Charulata Screen 10 articles

Charulata

1964

Charulata Poster
  • ...Writers as far apart as Henry James and Chekhov have known the power of such moments, when the tension (not necessarily sexual tension; it can take other forms) builds up against the safety-valve of social convention, and the suspense is in the unbreakable silence.

  • Also known as The Lonely Wife, this relatively early (1965) film by Satyajit Ray (The World of Apu), based on a Tagore novel of Victorian India, may be the first of his features in which he really discovers mise-en-scene, and it's an exhilarating encounter. It's typically rich in the nuances of grief and in extraordinarily allusive dialogue...

  • Aided by flawless performances from Madhabi Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee, and Sailen Mukherjee, a script (written by Ray) that delicately turns and builds on itself, music (composed by Ray), layered in motifs across the film, and, of course, Subrata Mitra's heaven-lit cinematography, the film becomes a profoundly enriching experience.

  • The son and grandson of illustrators, Ray had a background in graphic design (PATHER PANCHALI was adapted from a novel for which Ray has designed the cover), and his masterful sense of visual composition comes to the forefront in CHARULATA, a film where the visible—the framings, the careful dolly movements, even the wallpaper—somehow communicates invisible undercurrents and subtexts.

  • Probably indescribable in words, esp. since most of its preoccupations (like the deep joy of writing) are unfashionable now; just a lyrical work that never puts a foot wrong - and I say that as someone who doesn't even like the last 30 seconds.

  • Beginning with a beautiful sequence of pure cinema, for the first time I saw the link between Ray and Martin Scorsese... Alone in a room in her home, the title character wanders to a window with her binoculars, opens the shutters and watches people outside. To track them, she moves from window to window, opening each shutter and observing their movement. It's hard not to think of the young Henry Hill looking out his window in Goodfellas...

  • Not as ornate as the expat German, Ray nevertheless reflects Ophüls's ability to delineate power structures, personal relationships, and desires through camera movement and placement, and how nominally mirrored shots communicate vastly different moods.

  • This is an understated opening sequence for a film that drew criticism upon its release for being too slow. Howard Thompson’s New York Times review complained that Charulata “moves like a majestic snail,” but the methodical rhythm that Ray imposes on his film is actually a virtue. It allows us time and space to empathise with Charu’s situation...

  • The acting is beyond reproach. Madhabi Mukherjee gives one of the great performances as Charulata; any shot of her large, watery eyes and the transfixing bindi on her forehead conveys more ethos and pathos than some entire screenplays.

  • It offers a rich tapestry of pent-up emotion, fully imagined characters and poetically shot visuals.

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