| 1963, India.
131 min, B/W, In Bengali with subtitles
||RDB & Co (R.D. Bansal
/ (RDB Productions)
|Screenplay & Direction:
||Satyajit Ray, Based on a short
story "Abataranika" by Narendranath Mitra
||Debesh Ghosh, Atul Chatterjee,
|Mukherjee, Arati's boss:
Calcutta, mid 1950s. The film opens with a vignette of a lower
middle-class family. We meet the joint-family: Subrata Mazumdar
(Anil Chatterjee), his wife Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), their young
son, Subrata's unmarried sister Bani (Jaya Bhaduri), his father,
a retired schoolmaster, and his mother.Subrata Mazumdar, a bank
employee, with his meagre income finds it difficult to provide
for his large joint family. His father needs a new pair of prescription
glasses, younger sister Bani's school fee is due, and mother needs
a new can of Zardah (tobacco)...
Arati is like an anchor holding the family together. Subrata talks
about a couple where the woman too is going to work. Soon, Arati
makes up her mind to take up a job to supplement the household
income. With some help from Subrata, and much against established
custom and opposition of the elders, she finds a job of selling
sewing machines door-to-door.
Going out to work, Arati discovers a new life. She proves successful
in her work and gains self-confidence. Subrata now feels insecure
and resentful. His father too puts pressure on his son to force
Arati to quit the job. Subrata asks Arati to quit as he plans to
earn more by moonlighting.
The next morning, before Arati can give in her resignation, Subrata
telephones her and asks her not to resign as he has lost his job.
Now, Arati is the only earning member of the family. Subrata suffers
as he watches his wife go out while he sits in bed and scans newspapers
for jobs' columns. They begin to grow apart.
Arati has found a new friend in a colleague - Edith, an Anglo-Indian
woman. Her boss does not like Edith due to her being an offspring
of 'our ex-rulers.' Blinded by his prejudice, he accuses Edith
of loose character and fires her. Arati asks her boss to apologise
to Edith. He refuses and warns her about her own job. Arati hands
over her old resignation letter and walks away.Now neither Arati
nor her husband has a job. On her way out, she meets Subrata. After
the initial shock, they reconcile and are close to each other once
again. Subrata understands her. Arati ponders that in such a big
city at least one of them is sure to find a job. As they walk into
the city crowd, the camera tilts up to a street lamp.
In her first Ray film, Madhabi Mukherjee, gives a wonderful
portrayal of Arati. Contrary to the general belief, She was not
a discovery of Satyajit Ray. It was her performance in Mrinal Sen's
Baisey Sravan (1959) that prompted Ray to cast her as Arati. She
appeared in two other films of Ray: Charulata
Lonely Wife, 1964) and Kapurush
Coward, 1965). Uncharacteristically for Ray, this collaboration
came to an end with Kapurush though she continued to work as an
The confined and gloomy but intimate atmosphere of the joint family
was created with the sets for the house having very small rooms
with fixed walls. Ray told his biographer, Andrew
, " In those days I don't think anyone built four-walled
rooms. It gave us very little room to move about, so there are
no long shots at all."
What others say...
" The film does what it sets out to do, and it's perceptive
and revealing; it stays with one. Yet it is very quiet and rather
thin; it lacks the depths and richness and creative imagery of
the best of Satyajit Ray."
- Pauline Kael
" Ray has an unmatched feeling for the moments when a situation caches people
unawares and minds perceptibly expand or contract when confronted with some infinitesimal
- Penelope Houston, Spectator, May 17, 1968
- Certificate of Merit, New Delhi, 1964
- Silver Bear For Best Direction, Berlin, 1964
Other Online Reviews
- movie clip
Subrata (Anil Chatterjee), his sister (Jaya Bhaduri) and Arati (Madhabi
Subrata's father, Arati's father and Subrata ©Teknica
Arati and Edith ©Teknica
Arati played by Madhabi Mukherjee ©Teknica
Arati and Edith ©Teknica
Madhabi Mukherjee ©Teknica