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The Coward More at IMDbPro »Kapurush (original title)

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Revival of burnt out passions or de-ja vu?

Author: pablo16 from Kolkata, India
5 November 2004

This can be categorized as another Ray short-of-a-full-length venture! The title could not be more apt, as COWARD is written all over the young writer(Soumitra Chatterjee)- especially after we are told of the past sequence. Some years ago, Amitabh had refused to marry lover Karuna in haste. He needed 'time' to think it over, the city was big, he was starting to work, he wasn't even established properly- how could he marry Karuna suddenly?

Many years later, his car breaks down and he is given shelter for the evening in Bimal Gupta's house- a successful tea planter somewhere in Darjeeling. The tea-planter is lonely in that part of the world with no neighbors nearby, hence he talks garrulously about his takes on life. Amitabha is now an established screen-writer who talks less but is astounded to meet Bimal's wife- Karuna.

A breakthrough performance by Madhabi Mukherjee, this is a wonderful movie which will not fail to appeal anyone.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Functioning of the Conscious, Subconscious and Unconscious Mind

9/10
Author: Samiran Sen from India
9 March 2013

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.

1)THE SURPRISE EFFECT:

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.

2) THE SIMPLE LINE THAT TOLD THE AUDIENCE VOLUMES ABOUT AMITABHA:

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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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

an unexpected reunion revives a young man's desire

Author: Chrysanthepop from Fraggle Rock
11 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Satyajit Ray's 'Kapurush' is a film that is set one night till the next. A writer Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee) is waiting for his train but that's a very long wait. He meets a gentleman, Bimal Gupta (Haradhan Bannerjee), who offers him an invitation to spend the night at his place instead of waiting in the station all night. After arrival at Gupta's residence, Roy is surprised to see Mrs. Gupta. She happens to be his ex-lover.

Ray tells the story in a very concise way. It is very much a character centred piece. Chatterjee gives a brilliantly underplayed performance as the younger lover and the desperate man hoping to win back his one time girlfriend. Madhabi Mukherjee does very well as she keeps her emotions balanced and Haradhan Bannerjee is good too.

I was surprised to see that it was such a short feature film. The plot is quite simple, as it proceeds with Roy remembering the old days with Karuna, his rejection of her and now he wants her back. He's desperate to believe that Karuna is unhappy and that she will come back to him. The ending is beautifully shot and it makes one wonder whether she actually came to the station. A great movie for a rainy day.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

a Coward faces the veil of the temple of love

7/10
Author: jaibo from England
28 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Small, short, gripping film about a man who meets by accident the woman he loved but allowed circumstance to dissuade him from marrying. She now has a boorish older husband, and refuses to engage with him in the old way. The best moments are the shots of the woman's turned, scarfed head - she is unavailable now - "it will not be revealed" - and her headscarf becomes an eloquent example of all the veils the coward has to face, one he has not had the gumption to walk into love's temple. The performances are excellent, with frequent close-ups delineating the suffering of the protagonist and, in the flashbacks, the woman. The revelation of the husband's acquiescence to social conservatism, the caste system and subsistence on alcohol as a way of getting through life is slyly shocking. Many meanings of the word coward are explored, and each of the three characters might be said to show some cowardice.

The feel is pretty gritty and realistic, and reminiscent of a 1960s BBC Wednesday Play.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The most fascinating quality about Kapurush is its brevity...

10/10
Author: Soujatya Dasgupta from United States
7 May 2009

The most fascinating quality about Kapurush is its brevity – the brevity of the film runtime (74 mins), its terseness in dialogues and the concision in expressions delivered by the protagonists of this film. It is a remarkable craft.

It's hard to imagine for any film maker of international repute to deal with a subject like Kapurush and tackle in-depth human emotions and consciousness, so succinctly and precisely, in just about 74 minutes. Some filmmakers would take alteast the normal 120-140 minutes length to be able to deal with a subject like Kapurush in order to give a wholesome cinematic form. Satyajit Ray took just 74 times to tell a story revolving around 3 main characters, depicting their psyche and intense mental turmoil – all unspoken but using subtle eye movements and small body gestures. The film is the finest example of optimal usage of speech, gesture, expression and length. The film highlights Ray's prowess in the economy of speech and cinematic resources. Kapurush inevitably epitomizes Ray's mastery and control over every aspects of film-making.

The ending of the film is undoubtedly the most exciting part - as with many of Ray's films, it leaves the audience to draw several conclusions, and as a result makes you think. And that's what makes Ray's films so unique – they are all subtle, calm and composed films – but after you have seen them, they bore a deep imprint on your mind and makes you think. Kapurush is one of them.

Unfortunately, Kapurush is a highly underrated film, perhaps because Ray is impeccable and had consistently produced masterpieces. As a result of this, a film like Kapurush got overshadowed. For any other world-class film-maker of today, it would have been a jewel in his or her oeuvre. Well, as I always say – Satyajit Ray is the God of Cinemas....period.

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