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The Big City [Blu-ray]

Price: £6.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Only 12 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
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Product details


Set in the mid 1950s, Ray's often humorous story of conflicting social values in India's lower-middle class stars Madhabi Mukherjee as a housewife whose growing independence alarms her traditionalist family.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
"Worrying About Work Makes You Spineless" 23 Jan. 2000
By Patricia Spedden - Published on
In "Mahanagar" (Big City), a family copes with the changing mores and values of society. A wife, who has devoted herself to caring for her husband, child, and in-laws, takes a job outside the home to ease the economic burden her husband shoulders. As she becomes more successful at work, her husband must deal with the jealousy he feels.
Near the end of the film, a second theme is revealed. Despite the fact that the husband is now out of work, the wife quits her job to protest the unfair treatment of a coworker by her boss. Facing poverty, the husband nonetheless supports his wife's decision and praises her. "Worrying about work makes you spineless," he tells her. "You're not like that yet." He implies that many in the workforce have put their economic security ahead of their ideals and morals.
As in all of Ray's films, the themes are timeless. Although women in the workforce are well accepted today, we are still coping with ever-changing societal values. More importantly, the second theme forces us to question our own actions. Is a steady paycheck more important than taking a stand against injustice? If we keep silent about the unfair treatment or exploitation of another, aren't we a part of that exploitation?
In spite of the seriousness of these themes, the film is not heavy and moralizing. Long after the film has ended, what the viewer will remember is the devotion and love family members have for one another, and their willingness to cast their lots together, for better or for worse.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
timeless 5 Jun. 2002
By Michael J. Toppe - Published on
Simply one of the best films ever made. A trail blazer even by today's standards. The themes of gender role conflict, classism and work ethics are all played out in the dreamily composed yet closed world that director Ray crafted. The last 3 minutes are real movie magic in the truest sense of the word: you cheer for a moral redemption rarely explored in life (much less on film).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
a great film 3 Jun. 2002
By Kasey M. Moctezuma - Published on
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This film of Ray's is really one of my favorites. The wife of the main character decides to go to work to help support the family, and ultimately discovers new things about herself. She likes her new job and independence and having work gives her a different outlook about her own life and marriage, as well as the world. This is basically an upbeat movie, with a modern feel to it. As always, Ray's direction is impeccable and the cinematography is great. This is really a very enjoyable movie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The world and the home 22 April 2012
By Jay Dickson - Published on
The problems of the families in Satyajit Ray's films are so intensely and absorbingly portrayed that after seeing one of his films your own life can seem paltry in comparison. MAHANAGAR ("THE BIG CITY") is set in Kolkata/Calcutta in the 1950s, just a few years before the film was released in 1963. The Mazumdar family, consisting of Subrata and his wife Arati, their child Pintu, and Subrata's parents and teenage sister, can barely afford to keep themselves afloat; out of pure necessity, the shy Arati takes a job as a saleswoman for a company that manufactures labor-saving devices for housewives. Her husband's parents are shocked she would break with tradition in such a way, even out of necessity, and Pintu tries to reject her; nevertheless, she is a success at her job and is quickly promoted. Humiliated by her success, her husband tries to get her to quit, but after there's a run on the bank where he works as a clerk she must stay in her post as the family's sole breadwinner.

No one is better at portraying complex emotions wordlessly than Ray is; there are great scenes with his camera simply slowly closing in on his main character's faces that tell you so much about their inner lives it can feel almost overwhelming. He has two great actors in his central two roles of the Mazumdars: the stunningly beautiful Madhabi Mukherjee, and Anil Chatterjee. The scene where Mukherjee, as Arati, receives her first salary payment and reacts with quiet triumph is a classic, as is the much more complicated scene where her jobless husband overhears her in a cafe lying to a client about her husband's employment status (to his great humiliation). Rare for one of Ray' early films, the film ends hopefully, with the Mazumdars' marriage unbroken by modernity, which has not destroyed their love for one another and which has surprisingly given them a sense of new possibilities.
A woman's place is in the home .... and the workforce 14 April 2008
By RIZZO _*.*_ - Published on
If you have seen several of Satyajit Ray's films, you will recognize the repeated use of its actors. Here, the beautiful Madhabi Mukherjee appeared in Charaluta and Karapush. Although made in 1963, the time period is to reflect 1955. The setting is a tiny, cramped, dingy looking dwelling. Arati lives with her husband, Subrata, two kids, and her husband's elderly parents. Upon opening, we see that Subrata's father is in need of glasses and asks his son again when he can get them. The elderly father was an educator and begins to rely on his past students for benefits.

When money is tight, Arati presents the question to her husband about getting a job. He has strict values about women in the workplace, while the young son tells his sister that if she doesn't study she could be in the kitchen "just like mom". You also learn the values of the husband, who reiterates that a woman's place is in the home. But without argument, the husband is compliant, and helps her find a job, until he is threatened by her achievement and contribution.

What is inspirational about this movie is that here we have a woman who is a devoted homemaker, has NOT worked outside the home, performs well as a sales girl (door to door), boldly challenges her boss regarding treatment of a colleague; asks for a raise and gets it.

On the other hand, a man who has shallow values, ego bruised, long-time head of a household and isn't able to dutifully support his family evolves as the weaker of the two.

Excellent movie that may not be on DVD at this time. ....Rizzo
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