The action, which occurs in a tiny village in 1943, during World War II, is based on the man-made famine that caused the deaths of five million inhabitants of Colonial Bengal.
Gangacharan, a Brahmin recently settled in the village with his wife Ananga, decides to start a school in exchange for being supported by the villagers. Airplanes disturb the peaceful sky, a metaphor for the disruption of traditional life of the villagers by War in Europe. It causes the price of rice to increase rapidly. This causes hardship for and rioting by the villagers and hoarding of grain by merchants. Gangacharan, shrewd, manages to initially keep himself supplied with food in exchange for his services. However conditions begin to deteriorate rapidly. Anaga is molested while hunting for edible roots in the lush forest, highlighting the irony of the situation: there is no drought and the fields have produced a good harvest that season. The film ends with Anaga telling Ganga about her pregnancy as a deluge of starving humanity approaches them. –Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center
Satyajit Ray is one of cinema’s truest Renaissance men. In addition to his films, he is a reputed writer of short stories, a music composer (scores for his own films and other film-makers, notably Merchant-Ivory’s Shakespeare Wallah) and a painter and graphic designer of considerable skill. Appropriately enough, Ray derived from a background of great culture, the son of poet Sukumar Ray who died when he was three years old. His interest in fine arts, literature and painting led him to reside at Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan (an intellectual retreat for artists and thinkers) for a significant period of time. Ray’s true love however was the cinema. The cinema of 30s Hollywood, which included Fred Astaire musicals and comedies by Ernst Lubitsch; Russian films he devoured in repeated viewings at the Calcutta Film Society (which he co-founded in 1947) and later the Italian neorealist films which he discovered in London.
At the time of the Second World War, and the final period of… read more
What is there to say, really? Just another almost yearly masterpiece by Ray. One of, if not, the best director ever to come out of Asia, and with access to the finest literature available.