January 08, 2012

Mahanagar — Satyajit Ray

Movies as fantasy and movies as reality. It's the relentless depiction of reality that is so awe-inspiring about Ray's films.

The tears shed somehow appear real and affect you deeply.

Ray in fact raises expectations so high that I feel like I must point out the only things that I felt were missing: a clothesline and the location of the bathroom in the house.

I am curious where the family would have hung its clothes to dry and if they had a common or shared bathroom or an exclusive one.

To talk about the particulars of the story and the characters involved, the couple at the center of the story seems pretty grounded.

It's a family in some financial trouble. This necessitates the daughter-in-law to get a job which is considered shameful in traditional society. So a generational battle ensues between the old-fashioned old man and his son and son's wife.

We see how holding a job changes the lady in various ways — above all making her confident about dealing with people outside of her family circle.

We see by the end of the movie that she has a sure sense of her moral compass when she chooses to take the side of her colleague rather strongly and confront the boss.

The movie ends with the couple out there in the big city struggling with the vagaries of life as so many other couples and individuals.

Ray's movies do not feature walks into sunsets or dancing around trees. What I remember is the old mom wiping her tears and serving the fish head (the most delicious part perhaps?) to the daughter-in-law on a leaking and bent steel plate. Only a genius movie-maker would depict that.
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