| 1962, India.
150 mins., B/W, In Bengali with subtitles
|Screenplay & Direction:
||Satyajit Ray form the novel “Abhijan” by
||Durgadas Mitra, Nripen Paul,
||Ruma Guha Thakurta
|Rama (Narsingh's assistant):
| Joseph's mother:
Ray's favorite actor Soumitra Chatterjee plays Narsingh, a taxi
driver. Narsingh is a proud and hot-tempered Rajput with a passion
for his car, a vintage 1930 Chrysler. He recklessly passes the
car of a powerful, local policeman and has his permit taken away.
It forces him to take refuge in a small town on the borders of
the states of Bengal and Bihar.
Sukhanram, a shady merchant, offers him a handsome fee to transport
some merchandise, and soon he finds himself into trafficking in
opium. The two main women characters Neeli and Gulabi form a contrast.
Narsingh is attracted to Neeli, a reserved Catholic schoolteacher.
She has no interest in Narsingh. The other female character is
warm, demonstrative and beautiful prostitute Gulabi. Gulabi has
an instinctive liking towards Narsingh.
Unaware that Neeli has already committed herself to another man,
a cripple, for Neeli’s sake, Narsingh begins to reform himself
and even takes interest in her religion. But soon finds himself
helping Neeli elope with her cripple lover.
He also is seduced by Sukhanram and his lawyer friends to enter into
a partnership and is even willing to sell off of his car to invest
in the smuggling venture. Confronted by Gulabi, his assistant Rama
and finally by Neeli’s brother Joseph, Narsingh realizes
Despite the romantic disillusion, he finds spiritual redemption
when in climatic sequence of events he splits with his smuggler
associates and rescues Gulabi from them. Narsingh is united with
the woman he truly loves.
Abhijan was Satyajit Ray's biggest box-office success in his
native Bengal. Soumitra Chatterjee appears a miscast for the rugged
character of Narsingh. He seems too sophisticated for the role
and his passion for his car seems a bit contrived. Superb performance
by Rabi Ghosh (Rama), Charuprasash Ghosh (Sukhanram), Ruma Guha
Thakurta (Neeli ) and Wahida Rehman (Gulabi).
The film was originally conceived by his friends. A producer friend,
Bijoy Chatterjee was to direct it. He had persuaded Ray to write
the script and help in pre-production of the film. As a friendly
gesture Ray agreed to direct the first scene on the first day of
the shoot. By end of the day Bijoy Chatterjee and friends had persuaded
Ray to direct the complete film. “They lost their nerve,” Ray
said. Ray, who is usually associated with gentle and contemplative
films, added a fight scene to Abhijan. He later admitted the fight
should have been better staged. The filming took place in 114-degrees
weather with the actors wearing heavy clothes to simulate winter.
So did he want more violence? "Oh, yes," Ray said. "I'd
have very much liked a John Ford-type rough-and-tumble."
- President's Silver Medal, New Delhi, 1962
Other Online Reviews
Satyajit Ray Film & Study Collection
Narsingh and Rama ©Teknica
Narsingh and Rama ©Teknica
Gulabi and Narsingh ©Teknica