2021 was the centenary year of the legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray (1921-1992). In celebration of this master of his craft, the BFI re-released Mahanagar, hailed as one of his greatest films. Set in mid-50s Calcutta, a society still adjusting to Independence and gripped by social and financial crisis, this powerful, progressive and absorbing cinema classic sees a middle-class housewife excitingly defy expectations and find herself becoming a successful businesswoman. Subrata, a young bank clerk struggling to support his entire extended family on a meagre salary, firmly believes that ‘a woman’s place is with her cooking pots’. Unsurprisingly, he experiences conflicting emotions when his wife Arati helps out by taking a job as a door-to-door saleswoman selling knitting machines. Although made almost 60 years ago, the themes of film, with an emphasis on conflicting social values and on the role of women, make it feel surprisingly contemporary and as fresh and relevant as ever.
This film is programmed by Buxton Film and features no trailers.
Cast: Anil Chatterjee, Madhavi Mukherjee, Jaya Bachchan
Director: Satyajit Ray