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Time Out says
Middle period Ray in that its political theme is powerfully evident, yet remains filtered through a prime concern with the characters. The setting is Bengal in 1942, with millions threatened by man-made famine (food is diverted for military use; prices rise; profiteers profit). Against this background, Ray delicately sketches the coming of age of a young Brahmin (an endearingly funny and tender performance by Soumitra Chatterjee); from a caste traditionally acting as priest, teacher and doctor, supported by his village as a mark of respect, the Brahmin first has to learn - mainly through the agency of his strong-minded and sensitive wife (Babita) - not only just what he is supposed to be preaching, teaching and prescribing, but how to earn the respect he is accorded. The crux for these two good people comes when, faced by their own hunger as well as the starving beggars by now omnipresent, an untouchable dies outside their house. The Brahmin's decision (tacitly approved by his wife) to break taboo by touching the body (to bury it, safe from the jackals) rings out in Indian terms as a call to revolution. Distant thunder, indeed; a superb film.