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The Lonely Wife (Charulata) [Blu-ray]

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Product details

  • Actors: Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, Shailen Mukherjee
  • Directors: Satyajit Ray
  • Language: Bengali, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Artificial Eye
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Aug. 2013
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BSX68RM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,100 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Neglected by her ambitious journalist husband, the lonely Charulata befriends his cousin, a sensitive aspiring writer, and almost inevitably their feelings for each other begin to deepen. Adapted from a story by Rabindranath Tagore, Ray considered this sensitively realised drama one of his finest achievements.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By doctor oz MB,MRCP on 16 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD
Ray's most personal movie describes the unadulterated love and longing of an intelligent woman for her younger brother-in-law ,while the older husband is pursuing his intellectual passion of running a radical English language newspaper in Calcutta ,Charaluta is left a lonenly wife and woman where she has to confide and share her creative passions with her artistic and poetic brothrer-in-law ,it is diificult to define where this platonic relation crosses the line from admiration to love, but the emotion evolves naturally to blossom into something more than matronly affiliation ,whether there is an element of lust is left for the audience to decide with small trivial domestic details stamped with sensitive symbolic metaphors,but the relationship is a satire on the security and sanctity of the indian marriage, where even any such thought alone can be construed as a blasphemy ,

Charu is adored by her husband who is one of the most respectable aristocrats in the higher social echelons in colonial Calcutta,their political intellectual discussions are just as enthusiastic as their exploration of the intricacies of mozart,ibsen ,literature ,piano and music ,this is a private sacred intimate milieu where a virtuous woman finds herself heeding thoughts which are ambivalent to her breeding ,she spurns herself and almost becomes a stranger to herself ,as if in self-loathing .

The internal psychological strife is beautifully depicted through the reactions of other characters surrounding her ,the daily domestic chores and her observaviotions of the street life from her balcony,which is almost a voyeuristic pleasure .
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By DeepakB on 6 Sept. 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Firstly, the actual film, as with all Ray films that are consistently excellent, this is one of his very best!

I own the Artificial Eye DVD version and have also seen this film on at the BFI screens; I must say that the Blu-Ray version presented here is superb. The picture quality, subtitling and sound are a significant improvement on previous versions. Perhaps this version is from the key works of Satayjit Ray being restored over in the US.

Well done to Artificial Eye and great value for money too!
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By RichardC on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The quality of this recording was not good and the sub-titles were at times not easy to follow as they were displayed too briefly and also were not entirely accurate.
Having said that, it is possible to follow the story very easily as it is straightfoward.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Sheer magic.... the perfect film 15 Mar. 2002
By greatbong - Published on
Supposedly inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's real life "friendship" with Kadambari Devi, his brother's wife, this is Satyajit Ray's best work . Whatever be the inspiration for the story, there can be no doubt that this is the closest you can get to a perfect film.
Ultimately its a story of trust, betrayal and loneliness set in the 19th century. The characters consist of Bhupati-- a crusty feudal lord, with liberal views and a fascination with England and all things English. He is distant,aloof and preoccupied with british politics and running his newspaper which like him, is dry and unpopular. But he loves his wife dearly though has trouble expressing his love. Charulata, his wife, is imaginative, young and lonely in a loving through unexpressive marriage. And in the midst of this life comes the Bohemian brother of Bhupati- Amol, a budding author of doubtful literary credentials who comes in like a storm and catches Charulata's imagination and heart. Also coming into the mix is Charulata's evil brother who is out to embezzle Bhupati's money. What follows is a story of how love brings out the best in people, how trust and betrayal walk hand in hand, and of relationships broken and hearts that never heal.
Satyajit Ray is in his elements as one unforgettable scene melts into another-- leaving behind words not spoken, looks of smouldering passion not exchanged and tears that well up in the eyes and yet vanish with a smile....
A masterpiece...a Picasso on film
What more can one say.....
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A must for every serious film goer 30 July 2001
By Mystic Wanderer - Published on
Did Amol really fall in love with Charulata, his brother's wife? I do not think so, though I wouldn't debate on that, especially without having read the story ("NoshtoNir" - by Rabindranath Tagore, written originally in Bengali) on which the film is based. And a film, as a medium of expression, just like literature, can be subjected to varied interpretations. That is never its source of greatness; and I'm definitely not the first one to realise that 'Charulata', as a film, is one such creation. So what is it that makes it stand apart?
A film is like art in motion, a dynamic canvas trying to create impressions in your mind through the images and sounds that it presents frame-by-frame. And this film accomplishes that task to a superlative degree; right from the start where, over a few scenes, lucid camerawork and adroit focus capture Charu's boredom and solitude with alacrity. Near-flawless compositions with occasional sprinkling of eloquent imagery, dominate the whole film. Some of the most moving images are: 1) A singing Charulata going up and down on a swing, her feet intermittently touching the ground while a contemplative Amol lies at some distance on the ground. The camera covers this shot both from the front when we see only Charulata and also from the side when Amol dominates the frame with Charulata swinging in the background. It produces a dreamlike effect. This is the strongest metaphor of Charulata's yearning for Amol.
2) Charulata's recollection of her childhood which inspires her to write - a brilliant montage of diverse scenes, such as a river, dancing men, a village fair and fire crackers, juxtaposed over a big close up of her face.
3) The final freeze shot, symbolising the indelible fracture in Bhupati and Charulata's marriage.
Music plays a significant role and qualifies most of the scenes. Acting perhaps ceases to be of supreme importance in such a masterful work but the very fact of the film's quality is testimony to good acting, though Amol (Soumitra Chatterjee) appears slightly theatrical in a few scenes and Bhupati's mannerisms a little arcane in the context of contemporary Bengali civility (which is perhaps irrelevant).
Ray himself has talked of 'Charulata' as his most consummate work, and we can understand why. Here he successfully blends picture and music, with his usual fluent style of narration, to create a deft composition, which is both adroit and expressive - adroit in its adaptation of technique and expressive as a work of art.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Foreign Film Fans Take Heed! A CLASSIC by one of the world's best! 13 April 2008
By JoeyD - Published on
Satyajit Ray was simply one of the greatest auteurs in the history of film. If you haven't had the privilege of seeing one of his creations, then by all means, please heed my advice. I was first introduced to Ray's work twenty years ago in a film class I took in college. I'm no maven in regards to his movies, having only seen five of them. However, what I can tell you is this, all five of those films were excellent. This one in particular is a gem and many critics believe it to be his magnum opus.

"Charulata" (The Lonely Wife) is based on the short story "Nastanirh" (The Broken Nest) by Pulitzer Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (whose work I have yet the pleasure of perusing). The story takes place in the late 19th century India and tells the tale of a lonely housewife Charu (short for Charulata), very reminiscent of Flaubert's Emma Bovary. Charu and her rather detached, older husband Bhupati live a quiet, well-to-do life. She is a very beautiful woman, with tons of money and all the time in the world to enjoy her passions - the arts, literature and poetry. Yet her workaholic husband seems to be more concerned with his job than his marriage. And alas, she is all alone, ailing from that distasteful disorder of ennui that seemingly plagues so many kept women.

However, the sun shines a bit brighter for our heroine when Bhupati's young, handsome cousin Amal arrives for a visit. Bhupati, who is far from a heartless man and feels sympathy for his wife's cheerless plight, encourages his cousin to befriend his wife as they both have so much in common (he loves poetry and the arts as well). Well, I won't go any further in relating the story line, but as most of you can guess...

I have read in several different articles that this was Ray's favorite film. That is quite a boast when you consider how many classic, award-winning films this man had been a part of. I just love this guy's directing! He was an artist who was able to evoke any emotion he wanted from his actors. There is typically not a whole lot of dialogue in his films, and he was definitely not one to use any effulgent effects, however I have never seen a director so adept in capturing the intimate feelings of his characters. Ergo, I would be remiss to not give kudos to the fine cast as well - Madhabi Mukherjee as Charlu, Soumitra Chatterjee as Amal, and Shailen Mukherjee as Bhupati. All three give standout performances, especially Madhabi as Charlu and it's no wonder why Ray loved having her as his lead actress for several other films.

There is no violence, foul language, nudity, crude humor, etc... in this 1964 classic. It's a charming story directed by one of the world's greatest story tellers - simple, yet stylish and sophisticated at the same time. I can't recommend it enough!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
All the Right Choices 26 April 2005
By John Sollami - Published on
A filmmaker has so many choices to make. What is the pace of the action? How is the scene framed? What is the best sequence of events? How is character condensed into its essence in a few brief moments of imagery? What do you do to build conflict and resolution? Satyajit Ray's Charulata has much to teach about all these questions.

This film is about a highly privileged group of people living in the late 19th century in Calcutta, and a marriage where a beautiful young wife, Charulata, sits bored and alone for weeks on end while her brilliant and preoccupied husband, Bhupati, tends to his other wife: his political newspaper. Bhupati is sensitive enough to understand his wife's frustration and asks his more emotional and romantic brother, Amol, a writer of sentimental romances, to tend to his wife and help her to write. Finally we see Charulata happy, singing, playful, and tending to Amol, mending his clothes and inspiring him to continue writing. Her innocent flirtations catch her offguard as she becomes deeply attached to Amol. Amol also realizes that his emotions are leading him astray. After Bhupati is ruined when his brother in law, whom he trusted and loved, makes off with the newspaper's money, Amol decides to leave, not wanting to take away from Bhupati his "other" wife. Charulata is crushed by Amol's departure and inadvertently betrays her emotions to Bhupati. Bhupati is completely disillusioned by these reversals of trust and love. Their marriage is severed. The final freeze frame is of the couple reaching out to hold each other's hand and is captioned, "The Ruined Nest."

This rather operatic plot opens slowly and quietly, but it becomes clear that a master is behind the lens as scene after scene move naturally into one another and the framing and pace draw the viewer into the emotion and drama of the story. Satyajit Ray's poetic, artistic, and literary sensibility fully enfolds and engages the viewer, and one realizes that all the right choices have been made. This movie is a master work, but in today's American film culture of fast action, cheap sentiment, and explicit sex, few people will realize it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful film about the conflict of love and duty! 23 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
It is incredibly difficult to review any film by Satyavit Ray because he is an artist without peer...director, screen writer, composer. Unlike so many Hollywood films, Ray's films seem real, not contrived and stike at the core of our feelings. "Charulata" is one of Ray's most beautifully realized films. It reflects the life of a wife, "Charulata", who lives like a caged bird in a traditional Bengali upper class home. Reflecting this, the film is mostly confined to a few rooms and garden of the home with glimpses of the outer world. Yet, despite the confined spaces, the film depicts a universal human condition. The conflict of love and duty is spelled out here in such a subtle manner that you can watch the film many times and still find more to appreciate. Be sure to see it!
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