When all the flights are booked, Arindan, a star of Bengali films, is forced to take the train from Calcutta to New Delhi in order to receive an award. Habituated to admiring crowds around him it is a young journalist, Aditi, who engages his attention. Lucidly, and critical of the function of a star, she interrogates him and compels him to re-examine his life. Through the bond that develops between them, the hero reviews his actor’s life, his moments of strength and moments of crisis, and is again stricken by doubt. In the end, the journalist chooses to suppress the confidences the hero has revealed in order to allow him to preserve his public image. –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
When it comes to cinematic storytelling, Satyajit Ray is a consummate craftsman. Though I have only seen a few of his movies, I have yet to be disappointed by one. He made filmmaking seem so effortless. The Hero is about a superstar actor traveling by train to Delhi to receive an award, but despite his apparent success, he is not satisfied with his life, and when a young journalist begins to probe him he soon spills all to her. The best moments here are the ones that make use of the cinematic space of the train cars. Ray's frames are packed tightly, and one begins to feel the sweaty and tense nature of these cramped spaces. What I found to be quite interesting is how influenced by some of the Hollywood masters Ray was. His focus here on a panorama of characters, their interactions and dialogue, setting the action over a small space of time, the chaotic ending, the naturalistic acting, and the controlled use of expressionistic sequences all called to mind Hawks, but Ray had a quieter, lighter touch. He was content just to observe as opposed to getting in the middle of the action, and when he did switch to a subjective viewpoint it was for effect. And there was a strong attention to detail here, the camera lingers on characters after the action has finished, watches them during their more mundane moments, relishes in the little things. And the ending is surely one of the most perfect I have seen in a while. The image of the hero wreathed with flowers, looking off to the world almost aloof, but at the same time very much aware, we wonder if he will seize the second chance he has been given, but like everything else in the film it is a quiet ambiguity, content to be what it is.
This is what happened when a master takes inspiration from anither master and create a master-work that shines on its own. Satyajit Ray's 'Nayak' is his attempt to create Bergman's 'Wild Strawberries' magic once again, and what an astounding result we have in our hands. A beautiful and poetic movie, reamarably brilliant acting by Uttam Kumar ... An outstanding movie. Highly Recommended!