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It's been done many times in many movies; the stranger comes into a family and disrupts the quiet domestic life with his foreign ways, his "differentness," but in this potent drama, director Ray injects the question of identity. Is M. Mitra who he says he is? And even if he is, what are his motives? The plot of Agantuk is very simple, but the movie asks the viewer to reconsider how he sees strangers in his society. The setting and characters are of India, but the themes of the movie are universal.
Utpal Dutt is wonderful as M. Mitra, the stranger.
Robi Ghosh is also sensational-- knee-slappingly funny as a family friend who begs to visit so he can slyly question M. Mitra, to determine his authenticity.
Mamata Shankar plays the role of the mother/wife with understated grace, until late in the movie. Then she brings the movie a great deal of heart, in a scene where she openly grieves about the way her family has treated M. Mitra. The scene is touching without being mawkish.
If you love great cinema and gripping drama, rent or buy Agantuk (The Stranger). It goes for your heart and your brain.
Unlike some of Ray's later works, this movie does not become preachy or unduly morose..rather there is a subtle strain of humor that runs through the entire movie .
Acting-wise, Utpal Dutt, in his last role also, gives us the performance of a lifetime. This movie is all Utpal Dutt and there is noone who could have done justice to the role other than him. The supporting cast is stellar comprising some of the best actors of Bengali cinema. And throughout the movie, the technical polish and consummate artistry that is the stamp of a Ray movie is embellished in each shot.
Great till the very end... the only regret is that we will never see movie making like this again.