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Directed by Satyajit Ray
Produced by R. D. Banshal
Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
Based on Abataranika 
by Narendranath Mitra
Starring Anil Chatterjee,
Madhabi Mukherjee,
Jaya Bhaduri,
Vicky Redwood,
Sefalika Devi,
Haren Chatterjee
R.D.Banshal & Co.
Distributed by Edward Harrison (US)
Release dates
  • 27 September 1963 (1963-09-27) (India)
  • 29 June 1967 (1967-06-29) (US)
Running time
131 minutes
Country India
Language Bengali/English

Mahanagar (Bengali: মহানগর, Mahānagar; English: The Big City) is a 1963 Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray and starring Madhabi Mukherjee in the leading role of Arati.[1] Based on a short story, Abataranika by Narendranath Mitra, it narrates the story of a housewife who disconcerts her traditionalist family by getting a job as a saleswoman. It marks the first screen appearance of Jaya Bhaduri (now Jaya Bachchan), who later went on to become one of Bollywood's leading actresses.

Shot in the first half of 1963 in Calcutta, this was also the first film directed by Ray set entirely in his native Calcutta, reflecting contemporary realities of the urban middle-class, where women going to work is no longer merely driven by ideas of emancipation but has become an economic reality. The film examines the effects of the confident working woman on patriarchial attitudes and social dynamics.[2][3] Besides The Apu Trilogy, the film, according to veteran film critic Philip French is one of Ray's greatest films.[3]


Set in Calcutta during the 1950s Mahanagar explores the evolving independence of middle-class women of the city. Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), a home maker, takes up a job as a door-to-door saleswoman to meet the increasing financial pressure on her family. Despite familial adversity and societal obstacles the initially hesitant and nervous Arati soon begins to prosper in her field and gradually starts to enjoy her new-found financial and psychological independence. Her initially supportive husband, Subrata (Anil Chatterjee), who now starts to feel insecure decides to ask Arati to quit but is finally forced to let her continue to work once he loses his job. Arati now becomes the sole breadwinner of the family and also befriends an English-speaking, Anglo-Indian (representative of the legacy of the British Raj) colleague Edith (Vicky Redwood), a move which raises suspicion and increases conflict within her family.



Satyajit Ray won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival in 1964.[4] Upon its delayed (1968) release in the United States, it drew praise from Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael and others. The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 36th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[5] The film won the All India Certificate of Merit for the Third Best Feature Film in 1963 at the 11th National Film Awards.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marie Seton - Portrait of a Director: Satyajit Ray -2003 p 233 "The two sisters, Anime and Monisha, and Gulabi, are a distinct contrast from the more traditional Indian women in Ray's earlier films. But in Mahanagar, Arati is not only the central character but a woman, as Chidananda Das Gupta observed, ..."
  2. ^ Andrew Robinson (2004). Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker. I.B.Tauris. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-86064-965-3. Retrieved 19 August 2013. She was like someone I had seen,' says Madhabi Mukherjee of her wonderfully expressive performance as Arati in Mahanagar, which Ray shot in the first half of 1963. This is his first examination of more or less contemporary Calcutta, ... 
  3. ^ a b Philip French (18 August 2013). "The Big City – review". The Observer. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  4. ^ "Berlinale 1964: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  5. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  6. ^ "11th National Film Awards". International Film Festival of India. Retrieved September 13, 2011. 

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