Jalsaghar

Ray's fourth film, a wonderfully evocative anecdote about an elderly aristocrat, slowly dying amid the crumbling splendours of the past, who decides to defy the egalitarian age that is encroaching. For all the rough edges, there is something of Welles here as the ageing aristocrat sits alone in his Xanadu, like Mr Clay in The Immortal Story, dreaming amid the remnants of past magnificence while the bulldozers of modern civilisation hum outside the walls. Something, too, of Chekhov's tender irony as he rebels in a gesture of glorious folly, bankrupting himself to hire the best classical musicians around, dust off the vast chandelier, and bring his ancestral music room to glittering life once more for just one last regal extravaganza. Slow, rapt and hypnotic, it is - given some appreciation of Indian music - a remarkable experience.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Satyajit Ray
Screenwriter: Satyajit Ray
Cast: Chabi Biswas
Ganga Pada Basu
Pinaki Sen Gupta
Kali Sarkar
Padma Devi
Tulsi Lahari
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J.G. Middleton

This is a film I have watched repeatedly, not because it is technically superior--indeed it creaks in parts--but because Ray evokes such sympathy for the decaying aristocrat, even though he is foolish and negligent. The evolving relationship of the declining aristocrat and the up-and-coming nouveau-riche moneylender is fascinating and points to the inevitable conclusion. This would be a thoughtful film even without the music which in this film is generously given in substantial portions, performed by the top-notch Indian classical musicians, singers and dancers artistes of the day. The last Kathak dance is an absolutely spell-binding spine-tingling scene, beatifully phoptographed. Together with 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by Pasolini, and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Asquith, Nargis Dutt and Raj Kapoor in 'Chori Chori', I would not be without this film. + A.M.D.G. +

J.G. Middleton

This is a film I have watched repeatedly, not because it is technically superior--indeed it creaks in parts--but because Ray evokes such sympathy for the decaying aristocrat, even though he is foolish and negligent. The evolving relationship of the declining aristocrat and the up-and-coming nouveau-riche moneylender is fascinating and points to the inevitable conclusion. This would be a thoughtful film even without the music which in this film is generously given in substantial portions, performed by the top-notch Indian classical musicians, singers and dancers artistes of the day. The last Kathak dance is an absolutely spell-binding spine-tingling scene, beatifully phoptographed. Together with 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by Pasolini, and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' by Asquith, Nargis Dutt and Raj Kapoor in 'Chori Chori', I would not be without this film. + A.M.D.G. +