Indian Cinema

Aakrosh, 1980

An off-screen narrator dispassionately delivers the terse news account that on December 25, 1978, the body of an Adivasi tribeswoman named Lahanya Nagi (Smita Patil), was found at the bottom of a dry, abandoned well near the village of Kondachiwadi, as the image of the somber faces of a group of resigned villagers, having quietly… read more »

The Stranger, 1991

Anila Bose (Mamata Shankar) receives a curious letter sent from New Delhi, affectionately referring to her as “baby”, presumably from her uncle, Manmohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt). Having left Calcutta immediately after his graduation when Anila was only two years old, Manmohan is eager to reunite with his sole surviving relative, imploring on her sense of… read more »

The Middleman, 1976

The Middleman opens with a shot of a disinterested proctor monitoring the History final examination at Calcutta University. A student hides a note inside a cigarette box and passes it to Somnath (Pradip Mekherjee), who chooses not to participate in the rampant cheating, and passes on the note to his childhood friend, Sukumar (Gautam Chakravarti)…. read more »

Distant Thunder, 1973

In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Japan, having successfully secured and occupied Singapore, advanced the emperor’s ambitious military operation to India’s neighboring country of Burma. In response to the nation’s aggressive Asian campaign, the British sought to regain and reinforce strategic Allied positions in the Pacific by stemming the tide of… read more »

The Adversary, 1972

While not as overtly political as contemporary filmmaker Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray’s early 1970s films similarly capture the volatile climate of geopolitical unrest, profound social transformation, and domestic crisis stemming from the introduction of Naxalism into an increasingly radicalized Calcutta student movement. In a way, The Adversary represents this fomenting cultural revolution in its bracing… read more »

Seemabaddha (Company Limited), 1971

While the other two films in Satyajit Ray’s Calcutta trilogy – Pratidwandi (The Adversary) and Jana Aranya (The Middleman) – show the bleak prospects of college-educated young men struggling to carve out their own futures in the charged, sociopolitical climate of early 1970s Calcutta, the middle film in the trilogy, Seemabaddha (Company Limited) poses a… read more »

Kapurush-o-Mahapurush, 1965

On the surface, Satyajit Ray’s diptych, Kapurush-o-Mahapurush (The Coward and The Holy Man) seems an unlikely pairing: one, a stranded screenwriter’s encounter with a lost love amidst the remote plantations of Darjeeling; the other, a hapless suitor’s attempts to wrest his beloved from the influence of a silver-tongued charlatan. But beyond the presence of a… read more »

Charulata, 1964

Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), or “Charu” as she is affectionately called, lives the privileged life of the Bengali upper class in the late nineteenth century. She is highly intelligent and creative, but her social status limits her opportunities for personal growth, and she is left with empty diversions that provide little challenge: embroidering handkerchiefs, managing the… read more »

Mahanagar, 1963

A young girl named Bani (Jaya Bhaduri) diligently studies for her exams. Her father, Subrata (Anil Chatterjee) asks, “Is it worth it? You’ll end up in the kitchen, like your mother.” The words are intended to be a playful tease, but they speak volumes about the role of women in society. It is the early… read more »

Teen Kanya, 1961

Composed of three stories based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short fiction that span a range of ages, each shot in a different narrative genre – a social realist drama, a ghost story, and a romantic comedy – Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya (Three Daughters) is a lucid panorama on the lives of society’s referential daughters and their… read more »