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AN EXAMINATION OF MATRIMONIAL MISDEMEANOUR,
This review is from: Charulata [DVD] (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 .
The Edwardian decor of the town house and the cloistered garden are the backdrop to this shy and mellow drama,it is too quaint to call it a romance and it is too bold in it's conclusion to be labelled as anything but a ground-breaking drama .
It finally is a profoundly poetic look at the attitudes to matrimony and the development of a relation between a man and woman ,Ray is neither preacing nor sermonising ,he observes a slice of a domestic event and very naturally translates it upon the screen.
The performances by Soumitra Chatterjee as the young man who escapes from the house to get away from his feelings and Mahdabi Mukherjee as Charulata are poetically realised against a desperate passion ,which is all consuming but still very potent ,the scene stealer is the husband who walks away with all the plaudits in the shocking yet liberating finale .
The trivia here are more important then the most crucial details and the culture is explored with a sensitivity yet sophistication which makes this one of the greatest comments on human relationships in cinema ,that the fragility of this exquisite piece is streamlined to the very end in a perfect balance is to the credit of a ray of genius called SaTyajit Ray.