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The Coward (1965)
"Kapurush" (original title)

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Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), a sriptwriter has a breakdown near a tea-estate and he is offered a place to stay by the estate manager (Haradhan Banerjee) at his bungalow. When he ... See full summary »



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Director: Satyajit Ray
Stars: Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee, Swatilekha Chatterjee


Complete credited cast:
Amitabha Roy (as Soumitra Chattopadhyay)
Madhabi Mukherjee ...
Karuna Gupta (as Madhabi Mukhopadhyay)
Haradhan Bannerjee ...
Bimal Gupta (as Haradhan Bandyopadhyay)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Santi Chatterjee ...
(as Shanti Chattopadhyay)
Satish Haldar
Deochand Lal


Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), a sriptwriter has a breakdown near a tea-estate and he is offered a place to stay by the estate manager (Haradhan Banerjee) at his bungalow. When he reaches, Amitabha finds out that the manager is married to his ex-girlfriend, Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee). The manager has invited Amitabha to assuage his own boredom # and fails to notice the uneasiness between his wife and the guest. The plot unfolds over a period of approximately one-day when they have dinner, breakfast and go for a picnic # and small gestures rekindle Amitabha's memories. Through a series of flashbacks, he remembers their first meeting, courtship and separation (which was solely because of his lack of courage to make a commitment). Amitabha's current affluence and his suspicion of Karuna's unhappiness leads him to propose to Karuna once again but she is inclined to believe that the time to muster up courage has gone past. Written by Diptakirti Chaudhuri

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Release Date:

7 May 1965 (India)  »

Also Known As:

The Coward  »

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User Reviews

The Functioning of the Conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious Mind
9 March 2013 | by (India) – See all my reviews

This movie might not be a good watch for those who call a movie good because it entertained them and they could laugh throughout the film. It is better to call this movie a study of human emotions and how the conscious and unconscious mind functions, than a cinema. Good movies like these must not only be watched as a motion picture and a story put into the television but as a documentary perhaps, with each shot of the camera unique in itself. I shall give a few examples.


When Amitabha realizes that the wife of the jolly gay tea-estate owner is his long-lost girlfriend Karuna, another director would have taken advantage of this opportunity that prominently presented itself to the director, and would have turned that scene into an eye-catcher. But Ray dealt with it rather subtly. It was but natural for Amitabha's feelings to be taken by tremendous surprise but his consciousness stopped him. We notice both Karuna's and Amitabha's hearts skip a beat, but neither the camera nor the actors make any special effort whatsoever to help the audience realize it.


A night scene. Amitabha cannot relax; he cannot sleep peacefully after seeing Karuna, married to another man. He tries hard to understand whether Karuna is happy with her married life or not, but can't. In this situation, as he admires Karuna's picture hanging from the wall, Karuna comes out of her room, combing her hair. The failed attempt of Amitabha of making conversation with Karuna and trying to rectify things that have been wronged in the past, ended with a question as worthless as that-- - would Karuna happen to have some sleeping pills? Karuna brings it for him and says, "Not more than two." Amitabha tries to threaten her, but cannot bring up much courage to do so, the same downside of his character responsible for all the mistakes he has committed throughout his life, and is only able to say, "what if I do?" Karuna outsmarts him, "I don't think you will." That one line "Mone to hoena" told the audience the "kapurush" that dwelled in Amitabha, the coward that haunted him all the time. It also told us the chemistry that still existed between the broken couple and how well Karuna understood Amitabha.

3. THE VEILED LADY: As they were going out for picnic, Amitabha sat in the backseat of the jeep. He could only see Karuna's head from behind, that too veiled, literally and metaphorically speaking. She hid herself from Amitabha completely, and was really trying her best. Her hand touching her husband's shoulder and the ring on her finger made a chill run down Amitabha's spine.

4. THE BURNING CIGARETTE: Picnic Spot. Karuna's husband has fallen off to sleep; but with a burning cigarette in his hand. Amitabha makes use of this opportunity, trying to convince Karuna to leave her husband as he says that he has understood that she is not happy. But Karuna refuses. Whether she did not love Amitabha any more or whether she herself was not brave enough to make such an unconventional move, we do not know. But as the cigarette burns out, we know that very soon the butt of the cigarette will burn the husband 's hand and he will wake up. Though Amitabha knows that there is no time to lose, he has forgotten that the right time has already been lost. A Kapurush like him does not deserve to be happy in a world too ruthless to such people.

5. THE LAST SCENE: Amitabha waits for Karuna to come and meet him at the station where he is waiting till the moment the train leaves. He had previously made it known to Karuna to make her decision by the time the train leaves. At the last moment, in the brilliant shades of darkness and light and the fixed position of the camera, we see Karuna coming. She comes. Amitabha rises. He smiles. But his smile fades away. Karuna casually asks for the sleeping pills that Amitabha must have forgotten to return. He gives it to him. She says, "Ashi" (Farewell). Now whether it was the real Karuna or only Amitabha's hallucination, we do not know. Also, why she came, we do not know. But Ray lets his watchers ponder over that scene as the movie ends, as to what the last scene actually signified. I would say that it was a tremendously brave and successful attempt. And perhaps, in my opinion, Karuna did make a decision; and wanted Amitabha to know about it. She might have made up her mind to give up her life, and that is why she asked for the pills. We also remember, what she had said to Amitabha earlier, "But not more than two" and maybe that is what she would now do.

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