Rabindranath Tagore ( 1861–1941 ) . poet. dramatist. novelist. philosopher. composer. painter. and victor of the Nobel Prize in Literature. was the eminent figure of the Bengali Renaissance. Among his enduring accomplishments was the initiation in 1921 of his “world university. ” Visva-Bharati. at Santiniketan. some 120 stat mis north of Kolkata. In 1940. the nineteen-year-old Satyajit Ray enrolled at that place to analyze humanistic disciplines. Ray’s male parent. Sukumar—who died when his boy was two—had been a close friend of Tagore’s.
But by the clip Ray arrived at Santiniketan. the Nobel Laureate had merely a twelvemonth to populate. and the immature pupil saw small of him. experiencing daunted by his venerable position. However. Ray ever retained a deep respect for Tagore’s work. and when. in 1948. he was be aftering a calling in the film. he collaborated with a friend on a screen version of one of Tagore’s novels. Ghare baire ( The Home and the World ) . The undertaking fell through. and some old ages subsequently. rereading the book. Ray found it “an inexpert. Hollywoodish attempt which would hold ruined our repute and put an terminal to whatever ideas I might hold had about a movie calling.
” ( Ray finally did movie the novel. from a wholly new book. in 1984. ) In 1961. now internationally established as a manager. with The Apu Trilogy. The Music Room ( 1958 ) . and Devi ( 1960 ) to his recognition. Ray returned to Tagore. shooting three of his narratives as Three Daughters ( Teen kanya ) and a docudrama. Rabindranath Tagore. to observe the centennial of the great man’s birth. Ray described the latter movie. an official testimonial to India’s national poet. as “a backbreaking job.
” But there wasn’t the least sense of a job about Ray’s following battle with Tagore’s work. Charulata ( 1964 ) . frequently rated the director’s finest film—and the 1 that. when pressed. he would call as his ain personal favourite: “It’s the 1 with the fewest flaws”—is adapted from Tagore’s 1901 novelette Nastanirh ( The Broken Nest ) . It’s widely believed that the narrative was inspired by Tagore’s relationship with his sister-in-law. Kadambari Devi. who committed self-destruction in 1884 for grounds that have ne’er been to the full explained.
Kadambari. like Charulata. was beautiful. intelligent. and a talented author. and toward the terminal of his life. Tagore admitted that the 100s of stalking portrayals of adult females that he painted in his ulterior old ages were inspired by memories of her. Right from the beginning of his calling. with Pather panchali ( 1955 ) . Ray had shown himself to be exceptionally skilled at conveying a whole universe within a microcosm. concentrating in on a little societal group while still associating it to the wider image.
Virtually all of his finest films—The Apu Trilogy. The Music Room. Days and Nights in the Forest ( 1969 ) . Distant Boom ( 1973 ) . The Middleman ( 1975 ) —achieve this dual position. But of all his chamber play. Charulata is possibly the subtlest and most delicate. The scene. as with so many of Ray’s films. is his native Kolkata. It’s around 1880. and the rational agitation of the Bengali Renaissance is at its tallness. Among the educated center categories. there’s talk of self-government for India within the British Empire—perhaps even complete independency.
Such thoughts are frequently aired in the Sentinel. the broad English-language weekly of which Bhupatinath Dutta ( Shailen Mukherjee ) is the proprietor and editor. A charitable adult male. but distracted by his all-absorbing political involvements. he mostly leaves his married woman. the graceful and intelligent Charulata ( Madhabi Mukherjee ) . to her ain resources. The ocular elegance and fluidness that Ray achieves in Charulata are instantly apparent in the long. all-but-wordless sequence that follows the credits and shows us Charu. trapped in the stuffy. brocaded coop of her house. seeking to divert herself.
( At this period. no respectable middle-class Bengali married woman could venture out into the metropolis alone. ) Having called to the retainer to take Bhupati his tea. she leafs through a book lying on the bed. discards it. selects another from the bookshelf—then. hearing noises outside in the street. finds her opera spectacless and darts birdlike from window to window. watching the passersby. A street instrumentalist with his monkey. a intoning group of porters joging with a palankeen. a portly Brahman with his black umbrella. form of his dignified status—all these come under her examination.
When Bhupati wanders past. hardly a twosome of pess off but excessively engrossed in a book to detect her. she turns her spectacless on him as well—just another unusual specimen from the intriguing. unachievable outside universe. Throughout this sequence. Ray’s camera unobtrusively follows Charu as she roams restlessly around the house. framing and reframing her in a series of spaces—doorways. corridors. pillared galleries—that stress both the Victorian-Bengali luxury of her milieus and her parturiency within them.
Though subjective shootings are mostly reserved for Charu’s glances of street life. the tracking shootings that mirror her advancement along the gallery. or travel in behind her shoulder as she glides from window to window. likewise give us the sense of sharing her comfy but trammeled life. The lone divergence from this form comes after she’s retrieved the opera glasses. A fast sidelong path keeps the spectacless in close-up as she holds them by her side and hastes back to the Windowss. the camera sharing her unprompted avidity.
Under the credits. we’ve seen Charu embroidering a wreathed B on a hankie as a gift for her hubby. When she presents it to him. Bhupati is delighted but asks. “When do you happen the clip. Charu? ” Evidently. it’s ne’er occurred to him that she might experience herself at a loose terminal. But now. going mistily cognizant of Charu’s discontent and fearing she may be lonely. he invites her ne’er-do-well brother Umapada and his married woman. Mandakini. to remain. offering Umapada employment as director of the Sentinel’s fundss. Manda. a featherheaded stream orchid. proves hapless company for her sister-in-law.
Then Bhupati’s immature cousin Amal ( Soumitra Chatterjee ) out of the blue arrives for a visit. Lively. enthusiastic. cultured. an aspirant author. he establishes an immediate resonance with Charu that on both sides drifts numbly toward love. “Calm Without. Fire Within. ” the rubric of Ray’s essay on the Nipponese film. could use every bit good to Charulata ( as the Bengali critic Chidananda Das Gupta has noted ) . The emotional turbulency that underlies the movie is conveyed in intimations and askance gestures. in a fugitive glimpse or a bit of vocal. frequently bewraying feelings merely half recognized by the individual sing them.
In a cardinal scene set in the sunstruck garden ( with more than a nod to Fragonard ) . Amal lies on his dorsum on a mat. seeking inspiration. while Charu swings herself high above him. delighting in the rapture of her newfound rational and titillating stimulation. Ray. as the critic Robin Wood observed. “is one of the cinema’s great Masterss of interrelation. ” This garden scene. which runs some 10 proceedingss. finds Ray at his most closely lyrical. It’s the first clip the action has escaped from the house. and the sense of freedom and release is infective.
From internal grounds. it’s clear that the scene involves more than one juncture ( Charu promises Amal a personally designed notebook for his Hagiographas. she presents it to him. he declares that he’s filled it ) . but it’s cut together to give the feeling of a individual. uninterrupted event. a seamless emotional crescendo. Two minutes in peculiar attain a degree of ecstatic strength seldom equaled in Ray’s work. both underscored by music. The first is when Charu. holding merely exhorted Amal to compose. swings back and Forth. singing quietly ; Ray’s camera swings with her. keeping her face in close-up. for about a minute.
Then. when Amal finds inspiration. we get a collage of the Bengali composing make fulling his notebook. line superimposed upon line in a series of cross-fades. while sitar and shehnai gently hail his creativeness. In an article in Sight & A ; Sound in 1982. Ray suggested that. to Western audiences. Charulata. with its trigon secret plan and Europeanized. Victorian atmosphere. might look familiar district. but that “beneath the veneer of acquaintance. the movie is chockablock with inside informations to which [ the Western spectator ] has no entree. Snatches of vocal. literary allusions. domestic inside informations. an full scene where Charu and her beloved Amal talk in initial rhymes.
. . all give the movie a denseness missed by the Western spectator in his preoccupation with secret plan. character. the moral and philosophical facets of the narrative. and the evident significance of the images. ” Among the inside informations that might evade the mean Western spectator are the perennial allusions to the nineteenth-century novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee ( 1838–94 ) . A cardinal figure of Bengali literature in the coevals before Tagore. Bankim Chandra ( sometimes referred to as “the Scott of Bengal” ) wrote a series of romantic. chauvinistic novels and actively fostered the immature Tagore’s calling.
In the gap sequence. it’s one of Bankim Chandra’s novels that Charu takes down from the bookshelf. while singing his name to herself ; and when. non long subsequently. Amal makes his dramatic first entry. geting damp-haired and windblown on the wings of a summer storm. he’s reciting a well-known line of the writer’s. The happenstance points up the affinity between them ; by contrast. when Bhupati recalls unbelievingly that a friend couldn’t slumber for three darks after reading a Bankim Chandra novel ( “I told him. ‘You must be brainsick! ’” ) . it emphasizes the empathic gulf between him and his married woman.
Music. excessively. is used to show implicit in understandings: Both Charu and Amal are given to interrupting spontaneously into vocal. and two of Tagore’s composings act as leitmotifs. We hear the melody of one of them. “Mama cite” ( “Who dances in my bosom? ” ) . played over the gap images. and Amal sings another. “Phule phule” ( “Every bud and every flower sways and nods in the soft breeze” ) . that Charu subsequently takes up in the garden scene as they grow of all time closer emotionally. ( Manda. who has observed the brace together in the garden. subsequently slyly sings a line of this vocal to Amal.
) Ray weaves fluctuations on both vocals into his mark. Another that Amal sings for Charu was composed by Tagore’s older brother Jyotirindranath. the hubby of Kadambari Devi. The film’s implicit in subject of repressed emotions trembling on the brink of look is counterpointed both on a political level—Bhupati and his friends see in the Liberal triumph at Westminster in April 1880 the opportunity of greater self-government for India—and in the state of affairs of Charulata herself. a talented. sensitive adult female hankering toward emancipation but stealing unconsciously toward a treachery of her hubby.
To Western eyes. all three members of the trigon might look wilfully obtuse or impossibly naif. This once more would be a mistake Born of strangeness with Bengali society. where. as Ray pointed out. a husband’s younger brother—in this instance. a close cousin. which is much the same in Bengali usage and terms—is traditionally entitled to a privileged relationship with his sister-in-law.
This relationship. playfully coquettish. “sweet but chaste. ” between a married woman and her debar. is accepted and even encouraged. Charu and Amal merely stray. half unwittingly. across an unclear societal boundary line. Ray was ever known as a skilled and sympathetic manager of histrions. Saeed Jaffrey. who starred in The Chess Players ( 1977 ) . bracketed him and John Huston as “gardener managers. who have selected the flowers. cognize precisely how much visible radiation and Sun and H2O the flowers need. and so allow them turn.
” Soumitra Chatterjee. who made his screen introduction when Ray cast him in the title function of the 3rd movie of The Apu Trilogy. The World of Apu ( 1959 ) . gives possibly the finest of his 15 public presentations in Ray’s movies as Amal—young. impulsive. a touch pathetic in his uncontrollable screening off. spliting with the joy of researching life in its comprehensiveness after his release from the drab confines of a pupil inn. He’s wonderfully matched by the graceful Madhabi Mukherjee as Charu. her expressive characteristics alive with the ever-changing drama of unaccustomed emotions that she barely knows how to place. allow alone trade with.
She had starred in Ray’s old movie. The Big City ( 1963 ) ; he described her as “a wondrous sensitive actress who made my work really easy for me. ” The other three chief histrions had besides appeared in The Big City. though in minor functions. Shailen Mukherjee. playing Bhupati. was chiefly a phase histrion ; this was his first major screen function. Despite his professed rawness ( Ray recalled him stating. “Manikda [ Ray’s moniker ] . I know nil about movie playing.
I’ll be your student. you teach me” ) . he succeeds in doing Bhupati a exhaustively sympathetic if distant figure. well-meaning but far excessively idealistic and swearing for his ain good. Gitali Roy’s occasional veiled glimpses intimation that Mandakini isn’t. possibly. rather every bit airheaded as Charu supposes ; she surely isn’t above chat uping with Amal on her ain history. As her hubby. Umapada. Shyamal Ghosal expresses with his whole organic structure linguistic communication his enviousness and bitterness of Bhupati—signals that his brother-in-law of class wholly fails to pick up on.
Ray seldom used locations for insides. preferring whenever possible to make them in the studio. though so subtly are the sets constructed and lit that we’re seldom cognizant of the ruse. Charulata includes few exterior scenes ; about all the action takes topographic point in the extravagantly equipped scene of Bhupati’s house. As ever. Ray worked closely with his regular art manager. Bansi Chandragupta. supplying him with an exact layout of the suites and elaborate studies of the chief apparatus. and attach toing him on trips to the bazars to happen suited furniture. ornaments. and props.
The consequence feels convincingly reliable. arousing a strong sense of period and of a category that ordered their lives. as critic Penelope Houston has put it. by “a witting via media between Eastern grace and Western decorousness. ” Though he readily acknowledged the parts of his confederates. Ray came every bit near as any manager within mainstream film to being a complete auteur. Besides scripting. storyboarding. casting. and directing his movies. he composed the tonss ( from Three Daughters on ) and even designed the recognition rubrics and promotion postings.
Get downing with Charulata. he took control of yet another filmmaking map by runing his ain camera. “I realized. ” he explained. “that working with new histrions. they are more confident if they don’t see me ; they are less tense. I remain behind the camera. And I see better and acquire the exact frame. ” Charulata was the best received of all Ray’s movies to day of the month. both in Bengal and abroad. In Bengal. it was by and large agreed that he had done full justness to the revered Tagore—even if some people still harbored reserves about the implicitly extramarital capable affair.
After seeing the movie at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival. where it won the Silver Bear for best manager. Richard Roud noted that it was “distinguished by a grade of proficient innovation that one hasn’t encountered before in Ray’s movies. ” but that “all the same. it is non for his technique that one admires Ray so much: no numbering of treasures of mise-en-scene would convey the profusion of word picture and that dyspneic grace and glow he manages to pull from his histrions.
” From its lyrical high point in the garden scene. the temper of Charulata bit by bit if unnoticeably darkens. traveling toward emotional struggle and. finally. desolation—a procedure reflected in the limitation of camera motion and in the lighting. which grows more shady and drab as Bhupati sees his trust betrayed and Charu realizes what she’s lost.
Inspired. as he readily admitted. by the concluding shooting of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Ray ends the movie on a freeze-frame—or instead. a series of freeze-frames. Two custodies. Charu’s and Bhupati’s. making tentatively out to each other. shut but non yet joined. Ray’s tanpura mark rises in a plangent crescendo. On the screen appears the rubric of Tagore’s narrative: “The Broken Nest. ” Irretrievably broken? Ray. subtle and unprescriptive as of all time. leaves that for us to make up one’s mind.