Thursday, 23 December 2010

Shakha Proshakha [The Branches of a Tree] (1990)

Shakha Proshakha happened to be made at the fag end of Sayajit Ray’s illustrious career, and as health issues had restricted outdoor shoots, he had to make the film almost completely indoors. Yet, the film turned out to be extremely good – a terrific examination of familial guilt and retribution. I like to place it as the middle ground between Aranyer Din Ratri, one of Ray’s many masterpieces, and Utsab, a Rituparno Ghosh classic. When Ananda (Ajit Bannerjee), one of the most respected members of his town and the patriarch of a large Bengali family, has a sudden heart attack during a felicitation ceremony during his 70th birth anniversary, his three sons – a well-established company man (Haradhan Bannerjee), a smart businessman (Deepankar Dey), his beautiful but ambiguous wife (Mamata Shankar), and a self-righteous man who has left his former job to pursue career in theatre (Ranjit Mullick), visit his large ancestral home along with their families. Also residing with their father is one of his sons (Soumitra Chatterjee) who had been struck with accident and is now a mentally ill middle-aged man who spends long hours listening to Western Classical music. This slow-paced movie is an acute examination of not just complex family dynamics, but also of the fast-changing family values especially pertinent for an educated middle-class Indian family. The movie is also about generational clash and crisis, and coming to terms with one’s life amidst societal evolution.

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

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