The Big City (1963) (Mahanagar)
Director: Satyajit Ray Music: Satyajit Ray
Writer: Satyajit Ray (Based on a short story by Narendranath Mitra)
Cast: Madhabi Mukherjee, Anil Chatterjee, Haren Chatterjee, Sefalika Devi, Prasenjit Sarkar, Vicky Redwood
131min Drama (India) Bengali with English subtitles
Satyajit Ray found international fame with his 1955 Palme D’Or Winner Pather Panchali
Sombre in tone and intimate in feel, The Big City, is nevertheless an enduring story with universal appeal that carries a message of hope. In fifites Calcutta, a simple family’s dynamic shifts gradually when the wife and mother takes a job to supplement the family income during a period of social and economic upheaval.
In her debut role for the legendary director, Madhabi Mukherjee is quietly appealing as Arati, bringing genuine warmth and authenticity as a woman whose primary aim is to be loving and supportive to her son Pintu (Prasenjit Sarkar), husband Subrata (Anil Chatterjee) and his parents. But Subrata’s ego and pride are challenged by Arati’s new-found confidence in the workplace, placing a strain on their homelife and calling into question his status as breadwinner and head of the household. With great subtlety and perception and an atmospheric score, Satyajit Ray tenderly evokes how change can affect the status quo in a marriage, sending ripples of discontent capable of causing family breakdown. Arati is a sensitive and unselfish woman and with her considerable charm, Ray illustrates how she cleverly keeps the family together. A low-key delight. MT.
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