This anthology film was released in India as "Three Daughters".
It was a feature composed of three episodes: The Postmaster - 56
min., Monihara - 61 min., and Samapti - 56 min. Monihara (The Lost
Jewels) was left out from the international release probably due
to concerns about length and subtitles not being ready for Monihara.
The female characters that are central to the stories link the three
episodes. Ray adapted three short stories by Rabindranath Tagore
as a tribute to the author to mark his birth centenary in 1961.
He also made a documentary "Rabindranath
" as part of the celebrations.
The Postmaster Nandalal (Anil Chatterjee), a young man arrives from
Calcutta as the postmaster of a small village Ratan (Chandana Banerjee),
a pre-adolescent orphan girl, is his housekeeper/maid. Though only
a child herself, she cooks, cleans and cares for Nandalal.
Nandalal, a city bred young man, is like a fish out of water in
the village. He is bored. On an impulse and probably to kill time,
he begins teaching her to read and write. She responds eagerly.
A tender bond develops. Ratan is devoted and waits on him. For Nandalal,
however, she is just a pastime.
When Nandalal contracts malaria, Ratan nurses him back to health.
But he has had enough of the rural life and resigns. Ratan is heartbroken.
He prepares to leave without realizing how attached to him Ratan
Ratan is hurt when Nandalal offer her some money as a tip for her
services. We see her passing by Nandalal carrying a pail of water.
She has been crying but too proud to accept the tip. A few moments
later we hear her voice. She is informing the new postmaster that
she has brought water for him.
Nandalal is overwhelmed by emotions as he stares at the money in
his hand. Putting the money back in pocket, he walks away.
Monihara (The Lost Jewels)
Near an abandoned mansion, the village schoolteacher (Gobinda Chakravarti)
recounts a story to a hooded man.
It seems that the house was inhabited by a man Phanibhusan (Kali
Banerjee) and his wife Manimalika (Kanika Majumdar).
The wife is obsessed with jewels and ornaments. She accumulates
jewels by nagging her husband. Though they have been married for
a long time, she is very cold to him. The husband keeps buying jewels
for her in hope of gaining her love.
She has a phobia that one day he may ask the jewels back. A fire
destroys his business. To confirm her fear, she offers to sell her
jewels. But when he shows some interest in the idea she retreats
When the husband is away to raise money, she calls her cousin to
escort her to her parents' house. The cousin, though, has other
plans for the jewels. We see the wife for the last time as they
leave the house with all the jewels.
The husband is puzzled at the missing wife and the jewels. He is
haunted by what seems to be her ghost. After a series of such incidents,
he finds himself facing the ghost of his wife, a black silhouetted
figure. The black figure claims be his wife. Afraid, he reaches
for a jewel box that he had brought for her on his last trip. The
black figure, still wearing gold bangles, charges to grab the jewel
box with a horrible laugh.
After listening to the tale, the hooded man says that he has enjoyed
the story but it has many errors. He reveals that he is the husband
in the story and disappears.
Samapti (The Conclusion)
Amulya (Soumitra Chatterjee
is returning to his village after passing his exams in Calcutta
to spend some time with his widowed mother. After getting down from
the boat as he struggles in the muddy path, he senses that someone
is following him. Soon he finds out it is a tomboyish teenager Mrinmoyee
(Aparna). She bursts into giggles at his plight and runs away.
The mother has arranged for him to marry the daughter of a respectable
family. Much against his wishes he goes to visit the girl in a nearby
village, carrying an umbrella and wearing shinning shoes. The girl
is very conventional and he is forced to admire her needlework,
singing and her other skills.
Suddenly, Mrinmoyee, known as Paglee (madcap) charges in following
her pet squirrel. Then he finds his shoes gone. As he sets out to
walk back to his village, he finds one of his missing shoes in the
mud path. Amulya captures the culprit, Mrinmoyee. It is now her
turn to fall in the slushy mud. Amulya is amused and probably also
Against his mother's wishes, he marries Mrinmoyee. On their
first night together, she escapes by climbing down a tree and spends
the night on her favorite swing on the riverbank. It is scandal.
She is locked in her room and in a childish tantrum throws thing
at Amulya. He returns to Calcutta and she is sent back to her mother's
house. . Once he is gone, she realize how much she really loves
His mother makes Amulya come back on a false pretext of her illness.
Amulya goes in search of Mrinmoyee in rain. Unable to find her he
returns, only to find her in his room. He asks her how she managed
to sneak in. She replies, 'By climbing the tree, but I'll
not do it again'. She is no longer a childish madcap but a
grown woman in love..
The Postmaster is definitely one among the best films by Satyajit
Ray. Simple narrative, straightforward story telling and brilliant
performances by Chandana Banerjee as Ratan and Anil Chatterjee as
the postmaster, Nandalal. Very touching but without any hint of
melodrama, the parting of the postmaster and Ratan is pure cinema
at its best. The sequence has very little dialogue.
All three stories are individual films in their own right and representative
of Ray's many films.
What others say...
"The Postmaster - a story of betrayal - is a
pure and simple small masterpiece; the second, "The Conclusion,"
has some memorable scenes, beauty, and wit but also has some defects
of rhythm, so it is merely wonderful..."
- Pauline Kael
"If I were forced to pick only one work by Ray to show to someone
unfamiliar with him, it would have to be Three Daughters"
- Andrew Robinson (Ray's Biographer)