Version 1 (modified by salomex, 11 years ago) (diff)



aka The Adversary, aka Siddhartha and the City 1970 110’ b&w Bengali d/sc/m Satyajit Ray p Nepal Dutta, Ashim Dutta pc Priya Films st Sunil Ganguly’s novel c Soumendu Roy, Purnendu Bose lp Dhritiman Chatterjee, Indira Devi, Debraj Roy, Krishna Bose, Kalyan Choudhury, Jayshree Roy, Shefali, Shoven Lahiri, Pishu Majumdar, Dhara Roy, Mamata Chatterjee

The first of Ray’s Calcutta trilogy, coinciding with Mrinal Sen’s, addresses his native Calcutta’s turbulent politics. The student movement aligned with the Naxalite rebellion is invoked through the younger brother (Debraj Roy) of the film’s protagonist Siddhartha (D. Chatterjee) and informs the plot repeatedly e.g. with the Films Division newsreel about Indira Gandhi’s budget speech and, most importantly, by Siddhartha’s search for self-realisation and a job in Calcutta, an enterprise presented as inherently tragic. Siddhartha fails to get a job by answering that the greatest achievement of mankind in the 60s is the courage of the Vietnamese people rather than the NASA moon landing. In such an atmosphere, defined by the endless waiting for job interviews in stiflingly oppressive and humiliating conditions, he is eventually driven to leave Calcutta and his lover Keya (J. Roy). Ray introduces for him unprecedented narrative devices such as the voice-over of an unseen political activist (Ray’s own voice) who offers advice to Siddhartha, two film clips (the newsreel and a boring European art-house movie shown by the local film society) and the encounter with a prostitute which is shown in negative. Ray also includes, in the background as the lovers part, footage of a big political rally on Calcutta’s Maidan. Unlike Sen, however, whose use of similar devices was accompanied by a more sophisticated understanding of Brecht, Ray’s protagonist leaves only after performing a cathartic act of rebellion: he upsets an office in which yet another set of job interviews are being conducted. The film intercuts these episodes with a relatively more familiar pattern of flashbacks e.g. Siddhartha’s fantasies about his childhood before being disturbed by American hippies, or the flashback which interrupts the argument he has with his sister (K. Bose) about her opportunistic affair with her employer. The 2nd title in the trilogy is Seemabaddha (1971).