Sunday, 12 June 2011
Charulata (The Lonely Wife) 
Satyajit Ray once mentioned, “… the one film that I would make the same way, if I had to do it again, is Charulata”. Adapted from a semi autobiographical novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore, this complex and haunting love triangle is set at the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance – a movement that led to the formation of “modern” India. Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee) is an upper class Bengali intellectual who is forever engrossed in the political newspaper he edits and prints; consequently Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), his beautiful and educated wife, has immersed herself into Bengali literature to alleviate her ennui. The arrival of Bhupati’s young cousin brother Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), a sensitive poetry-loving vagabond-at-heart, breaks her stupor, and before long, the emotionally fragile Charu finds herself falling for the bohemian Amal. The exquisitely paced film boasts of stirring performances by the three leads, with Madhabi and Soumitra’s being truly astounding. The film comprises of a slew of unforgettable moments, right from the opening where Charu is whiling her time with her opera-glasses, and the one with Charu riding on her swing in complete abandon (perhaps an homage to Kurosawa’s Ikiru), to the terrific freeze-framed finale (reminiscent of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows). The scene where Amal slowly looks towards Charu, who’s standing at a distance, while Bhupati is mournfully speaking on trust, oblivious to Charu’s growing feelings for Amal – well, that was devastating! And Kishore Kumar’s rendition of the classic Tagore song Ami Chini Go Chini was cinema at its purest. The film boasts of great set designs, marvelous usage of light and shadows, and a lovely score (the latter by Ray himself).
p.s. This is my 500th movie review at Cinemascope, and what better way to reach this milestone than via a movie by my favourite filmmaker. So here's a hop, skip and jump from me!
Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Drama/Romantic Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama