The second film (1971) of Satyajit Ray’s “Calcutta Trilogy” doesn’t feel as urgent as the first, The Adversary (1970), but it’s still a stinging portrait of West Bengal’s upper middle class. It centers on the high-level manager of an international fan company (Barun Chanda), considering both his domestic and professional life. Ray presents the character as a self-serving hypocrite who has no qualms about overlooking others’ needs in order to advance his social standing, though in characteristically humanistic fashion, the director also shows him to be capable of sensitivity and self-reflection. The antihero begins to question his moral priorities when he receives a visit from his purehearted sister-in-law (Ray regular Sharmila Tagore); Ray hints at the possibility that he might learn from the woman’s example and change his ways. He doesn’t, but Ray illustrates the character’s failing is not simply his own but also a reflection of his class. Ray’s editing here is consistently surprising, even Godardian; the film succeeds smashingly on a formal level as well as a sociological one. In English and subtitled Bengali.
1 hour 50 min • 1971