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Charulata (The Lonely Woman)

(India, 1964, 112 minutes, b/w, 16mm)

Directed by Satyajit Ray

In Bengali with English subtitles

Madhabi Mukherjee . . . . . . . . . . Charulata
Soumitra Chatterjee . . . . . . . . . . Amal
Sailen Mukherjee . . . . . . . . . .Bhupati Dutt
Shyamal Ghosal . . . . . . . . . . Umapada
Geetali Roy . . . . . . . . . . Mandakini

"Charulata comes to us laden with prizes from overseas. This time the man who made the memorable Apu trilogy is delineating an emotional marital triangle that develops in a comfortable Bengali household... Husband (Bhupati Dutt), a liberal newspaper publisher, neglects pretty young wife (Charulata). Wife is attracted to husband's young cousin (Amal), a dashing derelict... Not only has the director fashioned a scenario from a story by Rabindranath Tagore, but also Mr. Ray has composed a tremulous musical score, with two vocal interludes for good measure...

"As usual, Mr. Ray has composed the picture in the most literal sense of the word-- and exquisitely. He has made the most of beautiful young Madhabi Mukherjee, who gives a lustrously affecting and almost mind-readable performance as the yearning heroine. In a sense, the very opening shot-- Miss Mukherjee's hands darting a needle into an embroidery hoop-- keys all that follows. Arranging every single camera frame to convey nuance, mood or tension, Mr. Ray has photographically embroidered a steady flow of quiet images with precise, striking acuity. One montage-- when the day-dreaming wife, in a garden swing, rocks to and fro like a pendulum-- is unforgettable."

The New York Times, September 11, 1965

In this year's annual awards journal, 'And The Award Goes To . . . ' the Writers Guild celebrated not only 50 years of Guild Awards, but also the favorites of past WGAE winners. Below is the response of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and one of the foremost writers of contemporary English fiction:

"My award goes to Satyajit Ray; and out of his great body of work, my own particular favorite is his film Charulata. . . . although he was such a superb visual artist, Ray's main inspiration was literary. He always wrote his own scripts (as well as directing them and composing his own original score!); and his greatest films were all adaptations of favorite novels and stories, including Charulata, which was based on a novella by Tagore. It doesn't seem to matter through what medium--novels, plays, films, music--the most potent influences reach us. All great works stimulate a hopeful emulation that ends occasionally, as in the films of Satyajit Ray, in radiant success--ensuring the continuation of this business of influence and inspiration that makes us all try and try and try again . . ."

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

"Of all the film directors of India-- which is one of the leading nations of the world in motion- picture production-- the most famous is the Bengali Satyajit Ray, who developed entirely apart from the industry as an independent. His first film, Pather Panchali (1955), won the attention of audiences throughout the world to his subtle and sensitive work, and his subsequent efforts have confirmed the initial evaluation of him as one of the most important contemporary directors...

"Ray usually rehearses his actors very little, especially when they are nonprofessionals, and he usually prefers the first film of a scene, because of its spontaneity, rather than a 'retake.' In response to criticisms of the slow pace of his work, he has defended its rhythm as a reflection of the style of the life he is trying to interpret. He has cited as the greatest influences on his work the documentaries Nanook of the North (1920-21) and Louisiana Story (1948) by the American Robert Flaherty, and Earth (1930), set on a collective farm, by the Soviet director Alexander Dovzhenko."

Encyclopaedia Britannica

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