Charulata

Overview

This film by Satyajit Ray, India's most renowned filmmaker, tells the story of Charu Madhabi Mukherjee, a woman in late 19th-century Calcutta. She is neglected by her busy husband, Bhupati Shailen Mukherjee, a politically active newspaper publisher. When Bhupati's younger cousin Amal Soumitra Chatterjee, a sensitive, intellectual student on break from the university, comes for an extended visit, Charu enjoys Amal's company, and the two while away the hours in conversation. But as their relationship grows closer, ...
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Overview

This film by Satyajit Ray, India's most renowned filmmaker, tells the story of Charu Madhabi Mukherjee, a woman in late 19th-century Calcutta. She is neglected by her busy husband, Bhupati Shailen Mukherjee, a politically active newspaper publisher. When Bhupati's younger cousin Amal Soumitra Chatterjee, a sensitive, intellectual student on break from the university, comes for an extended visit, Charu enjoys Amal's company, and the two while away the hours in conversation. But as their relationship grows closer, Charu falls in love with Amal. The film, based on a popular Indian novel, marks a significant point in Ray's career, as it bears the influence of Western film on his directorial style. Shown at the 1965 Berlin Film Festival, the film was curiously and inexplicably rejected by the committee at the Cannes Film Festival.
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Special Features

New interview program with actors Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee; Adapting Tagore, a new interview program featuring Indian film scholar Moinak Biswas and Bengali cultural historian Supriya Chaudhuri; Archival audio interview with Director Satyajit Ray, conducted by film historian Gideon Bachmann; Plus: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp and a 1980s interview with Ray by his biographer Andrew Robinson
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Satyajit Ray's Charulata, one of the films of which the director was most proud, begins and ends with two sequences of beautiful, and justly praised, cinematic poetry. The film opens on Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), a sheltered 19th century housewife, viewing the world outside her bedroom windows through a pair of opera glasses. She then goes into the hallway, where her husband, Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee), walks by absorbed in a book. As he walks away she turns her opera glasses on him. This dialogue-less sequence deftly establishes her character and her relationship to the world and her husband. The film's famous conclusion, a series of freeze frames, beautifully crystallizes their now greatly changed relationship. Between these two points, Charu will transform herself from traditional, kept housewife to modern woman, with the help of Bhupati's brother, the charmingly wayward poet Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee). Filled with moments that can only be called "pure cinema," Charulata is both the story of a love triangle and a microcosm of a traditional society moving slowly and painfully into modernity.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/20/2013
  • UPC: 715515109215
  • Original Release: 1964
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled / B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:59:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 12,750

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Soumitra Chatterjee Amal
Madhabi Mukherjee Charu
Technical Credits
Satyajit Ray Director, Score Composer, Screenwriter
Bansi Chandragupta Production Designer
Atul Chatterjee Sound/Sound Designer
Dulal Dutta Editor
Subrata Mitra Cinematographer
Nripen Paul Sound/Sound Designer
Sujit Sarkar Sound/Sound Designer
Rabindranath Tagore Score Composer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Charulata
1. Lonely Wife [10:25]
2. Loyal Wife [5:02]
3. Amal's Arrival [4:01]
4. Bhupati's Sentinel [6:22]
5. Tending to Amal [8:16]
6. Bankim [5:49]
7. Garden of Delights [4:48]
8. Inspired Writing [7:55]
9. A Marriage Proposal [6:11]
10. Manda and Mando [3:00]
11. "O Fair One" [7:11]
12. Charulata's Turn [5:44]
13. Paan for Amal [3:32]
14. "To The Liberals!" [4:57]
15. Wordplay [6:13]
16. Payments Overdue [3:11]
17. Trust and Faith [8:18]
18. Rivals [3:14]
19. Future Plans [4:46]
20. Letter from Amal [6:44]
21. Broken Nest [3:33]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Charulata
   Play The Movie
   Chapters
      Color Bars
   Interviews With The Actors
      Play
   Adapting Tagore
      Play
   Satjayit Ray On Progress
      Play
   Subtitles
      Subtitles: On/Off
         Subtitles: On
         Subtitles: Off
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2002

    Similarities

    I hadn't the slightest inkling of this till I recently read Aruna Chakravarty's translation of Sunil Gangopadhyay's 'Pratham Alo' retitled 'First Light'. I had seen the movie Charulata before, but after having read Sunil's novel, I realized that Rabindranath's relationship with his own sister-in-law Kadambari, the wife of Jyotirindranath, was in fact quite similar to that of Amal and Charu in Ray's film. I was further reassured after reading an article in Parabas, in which Univeristy of Chicago's Dr. Clinton Seely commented the same. His own life must have influenced Tagore to write 'Nashta Neer', from which Ray adapted the simply superb Charulata.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2001

    A film for every serious film goer

    Did Amol really fall in love with Charulata, his brother's wife? I do not think so, though I wouldn't debate on that, especially without having read the story ('NoshtoNir' - by Rabindranath Tagore, written originally in Bengali) on which the film is based. And a film, as a medium of expression, just like literature, can be subjected to varied interpretations. That is never its source of greatness; and I'm definitely not the first one to realise that 'Charulata', as a film, is one such creation. So what is it that makes it stand apart? A film is like art in motion, a dynamic canvas trying to create impressions in your mind through the images and sounds that it presents frame-by-frame. And this film accomplishes that task to a superlative degree; right from the start where, over a few scenes, lucid camerawork and adroit focus capture Charu's boredom and solitude with alacrity. Near-flawless compositions with occasional sprinkling of eloquent imagery, dominate the whole film. Some of the most moving images are: 1) A singing Charulata going up and down on a swing, her feet intermittently touching the ground while a contemplative Amol lies at some distance on the ground. The camera covers this shot both from the front when we see only Charulata and also from the side when Amol dominates the frame with Charulata swinging in the background. It produces a dreamlike effect. This is the strongest metaphor of Charulata's yearning for Amol. 2) Charulata's recollection of her childhood which inspires her to write - a brilliant montage of diverse scenes, such as a river, dancing men, a village fair and fire crackers, juxtaposed over a big close up of her face. 3) The final freeze shot, symbolising the indelible fracture in Bhupati and Charulata's marriage. Music plays a significant role and qualifies most of the scenes. Acting perhaps ceases to be of supreme importance in such a masterful work but the very fact of the film¿s quality is testimony to good acting, though Amol (Soumitra Chatterjee) appears slightly theatrical in a few scenes and Bhupati's mannerisms a little arcane in the context of contemporary Bengali civility (which is perhaps irrelevant). Ray himself has talked of 'Charulata' as his most consummate work, and we can understand why. Here he successfully blends picture and music, with his usual fluent style of narration, to create a deft composition, which is both adroit and expressive ¿ adroit in its adaptation of technique and expressive as a work of art.

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