A poster for Charulata.
|Directed by||Satyajit Ray|
|Screenplay by||Satyajit Ray|
by Rabindranath Tagore
|Music by||Satyajit Ray|
R.D.Bansal & Co.
|Distributed by||Edward Harrison (US)|
|Language||Bengali with some English|
Charulata (Bengali: চারুলতা Cārulatā; in English also known as The Lonely Wife) is a 1964 Indian Bengali drama film by director Satyajit Ray, based upon the novella Nastanirh ("The Broken Nest") by Rabindranath Tagore. It features Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee and Sailen Mukherjee.
The film tells the story of a lonely housewife, known as Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), who lives a wealthy, secluded and idle life in 1870's Calcutta. Her husband, Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee), runs a newspaper, The Sentinel, and spends a lot more time at work than with his wife. However, he notices that Charu is lonely, and asks his cousin, Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), to keep her company. Amal is a writer and is asked to help Charu with her own writing. However, after some time, Charu and Amal's feelings for each other move beyond those of a mentoring relationship as Charu begins a latent sexual attraction towards Amal. Amal is unwilling to betray his cousin's trust that has already suffered at the hands of Charu's swindling brother, Umapada. He abruptly leaves, and after Charu hysterically submits to her disappointment in the presence of Bhupati, there is nothing left but for the forsaken woman and her humiliated husband to forge a contrived reconciliation.
- Soumitra Chatterjee - Amal
- Madhabi Mukherjee - Charulata
- Shailen Mukherjee - Bhupati Dutta
- Shyamal Ghoshal - Umapada
- Gitali Roy - Manda
- Bholanath Koyal - Braja
- Suku Mukherjee - Nishikanta
- Dilip Bose - Shashanka
- Joydeb - Nilotpal Dey
- Bankim Ghosh - Jagannath
Charulata is based on the 1901 novella Nastanirh (The Broken Nest) by Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore. Ray later said that he liked the novella because "it has a western quality to it and the film obviously shares that quality. That's why I can speak of Mozart in connection with Charulata quite validly." Ray decided to set the film in the 1880s instead of in 1901 and spent many months researching the historical background of the film. For the first time in his career he worked without a deadline both during pre-production and during the shooting. Ray worked closely with art director Bansi Chandragupta and no interior scene was shot on location. All sets were either built or remodeled to accurately portray India in the 1880s. Ray cast Indian actress Madhabi Mukherjee in the role of Charulata , but had difficulty with her due to her addiction to eating paan, which stained her teeth black. Because of this Ray had to be careful about what camera angles he used to film Mukherjee. Ray once called Charulata his favorite of his own films.
Charulata holds one of the highest ratings for an Indian film in Rotten Tomatoes, a 96% 'fresh' rating. It also holds an 8.4/10 rating on imdb. It has been widely regarded as one of the finest films made in the Indian Cinema history, and has won wide critical acclaim overseas as well.
In Sight and Sound, Penelope Houston praised the film, stating that "the interplay of sophistication and simplicity is extraordinary." The New York Times review criticized the film's slow pace and said that the film "moved like a majestic snail, as do all Ray films." In 1965 The Times of London remarked upon the films depicting of values that seemed influenced by the English, stating that "this stratum of Indian life was more English than England."
Charulata was rejected from the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, but won Ray his second Silver Bear for Best Director in a row at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival in 1965. He had won the same award in the previous year with Mahanagar. Charulata also won the Golden Lotus Award for Best Film at the National Film Awards in 1965.
The film contains a famous scene in which Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) sings Rabindranath Tagore's song "Fule Fule Dhole Dhole" on a swing, while looking at Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee). The scene is referenced in the Bollywood film Parineeta during the song sequence, Soona Man Ka Aangan. Indeed, Parineeta 's Lalita (Vidya Balan) is dressed to resemble Nashtanir/Charulata 's Charu. Furthermore, Parineeta is based upon the novel Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay who was a noted contemporary of Tagore (and who also wrote novels concerned with social reform).
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