Friday 28 May 2010

Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People) [1989]

Ganashatru, --> literally ‘An Enemy of the People’, was master auteur Satyajit Ray’s adaptation of the legendary play of the same name by Henrik Ibsen. Ray’s health was deteriorating alarmingly during this time and he was compelled to have a pacemaker placed in him. Consequently, the shooting was confined mostly to interiors. Having said that, though the film is considered among Ray’s lesser works, it was a pretty tight, engaging and competent film nonetheless – such is the quality of Ray’s oeuvre. The film, set in a small, peaceful town near Calcutta, has at its forefront the age-hold struggle between faith and science. Ashoke Gupta, a revered doctor who, while investigating a series of jaundice cases, becomes convinced that the ‘holy water’ being provided by a popular temple is the cause of those cases. And that sets him on collision course with his self-serving younger brother, who also happens to be the Mayor of the town, and who is absolutely opposed to Ashoke’s wanting to educate the people of it either through a newspaper article or ia public speaking. The film, which has a reasonably satisfying climax, is solidly performed by a motley crew of such respected actors like (Ray favourite and regular) Soumitra Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Mamata Shankar, Dipankar Dey et al.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Drama/Social Drama
Language: Bengali
Country: India


Sam Juliano said...

I didn't realize Ray was suffering from health issues at the time of the filming, though I did know he had a few heart attacks. He was a heavy smoker, and for him the gamble didn't work out. Anyway, this is a distinguished effort, even if you rightly liken it as minor compared to the masterpieces we both revere. Soumitra Chatterjee was excellent here in this renowned adaptation of the justly-famous Ibsen work. Typically all-seeing capsule!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam for stopping by. Yes, he was a heavy smoker, as most 'intellectual' Bengalis are. In fact, not surprisingly, the character of 'Feluda', who closely resembled its creator Ray, and who featured in numerous books as well as 2 films of his (the ever popular Sonar Kella aka The Golden Fortress & the absolutely brilliant Joi Baba Felunath aka The Elephant God), was also a chain smoker.

Alex DeLarge said...

A lesser Ray film would be a career highlight to most other Directors! This reminds me of the need to review the APU Trilogy:)

Shubhajit said...

Well said, and I concur with you on that. Ganashatru would have featured as a career highlight for most filmmakers - that was the level of quality that Ray maintained throughout his career. I'd sure look forward to read you take on Apu Trilogy, arguably Ray's most celebrated work, though not necessarily his best ever.