Parash Pathar was Satyajit Ray’s immediate follow-up to his celebrated Aparajito. The film bears the heavy (but never oppressive) influence of Ray’s idol, French filmmaker Jean Renoir. Tulsi Chakravetry plays Parresh Dutt, an elderly clerk who comes into possession of a stone that can turn the humblest mineral into gold. Attaining vast wealth overnight, Dutt finds that he is still persona non grata in High Society. Taking revenge on his “betters,” he uses his wonderful stone to destroy the economy. Realizing the damage that he’s done, the clerk sacrifices himself to set things right again. When first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958, Parash Pathar was greeted with amused indifference; critics and viewers alike preferred the profundity of Ray’s “Apu” trilogy to this modest little fable. Music by Ravi Shankar. Read More »
One of Satyajit Ray’s greatest early films, full of sensuality and ironic undertones, Devi is sufficiently critical of Hindu superstition that it was banned from foreign distribution until Nehru interceded. The plot concerns a wealthy and devout landowner in the 19th century who believes his daughter-in-law (Sharmila Tagore) is the reincarnation of the goddess Kali and convinces her that he’s right. With Soumitra Chatterji and Chhabi Biswas.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader Read More »
“Aparajito” is the second film of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu Trilogy’ (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar) continues to document the life and maturation of one young Indian boy. The film opens with Apu, son of Harihar and Sarbajaya, wandering and exploring the Temple City of Bananas on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges river) where they reside. The story focuses on Apu leaving the embrace of his family nest to work and become educated in a more modern world than what he has become accustomed in his youth. The struggle to remain separate is exemplified by the dire need of his Mother, Sarbajaya who is deathly ill and depressed. She remains desperately lonely in her small village after the death of her husband and departure of her son. Continuing the cycle of life Satyajit Ray continues to explore the inner conflicts of conforming to a more contemporary world than our parents. The strength to overcome our bonding of birth is another universal theme of traditional respect and independent personal advancement. Read More »
The opening shots of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata bypass melodrama for the feel of a fairy tale, with bored housewife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) flitting about her spacious Victorian home like Rapunzel amusing herself in her tower. Even shots that stay still for less than a second frame Charu behind bars, be it bedposts or the wooden blinds she jerks open in order to peer at the bustling city life below. Never again does the camera move as swiftly nor as giddily as it does when Charu, armed with a pair of binoculars, hustles along each window to follow the movement of a man she finds interesting. The scene ends as quickly as it came to life, nothing more than a fleeting distraction from the tedium of her sheltered existence. Read More »
Widely regarded as one of Satyajit Ray’s most magnificent films, “Days and Nights in the Forest” is a beautiful and touching story about four young middle class men who leave Calcutta to spend some time in an empty bungalow in the forests of Palmau.
Full of the confidence of the big city, and with little respect for the rural villagers, the boys learn several lessons about life and love as their conceited worldview is challenged by their experiences with the local girls of Palmau. Read More »
Both a romantic-triangle tale and a philosophical take on violence in times of revolution, The Home and the World, set in early twentieth-century Bengal, concerns an aristocratic but progressive man who, in insisting on broadening his more traditional wife’s political horizons, drives her into the arms of his radical school chum. Satyajit Ray had wanted to adapt Rabindranath Tagore’s classic novel to the screen for decades. When he finally did in 1984, he fashioned a personal, exquisite film that stands as a testament to his lifelong love for the great writer. Read More »
A boy named Apu is born to a poor but proud Brahmin family. His loving older sister, Durga, is a sweet girl, but has formed the bad habit of stealing fruit from an aunt’s orchard, much to her mother’s dismay. Their father Harihar, a poet and lay priest, finds a treasury job that will bring the family steady income for the first time in a while. For a brief period afterwards, their mother Sarbajaya manages to make ends meet, and the children are left to their own devices and run freely. But when Harihar loses his position, he leaves his family with depleted resources to search elsewhere for work. In his absence, their condition deteriorates. Months later, Harihar returns to face the tragedy that forces them to leave their ancestral home. This acclaimed debut by Satyajit Ray is the first part of a trilogy of poetic, lyrical works. Read More »