kali
and goes along with it. The concerned Umaprasad returns home, and
tries to rescue her from the superstitious belief but
can't reason with her or his fanatical father. When
Khoka falls ill, he's placed in Doya's care. Without
proper medical attention, he soon dies. Khoka's death
shatters Doya's fragile psyche and she goes insane.
The last shot has her running away in a field and
disappearing into a mist, as hubby desperately calls
for her return.
Ray's lyrical images reflect on how the fervor of
Hinduism can sometimes lead to misplaced worship. His
reflections on Hinduism
are similar to Bunuel's on Christianity.
REVIEWED ON 8/24/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ