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The Big City (1963)
"Mahanagar" (original title)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,368 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 52 critic

Life at home changes when a housewife from a middle-class, conservative family in Calcutta gets a job as a salesperson.

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Title: The Big City (1963)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anil Chatterjee ...
Subrata Mazumdar
Madhabi Mukherjee ...
Arati Mazumder
...
Bani
Haren Chatterjee ...
Priyogopal (Subrata's father)
Sefalika Devi ...
Sarojini (Subrata's Mother) (as Shephalika Devi)
Prasenjit Sarkar ...
Pintu
Haradhan Bannerjee ...
Himangshu Mukherjee (as Haradhan Banerjee)
Vicky Redwood ...
Edith
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bibhuti Banerjee ...
(as Bibhuti Bandyopadhyay)
Manisha Chakraborty
Tapan Chatterjee ...
(as Tapen Chattopadhyay)
Arun Chowdhury
Pritish Dey
Shailen Ganguli
Shyamal Ghoshal
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Storyline

Calcutta in the early 1960's. Bhambal supports his wife Arati, his parents, and two children. Money is tight, so Arati goes to work. She's successful and enjoys it, but this untraditional step throws the household into chaos: her in-laws initiate a "cold war" of silence and disapproval. When Bhambal loses his job, her working is essential; he loses self respect, and the gulf between them widens. Arati questions whether to keep her daughter in school. At work, her friendship with Edith, a Euro-Indian who smokes, swears, and uses lipstick, brings Arati close to impertinence with her genial boss. Her job is imperiled, she acts impulsively, and who will understand her actions? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

27 September 1963 (India)  »

Also Known As:

The Big City: Mahanagar  »

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Quotes

Arati: [to her husband] You would not recognize me if you saw me at work.
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User Reviews

 
Exceptional
6 March 2003 | by (Saint Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

If, at some point in the future, Pather Panchali cannot fulfil its duties as Satyajit Ray's masterpiece, Mahanagar can step up and fill in the position. Or perhaps the two films can co-rule, as they compliment each other so nicely. Pather Panchali is the simple, straightforward masterpiece and Mahanagar is the more ambitious and complex work. The first is Ray's La Strada and the second his La Dolce Vita.

The Big City is a subtle, flowing work about a young housewife (Madhabi Mukherjee, who would also star in Ray's Charulata) in a middle-class family who finds a job when her father-in-law needs a new pair of spectacles. The family is very conservative, and this upsets everyone. Her husband's manhood is somewhat insulted, her father- and mother-in-law (who both live with the married couple in a rather small apartment) feel that it's just not right, and her son thinks he's been forgotten. The only one who supports her is her younger sister-in-law; she sees her as a role model. The husband (Anil Chatterjee) tries to get her to quit, but, when he loses his own job, he changes his mind quickly. Now she becomes the breadwinner, and he is effectively castrated.

This could have been a little, humble film, like many of Ray's works. But here he decides to examine a huge portion of his own culture, setting up many opposites and studying them closely. We have the husband and wife, man and woman, old-world conservatism and new-world progression, young and old, employer and employee. The list goes on. The depth of this film is nearly endless, and I'm sure it would hold up to any number of repeated viewings. The only flaw that I can see is a somewhat contrived climax - Ray had this problem in a few of his films.

I do have to give special praise to the two leads. Mukherjee and Chatterjee are just brilliant in the film. The supporting cast is also uniformly excellent.


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