Ghare Baire (film)

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Ghare Baire (The Home and the World)
Dvd ghare baire satyajit ray.jpg
A poster for Ghare Baire
Directed bySatyajit Ray
Produced byNFDC
Written bySatyajit Ray, from the novel by Rabindranath Tagore
StarringSwatilekha Chatterjee (Sengupta)
Victor Banerjee
Jennifer Kendal
Soumitra Chatterjee
CinematographySoumendu Roy
Edited byDulal Dutta
Release date
  • 4 January 1985 (1985-01-04)
Running time
140 minutes

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) is a 1984 Indian Bengali romantic drama film by director Satyajit Ray, based upon the novel Ghare Baire by Rabindranath Tagore. It features Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee, Jennifer Kendal (in her last film appearance) and Swatilekha Chatterjee (Sengupta). Ray prepared a script for it in the 1940s, long before he made his first film Pather Panchali. It deals with a subject that has often appeared in Ray's work: the emancipation of women and what it does to them and to the men who love them.[1] The film was in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival.[2] At the 32nd National Film Awards, it won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali.

Plot synopsis[edit]

A scene from film

The story is set in 1907) on the estate of the rich Bengali noble Nikhilesh (Victor Banerjee). In the chaotic aftermath of Lord Curzon's partition of Bengal into Muslim and Hindu states, the nationalist movement is trying to impose a boycott of foreign goods by claiming that imports are at the root of Indian poverty. He lives happily with his beautiful wife Bimala (Swatilekha Sengupta) until the appearance of his friend, a revolutionist, Sandip (Soumitra Chatterjee).

Sandip, a passionate and active man, is a contradiction to the peace-loving and somewhat passive Nikhilesh. He easily attracts the innocent and unsuspecting Bimala, creating a love triangle. Although Nikhilesh figures out what is happening, he is a mature person and grants Bimala the freedom to grow and choose what she wants in life, as their marriage was arranged when she was a girl. Bimala experiences the emotions of love for the first time in a manner that helps her understand that it is indeed her husband Nikhilesh who really loves her. Importantly, Nikhilesh tells Bimala that he would like her to have a life not only inside the home, but outside of it as well — a controversial stance in 1916 when the novel was written.



Satyajit Ray wrote a script for Ghare Baire in the 1940s, but the film, which was to have been directed by Harisadhan Dasgupta, was never made. Years later, Ray returned to his script and reworked it, describing the original version as "amateurish".[3] Soumitra Chatterjee was a Ray regular, having started his career with Apur Sansar. Victor Banerjee had also worked with Ray in Shatranj ke Khilari.Swatilekba Chatterjee, however,was a stage actress with the theatre group Nandikar, with no experience of acting in films. Ray saw her in a stage production and decided that she was the right choice to play the role of Bimala.[4] In 1983, during the shooting of the film, Ray suffered two massive heart attacks. His son, Sandip Ray, completed the project from his detailed instructions.[citation needed]


The film did well commercially when initially released. Ray's heart attack may have played a role in this. For the Indian audience, there was an additional interest, since it featured the first full-fledged kiss in Ray's films.

Critical response in India was mixed. Sumit Mitra in his long review in India Today said the film "looks like an intended failure".[5] Some critics (including Mitra) thought Swatilekha Chatterjee was miscast as Bimala, as she herself recounts in a recent interview, more than thirty years after the release of the film. She says: "One critic wrote a line, `She never lived nor looked the role'." She goes on to add that, after reading the reviews, she had felt like killing herself.[4]

Abroad, however, the response was mostly positive. The film premiered at Cannes, where it was well received. Although Ray was too ill to travel, at his insistence both Soumitra Chatterjee and Swatilekha Chatterjee went to Cannes. The latter recalls being felicitated for her performance: "... those around came and hugged me." [4]

Pauline Kael wrote: "Toward the end, Bimala, who was [encouraged] into independence by her husband, becomes desperate to express that independence — recklessly, heedlessly. When it comes to truthfulness about women's lives, this great Indian moviemaker Satyajit Ray shames the American and European directors of both sexes."[6] Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times: "As with the works of any great director, The Home and the World defies easy categorization. In close-up, it's a love story, but it's one so fully defined that, as in a long-shot, it also succeeds in dramatizing the events seen on the far horizon - including the political differences between Gandhi, who led the nationalist movement, and Tagore, who, like Nikhil, stood for civilized compromise." About the performances, he wrote: "The film is acted with immense grace by its three leading actors." [7] Roger Ebert noted that the real story of the film takes place within Bimala's heart and mind. He added: "It is a contemplative movie -- quiet, slow, a series of conversations punctuated by sudden bursts of activity."[8]



  1. ^ Pauline Kael, State of the Art ISBN 0-7145-2869-2
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ghare Baire". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  3. ^ "Official Website of Satyajit Ray World: Script Writer". Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Sen, Zinia (12 January 2017). "I wanted to kill myself after Ghare Baire: Swatilekha Sengupta". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  5. ^ Mitra, Sumit (15 July 1984). "Satyajit Ray's Ghare Baire looks like an intended failure to its last reel". India Today. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  6. ^ Pauline Kael, State of the Art p. 382
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (21 June 1985). "Movie Review - The home and the World". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  8. ^ "The Home and the World :: :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  9. ^ a b c "32nd National Film Awards (PDF)" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  10. ^ "1985 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016.

External links[edit]