Satyajit Ray‘s <Mahanagar(The Big City)> isn't one of his greatest films. But that doesn't mean is a real turkey. Comparing <Mahanagar> with other his films (<Devi> and <Teen Kanya>, only I've watched), it looks just simple.  

The story is, roughly speaking, about women's sense of achievement through their work during the era of the developing country. And also, is about irony like Satyajit Ray‘s other films.  

Calcutta, mid 1950s. There is a big family: Subrata Mazumdar, his wife Arati, their young son, Subrata's younger sister, his father and his mother. Subrata, a bank employee, with his meagre income finds it difficult to provide for his large joint family. Arati is like an anchor holding the family together.  

One day, 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 opposition of her parents-in-law, 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. But Subrata feels insecure and resentful because his father too puts pressure on his son to force Arati to quit the job. So, Subrata asks Arati to quit.  

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.    



It is very interesting because <Mahanagar> says a same story like 1960~70's Korean films. We have same stories like this. To overcome suffering and achieve success. Because of a familiar story, it looks like Korean movie in that era dubbed Hindi.  

But why the title is "the Big City" instead of "The Big Family" or "Woman?" Satyajit Ray advances more. He suddenly talks about "meta-things." The rest of the story about <Mahanagar>: Arati has found a new friend in a colleague - Edith, an Anglo-Indian woman. But Her boss does not like Edith. Blinded by his prejudice, he accuses Edith of loose character and fires her. Arati asks her boss to apologize to Edith. He refuses and warns her about her own job. Arati hands over her old resignation letter and walks away. On her way out, she meets Subrata. After the initial shock, they reconcile and are close to each other once again. Arati ponders that in such a big city at least one of them is sure to find a job.    



Well, I think this part is unnecessary. Satyajit Ray shows everything through the conflict with Subrata, his father and her wife Arati. We can presume his intention which he wants to talk. But this part (the end, the conclusion, and so whatever!) reveals all directly. Owing to it, movie turns to be simple. If not, <Mahanagar> would be the proud one in his carrier.  

But I enjoyed this film, and I relieved Satyajit Ray's a just man to make a movie. I thought he was a genius or god of the cinema. This (tiny) failure shows Satyajit Ray's humanity - the ability to make mistake. <Mahanagar> is not stunning, but it's attracted to me since when I watched it.   




Among his films I really like a firm attitude of female characters like following: 

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I've Never seen this kind of movie. <Teen Kanya> consists of three episode. We call it omnibus movie. But most of omnibus flims are made up of each director's short flim. Or some cases gathering one director's short flims which have been released are there (e.g. <Coffee and Cigarettes> by Jim Jarmusch). Hong Sang Soo's <Oki's Movie> is also composed of 4 episodes, but most of actors in it starred the whole epsodes, and even they switched their roles per episode. They are linked 4 each episode and it looks like "feature" flim. (Some Jim Jarmusch's flims are similar like this). But Satyajit Ray's <Teen Kanya> is totally different. This movie was produced and directed for a "feature" but each episode seems independent (like a short flim). These 3 episodes in common are "Tagore". <Teen Kanya>'s all 3 episodes are based upon short stories by Rabindranath Tagore. Satyajit Ray was made a documentary about Rabindranath Tagore in 1961, same year. In other words, <Teen Kanya> is dedicated to Rabindranath Tagore in his own way. And for we Koreans, how Rabindranath Tagore is familiar to us (We Koreans probably learned Tagore's 「The Song of Defeated」 if don't know about him at all)!   

<Teen Kanya> is composed of <The Postmaster>, <Monihara (The Lost Jewels)>, and <Samapti (The Conclusion)>.   


The first, <The Postmaster> is a simple story. One young man comes to work as a postmaster in a rural area. A young girl, Ratan is in the post office. She's a maid and working for the postmaster. The postmaster is from Calcutta, so he is bored in a small village. For fun, he teaches Ratan to read and write, but she accepts eagerly and truly. One day, he has malaria Ratan nurses him back to health. But he thinks that has had enough of the rural life and resigns. Ratan is heartbroken to hear that.   

We can't see any special or unnatural event but the routine of everyday life. However, Satyajit Ray show us surprising and stunning moment from the routine of daily life in <The Postmaster>. In the last scene, the postmaster and Ratan met on the street. He is leaving and Ratan is working (carrying water pot). He tries to pay Ratan for the service he has been but Ratan is just passing by. And She speaks to the new postmaster loudly. "Master, I brought you water!" There're a lot of great things in it. We know what they are, but we can't talk about (or describe) them what they are. In this case, we call it "Cinematic Magic". Yes, great movies never tell profound philosophy or destiny of the world or whatever (Only Hollywood films do). They just show and make us "feel". <The Postmaster> took and shake my mind, so. How many times do I have to be surprised on earth? Per watching his films? Satyajit Ray is really GREAT! 

<The Postmaster> reminds me of Hong Sang Soo's <Ha Ha Ha> because they both extracted somethings exquisite from our mind without any dramatic accidents. They're real pure cinema. 


The second, <Monihara (The Lost Jewels)> is about "obsession". It's kind of a story within a story. On the street, a village schoolteacher tells a hooded man a tragedy he's written. This story is based on true story (or rumor). Rich man Fhanibhusan and his wife lives in a mansion like castle. They're been married for 10 years but they don't have any children. The husband doesn't matter but his wife seems to do. So she looks like being obsessed with ornaments instead of baby. In other words, the husband is obsessed with his wife's love. He keeps buying jewels for her in hope of gaining her love. One day, a fire destroys his business. She has a phobia that one day he may ask the jewels back. To confirm her fear, she offers to sell her jewels. But when he shows some interest in the idea she retreats in panic.  

There're three obsessions in here: the wife's obsession with jewels, the husband's obsession with her love, and even the village schoolteacher's obssion with a story. Each obsession destroys themselves and their obsessions influences each other. In Satyajit Ray's films, we often can see that characters are always weak and they always find and rely on something to support themselves. In this situation, the obsessions are (sort of) hope. But, what if "that something" disappears? And then, they would turn to doubt, distrust and horror. Satyajit Ray shows the process of being turned to, and this is really terrifying.  


In my opinion, I REALLY LOVE this kind of story: fall, betrayal, obsession and horror. So I'd rather love <Housemaid> by Im Sang Soo than Kim Ki Young's original one. Just my taste (or guilty pleasure). 


And the last, <Samapti (The Conclusion)> has a story with a happy ending only in <Teen Kanya>. But, is it really happy ending?  

Amulya 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 and Mrinmoyee (like a tomboy and known as Paglee) bursts into giggles at his plight and runs away. His 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. But Amulya is amused and probably also in love. Against his mother's wishes, he marries Mrinmoyee. On their first night together, she escapes and spends the night on her favorite swing on the riverbank. It is scandal. Amulya returns to Calcutta and she is sent back to her mother's house.  

There are two wild animals: Mrinmoyee and her pet "a little squirrel". They are free and don't be restrained by rule, custom, manners, traditions and so forth. Respectable and educated (or trained) people hate and despise doing like Mrinmoyee and her pet. Mrinmoyee puts her pet in the cage, and simultaneously she's being put in the cage called "a marriage". Marriage deprive Mrinmoyee of her free lifestyle. All custom and traditions people have made press human being themselves. 

Once Mrinmoyee's husband Amulya is gone, she realize how much she really loves him. That means she's not only ready to love her husband, but also ready to adapt herself to the system. When she changes her mind, her pet in the cage dies. When she makes up her mind to confess her love to him, she's as good as a corpse.   

The Conclusion (my gosh, it's a film title!) looks like happy ending. Yes, in Amulya's case, it is. But what about Mrinmoyee? Does it seems like happy ending because she finds a true love? OK, but, How about Amulya's mother? In the end, his mother comes to son's room but the door smashes in front of her. Their marriage makes the mother part from the son. This is irony we can see in the routine of the daily life. For this conclusion, some will feel happy, others sad, and still others weird. This is not happy ending. Ending is still open. 

I'm really surprised to <Samapti> because it changes its mood and genre continuously. Satyajit Ray's familiar with cinematic rules and techniques. Again, how many times do I have to be surprised on earth?  

In the point of view female character, <Samapti> reminds me of Byun Young-Joo's <Ardor>. Their stories looks very similar but different. <Samapti> is about "giving up and belonging to", <Ardor> is about "leaving and finding". 


I just wonder the running time. The "" says <Teen Kanya>'s running time: <The Postmaster> 56 min.; <Monihara> 61 min.; <Samapti> 56 min." But On the DVD, <The Postmaster> 42 min., <Monihara> 47 min., <Samapti> 72 min. Have I watched <Teen Kanya> right? The movie is impressive, but I'm really curious about.

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정민 2011-07-23 14:47   좋아요 0 | 댓글달기 | 수정 | 삭제 | URL
흠...그럼 영화를 DVD로 만들면서 다 짤라먹었단 얘긴데, Samapti는 늘렸다?? 인도라는 나라, 종교와 계급의 제도없이는 유지될수 없었던 나라. 허나 사람들은 명상과 자유를 찾아 인도로 간다.. 언제나 삶은 아이러니. 뭐.. 세상엔 진실도 정답도 없으니, 그깟 상영시간 대강 적었나보지..ㅋㅋ

Tomek 2011-07-25 08:51   좋아요 0 | URL
음... 그렇게 간단하게 생각하면 되는 거였냐? ㅡ.ㅡ;;;
역시 아이러니군~ :D

정민 2011-07-23 14:54   좋아요 0 | 댓글달기 | 수정 | 삭제 | URL
아... 그나저나, 밀애... 레오스까락스 이래로 내생애 최고의 작품인데.. 보고싶다!!!! ㅋㅋㅋㅋ

Tomek 2011-07-25 08:53   좋아요 0 | URL
<소년 소녀를 만나다>와 <나쁜 피>, <퐁네프의 연인들>까지는 정말 좋았었는데, 그 이후론 너무 아쉬운... ㅠㅠ 이젠 영화 안 찍나 몰라...


If you summarized the stories of all the movies, it would seem to be hoary old. All new kinds of films never tell a new story, but "show" it in a different way. Satyajit Ray, the great film director in India, did do. 

Satyajit Ray had been known to "few" Korean moviegores for only, and even, probably most of them haven't seen his works. There would be a lot of reasons, but sure thing is, Satyajit Ray and Idian films are uncharted territory to us. It would remain uncharted to me if my friends(Vijay, Aparna, and my brother-in-low Prem) didn't let me know and give me a present "Satyajit Ray's DVD Box Set". When I got it, I promised that I'd review each film as soon as watch it. And this is time to keep the promise. :)

<Devi (1960)> starts to show the process of how a simple model turning to be a Kali(a goddess in Hinduism) figure. This scene looks stunning (even don't know of Hindu religion), and implies what story goes on.  


In 1860 at Chandipur, in rural Bengal, India(On the DVD, can't find any information about region and era. They're taken from, Daya and her husband Uma live with Uma's family. His father is a respected landlord and a devotee of the goddess Kali. Since Uma is away at school (to pass the exam), Daya looks after her father-in-law and his family. One evening, Uma's father has a dream that Daya is an incarnation of Kali and must be worshipped as such. After hearing the news, Uma returns home but is unable to correct the situation because Daya herself begins to believe that she is a goddess Kali. And her belief turns to tragedy.  

<Devi> continually contrasts humanity and divinity, true nature and illusion, weak belief and blind faith, modernity and tradition (saying more, other religion[Christianity] and Hinduism, new generation and old one, belief and hope). You don't need to study of Hindu religion or Indian Myth to watch this film (If you know, will be more interesting, but that's not the theme). Satyajit Ray asks, if blind faith and miracle happened simultaneously, what would you do? Can you choose the right thing? Are you sure and confident who you are and what you're doing?  

In the film, Daya is a normal housewife (and only 17 years old!) but because of her father-in-law's vision(in fact, just dream!), she turns to be a living statue like a stone. However, she does a miracle(actually, coincidence) and beings to think "maybe" she is the goddess. And her blindness makes herself from the goddess to the demon. When breaking her faith, she looks mad. The uncertain faith can't maintain humans themselves. Satyajit Ray describes the weak human being. To support an imperfect human nature, we have a religion, but ironically, it could destroy us (like Kali does, who destroys). Yes, now I understood Vijay's saying. "Satyajit Ray is Akira Kurosawa in India." I totally agree with him, even though I've just watched only one movie. <Devi> is touching and twisting something inside me. I'm looking forward to finding what they are through watching Satyajit Ray's films.  


About the DVD, <Devi>'s picture quality is "disastrous", and all English subtitles are fixed (and some subtitles are missing). But, they're not bothering me (and my wife) to watch it because the movie's so great! To meet Satyajit Ray, this would be the magnificent thing among "the Top 5" in my life.  


Devi (Devanagari: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism. 

Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti, as she balances out the male aspect of the divine addressed Purusha. 

Devi is the supreme Being in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, while in the Smartha tradition, she is one of the five primary forms of God. In other Hindu traditions of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Devi embodies the active energy and power of male deities (Purushas), such as Vishnu in Vaishnavism or Shiva in Shaivism. Vishnu's shakti counterpart is called Lakshmi, with Parvati being the female shakti of Shiva.  



Kālī (Sanskrit: काली, IPA: [kɑːliː]; Bengali: কালী; Tamil: காளி), also known as Kalika (Bengali: কালিকা, Kālikā), is the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. "She who destroys".The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Kali means "the black one". Since Shiva is called Kāla - the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means "the Time" or "Death" (as in time has come). Hence, Kali is considered the goddess of time and change. Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shakta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatarini (literally "redeemer of the universe"). Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kali as a benevolent mother goddess. 

Kali is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. She is associated with many other Hindu goddesses like Durga, Bhadrakali, Sati, Rudrani, Parvati and Chamunda. She is the foremost among the Dasa Mahavidyas, ten fierce Tantric goddesses. 



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정민 2011-07-12 09:43   좋아요 0 | 댓글달기 | 수정 | 삭제 | URL
리뷰만 읽으면 진심으로 보고싶은 영화인데...?? 인도영화에도 이런영화가 있었다니 놀라울 따름... 난 다 볼리우드나 로봇같은줄말 알았쮜...ㅋㅋㅋ

Tomek 2011-07-12 20:16   좋아요 0 | URL
나도 인도영화는 전부 <춤추는 무뚜>인줄로만 알았다... :) 왜 고전인줄 알겠더구만.

Prem 2011-07-19 00:13   좋아요 0 | 댓글달기 | 수정 | 삭제 | URL
brilliant review, tomek. now i know why you turned out to be a movie impressed by your sharp interpreatation of this movie as well. you will be surprised - not many indians get it the first time they watch this movie. proud to have u as my bro-in-law:-))

Tomek 2011-07-19 09:22   좋아요 0 | URL
Thank you for your compliment! Honestly, I'd like to talk about a lot of things of , but, Alas, my poor English!
When do you have a plan to come HERE? I have some UNIQUE KOREAN FILM LISTS. When you come, I'll give them. Look forward to, joyfully!

See Ya! :D