The Big City

Overview

Satyajit Ray, India's premiere film director, takes a rare foray into social satire with 1963's The Big City. Anil Chaterjee stars as the typically subjugated wife of an Indian bank official. When the banker loses his job, he orders Anil to find work to make ends meet. The wife subsequently runs the household finances so brilliantly that soon she is in the driver's seat, in direct opposition to long-established Indian matrimonial custom. Seen by some critics as a subtle plea for improving the status of Indian ...
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Blu-ray (B&W / Pan & Scan)
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Overview

Satyajit Ray, India's premiere film director, takes a rare foray into social satire with 1963's The Big City. Anil Chaterjee stars as the typically subjugated wife of an Indian bank official. When the banker loses his job, he orders Anil to find work to make ends meet. The wife subsequently runs the household finances so brilliantly that soon she is in the driver's seat, in direct opposition to long-established Indian matrimonial custom. Seen by some critics as a subtle plea for improving the status of Indian womanhood, The Big City was based on a novel by Narbenda Nath Mitra.
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Special Features

New interview with actor Madhabi Mukjerjee; Satyajit Ray and the Modern Woman, a new interview with Ray scholar Suranjan Ganguly; Satyajit Ray (1974), a documentary short by B.D. Garga; The Coward (Kapurush, 1965), a short feature by Ray that also addresses modern female identity and stars Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee; Plus: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Chandak Sengoopta and a 1980s interview by Ray by his biographer Andrew Robinson
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Tom Wiener
The liberation of a middle-class housewife is a stepping stone for writer/director Satyajit Ray to explore a host of issues; yet this film feels nothing like an exploration of issues, just a simple recitation of one family's economic struggles. Subrata (Anil Chatterjee) and Arati (Majhabi Mukherjee) are portrayed as a reasonably happy couple in the film's opening scenes of domestic life, even with his elderly parents sharing cramped quarters with them and their two children. But Arati yearns for something more, not just money to ease their financial burdens, and she determines, under the guise of bringing in more money, to become a sales representative for an appliance company. Subrata's ailing father, trading in on his relationships with former students for financial favors, leads the charge against his daughter-in-law's break with tradition, although in a passive-aggressive way; he just stops talking to his son and Arati. Her friendship with an Anglo-Indian colleague and a boss who's both avuncular and bigoted open her eyes to the wonderful world of office politics, while Subrata struggles to reconcile the family's economic reality with his own pride. In one of the film's best scenes, he's able to eavesdrop on his wife making a sales pitch in a café and covering up the family's desperate circumstances with lies that shame Subrata even more. Ray focuses on several objects (the patriarch's eyeglasses, Arati's lipstick tube) that provoke misunderstandings by other family members and also symbolize the fierce pride of these two characters. The director views each major character with the same equanimity, and though our sympathies are almost always with Arati (thanks in part to Mukherjee, a wonderfully subtle actress), we're able to clearly see the motives of those who would oppose or support her.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/20/2013
  • UPC: 715515109314
  • Original Release: 1963
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:15:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 165

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anil Chatterjee Subrata Mazumdar
Madhabi Mukherjee Arati
Jaya Bhaduri Bani
Technical Credits
Satyajit Ray Director, Score Composer, Screenwriter
R.D. Bansal Producer
Bansi Chandragupta Production Designer
Atul Chatterjee Sound/Sound Designer
Dulal Dutta Editor
Subrata Mitra Cinematographer
Sujit Sarkar Sound/Sound Designer
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