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The Music Room (1958)

Jalsaghar (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Music | 1958 (India)
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Depicts the end days of a decadent zamindar (landlord) in Bengal, and his efforts to uphold his family prestige even when faced with economic adversity.

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(based on the story by) (as Tarashankar Bandhopadhaya), (script) | 1 more credit »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Chhabi Biswas ...
Huzur Biswambhar Roy
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sardar Akhtar ...
Singer (as Begum Akhtar)
Gangapada Basu ...
Mahim Ganguly
Bismillah Khan ...
Musician
Salamat Ali Khan ...
Khyal singer
Waheed Khan ...
Ustad Ujir Khan (as Ostad Wahed Khan)
Roshan Kumari ...
Krishna Bai, dancer
Tulsi Lahiri ...
Manager of Roy's Estate
Tarapada Nandy
Padmadevi ...
Mahamaya, Roy's wife (as Padma Devi)
Kali Sarkar ...
Roy's Servant
Pinaki Sengupta ...
Khoka, Roy's Son
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Storyline

Huzur Biswamghar Roy is a rich landowner who lives in a palace with his wife and son and his many servants. His passion - his wife would call it his addiction - is music and he spends a great deal of his fortune on concerts held for the locals in his magnificent music room. His wealth is in decline however. His lands are being eroded by the local river and he pays for the concert he arranges for his son's coming of age party by selling some of the family jewels. When his neighbor Ganguli invites him to a party at his house, Roy decides to one up him and organizes a lavish party for the same day - costing him the last of the jewels. After his wife and son are killed in a storm, Roy becomes something of a recluse, closing up the music room. Now, many years later he decides to have one final concert, spending the last of his money to again outdo - and spite - Ganguli. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

1958 (India)  »

Also Known As:

The Music Room  »

Box Office

Gross:

$94,886 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Huzur Biswambhar Roy: [laughing drunkenly, deriding the moneylender's son, Ganguly] He failed. He failed!
Huzur Biswambhar Roy: [now talking to his servant Ananta, who is refilling his glass with liquor] He couldn't do it. He couldn't do it! That moneylender's son! He wanted to be king of the mountain. What arrogance, huh? What arrogance! A dwarf reaching for the moon! He couldn't do it. You know why he failed?
Huzur Biswambhar Roy: [speaking directly to Ananta] Blood! The blood in my veins! You know whose blood flows in my veins? You want to see? Come...
Huzur Biswambhar Roy: [...]
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Connections

Referenced in The Darjeeling Limited (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Monumental masterpiece of Satyajit Ray
30 November 2012 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

"The Newsweek" magazine once asked Henri Cartier-Bresson , the great French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism , during an interview to name his favorite film. Bresson replied -" Satyajit's Ray's 'The Music Rom'. An old film but one that made an indelible impression on my mind."

"The Music Room" is a film that led to greatness by Satyajit Ray's devotion to a single mood: elegiac. Ray isn't alone in sculpting this great piece. The acting by Chabi Biswas as the crumbling aristocrat Huzar Biswambhar Roy, cinematography by Subrata Mitra and music direction by Ustad Vilayat Khan all contribute immensely. The film adaptation of Tarashankar Banerjee's short story but instead of creating an exact adaptation, Satyajit Ray gave his own spin to the film, making music, rather being an interlude, an integral part of the screenplay.

In "Jalsaghar or The Music Room", Ray examines the age-old conflict between the landed nobility and the rich without pedigree, between those who dwell in the past and those who embrace the future. Using the same meticulous, unforced style employed in his celebrated "Apu Trilogy",Ray explores how one man's need for a pampered, sumptuous lifestyle leads inexorably towards his complete ruin. It's a fascinating snapshot of Indian culture in the 1930s, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of an inflated opinion of self-worth.

Set in the 1930's with the emerging nouveau rich, Roy is the last in a long of rich patriarchs, stumbling as his estate diminishes but clinging till the end to his refined means. Roy lives in a mansion in the middle of a desert, a symbol of his isolation from encroaching destitute. Roy is frequently filmed alone, as are other subjects (his dog, horse, elephant).

The film begins with the elderly Zamindar (landlord) sitting alone, staring blankly in his back garden overlooking a once proud space. He is served by one of his two humble and loyal servants. The story flashes back some 15-20 years to a more glorious time when the younger Huzar, with his young son Khoka and wife Padma (the realist/pragmatist to Huzar's idealism) was the class of his region, hosting luxurious concerts in his home. Huzar's centerpiece, his ivory tower and final refuge from the external reality/realism is the titular music room. The room reflects the Huzar's pride, his heirloom, his inner soul. Ray draws us in spatially, in concentric circles, from the outer oasis, to the backyard pool/yard, to the mansion, to the music room and further yet, the music room's stage. Likewise Mitra's camera often, and nearly always in relation to Roy, dollies inwards toward Roy. The movement not only serves to honor the character and make us feel more empathy toward him, but counterpoints the film's maze-like construction.

Chhabi Biswas gives a superb performance as the crumbling feudal landlord. Subrata Mitra's cinematography and music by Ustad Vilayat Khan all contribute immensely to create the atmosphere. " Music Room" is a very visual film -- there are numerous ingenious shots (the insect dying in the glass, the bliss of an elephant being bathed in the river, the joy of the servants reopening the dusty music room, the way the chandelier gets reflected in the wine glass revealing Huzur's states of mind , and the last scene where a spider crawls up the leg of his own portrait) and a stirring dance sequence. The camera movements reinforce the character and highlight film's maze-like construction and Roy being trapped in his past.

"The Music Room" remains as a majestic masterpiece of a man's monumental effort to cling to his illustrious legacy and hold his head high when his feet wither.


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