Satyajit Ray Showcase: Charulata – his best movie ever?

I have been a huge fan of Satyajit Ray and he is unarguably one of the best directors that this country has ever produced. It has been a privilege for me to see his movies and appreciate the genius he was. Though I have seen most of his movies in my teenage and college days, I have been revisiting them again as I feel I will be able to appreciate the movies even more with more years behind me and thanks to interactions with several extremely knowledgeable people on forums like this. πŸ™‚

Tonight, I just finished watching this movie – Charulata (The lonely wife)

IMDB LINK

I believe this is the best movie ever made by Ray, not undermining his several other masterpieces. Though Apu trilogy is normally regarded as Ray’s best work, Charulata feels more complete, more subtle and cinematic-ally more fulfilling. It is like an orchestra where each musical instruments contribute in the right measure to create a magical symphony.

The film is based on a novel by Tagore set in the late 19th century… the period acts as an important backdrop in the film. The film totally manages to transport you in the bygone era with its authentic sets, costumes and references to the happenings around.

The film revolves around 3 main characters – the protagonist – Charulata, her husband Bhupati and BHupati’s brother Amol. Bhupati in a nice guy from the upper-class Bengali family, an intellectual and political idealist who is obsessed with his newspaper. He loves Charu but his overwhelming passion for his newspaper completely sidelines his relationship with his wife. Charulata feels increasingly lonely .. she spends the day doing normal household chores and reading novels .. Things change when his younger brother Amol arrives. Amol is a fresh graduate who is literally inclined and free-spirited, completely opposite to his brother. Amol and Charulata is drawn to each other instantly at first due to their interest in literature which later translates into something much more emotional and mutual attraction.. The movie is all about how the relationships develop between the three and slowly but surely the increasing distance between each of the three characters. There are many subtle emotions,nuances and complexities of human mind and relations. It is a perfect jugalbandi of Tagore’s literary skills and Ray’s craftsmanship on the celluloid. in the The climax is a masterpiece and the effect it creates will linger on your mind for a long time.

The film also boasts of some of Tagore’s best compositions which fit in nicely in the narrative and the background score is haunting as in most of Ray’s movies. The cinematography is equally brilliant and deserves a special mention. The cinematographer Subrata Mitra is regarded as one of the world’s best. Performances by all the three lead characters are outstanding.

Overall, a true classic from one of the legends of cinema. Take a bow!

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Would like to know opinion of Milu and Ritz and anyone else who have seen this movie and Ray’s other works. For those who haven’t seen it, please watch it! Fortunately, most of Ray’s movies are available online with English subtitles.

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10 Comments
  1. sputnik 7 years ago

    @narad,

    Thanks for this post. I will try to post this movie with English subtitles in a bit.

  2. Author
    narad_muni 7 years ago

    Satyajit Ray himself regarded Charulata as his best work ever…

    I guess the reason why Apu trilogy is more famous worldwide is because of the Western obsession of visualizing India as a poverty-ridden backward third world country.
    I am not undermining Apu’s trilogy – it is really a brilliant narration of a wonderful novel which celebrates the never-say-die human spirit in spite of all adversities. I just think this movie of Ray deserves more accolades and adulation than it gets.

  3. sputnik 7 years ago

    I found the movie online but can’t embed the movie here. So I am posting a different movie this week but will surely try to post it later.

    This is something I found about the movie online.

    “Charulata is based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore, Nastanirh (The broken Nest) and set in Calcutta in the late nineteenth century.”

    “Ray described the film as the one which has the least defects. In an interview with ‘Cineaste’ magazine, when asked about his most satisfying film, Ray said, “Well, the one film that I would make the same way, if I had to do it again, is Charulata.”

    • Author
      narad_muni 7 years ago

      Thanks for the link.. this is the interview I was referring to earlier

  4. fearlesssoul 7 years ago

    This movie should be my first priority this week. Well written btw.

  5. Serenzy 7 years ago

    Shilu,

    Well Written…Now right something abt the BO Preds of Future Biggies!
    πŸ˜›

    Haven’t seen any Ray work till date but heard abt it a lot(LOT..!!) …Will try & watch all his Great Work along with Passage of Time.

  6. Author
    narad_muni 7 years ago

    Thanks FS and Champu…
    n plz do watch the movie…

    Champu,
    Lets keep BO out of this thread… but ll write something soon πŸ™‚

  7. cr7 7 years ago

    agree . charulata is one of his best work . pather patchali is the only ray film i liked more than charulata.

    pather patchali ,charulata ,agantuk ,apur sangsar i loved most among ray’s films.

  8. fearlesssoul 7 years ago

    Thanks for suggesting this movie Shilac, I watched this movie yesterday and i really loved it… so Genuine but didn’t know it was bengali.. downloaded from torrentz which had eng sub titles.

    • Author
      narad_muni 7 years ago

      gr8 to know u liked it ..

      I ll try to post more stuff on Ray!

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