Saturday, May 28, 2011


Ray, 1989, 100m

This is the second last of Ray's films, made at the age of 68. It is ponderous compared to earlier films, as it examines man in relation to society. It is based on Ibsen's drama, An Enemy of the People, which it follows fairly closely, as far as I can make out from a synopsis.

Ashoke Gupta (a now somewhat wrinkled Soumitra Chatterjee) is employed as a medical practitioner in Chandipore, a small town with a temple which attracts large number of pilgrims, which is the city's primary source of income. Some people come down with a serious variety of jaundice, which the conscientious doctor is able to trace to the water supply of the temple. To rectify this would call for major repairs which would affect the traffic of pilgrims as well as the reputation of the temple. As the doctor seeks to awaken the people to an impending epidemic, he is brought into headlong confrontation with the authorities, headed by his own brother the president of the municipal committee. The situation escalates and the doctor soon finds himself homeless, jobless and friendless.

The film is a straightforward and powerful portrayal of the elemental conflict of good and evil, drawn in broad bold strokes, compared to the subtlety and delicacy of many of the more famous films. Ray was ever experimental, and his films do not fall into a single genre. This tempts me to read the play on which it is based.

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