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The Adversary (1970)
"Pratidwandi" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  27 October 1970 (India)
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A young college graduate is struggling to find a job. He lives in a flat with his younger, employed sister, revolutionary brother and widowed mother. The strain of the situation ultimately causes him to hallucinate.



(original story), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Dhritiman Chatterjee ...
Siddhartha Chaudhuri (as Dhritiman Chattopadhyay)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Asgar Ali
Arabinda Banerjee
Soumitra Banerjee
Amar Bardhan
Gaja Basu ...
(as Gaja Bose)
Krishna Bose ...
Biplab Chakraborty
Mihir Chakravarti
Anindita Chatterjee
Biplab Chatterjee
Chittaranjan Chatterjee
Dibyendu Chatterjee
Kalyan Chatterjee ...
Shiben (as Kalyan Chattopadhyay)
Mamata Chatterjee ...
Sanyal's wife


A young man, newly graduated from college is unable to find meaningful employment. He lives in a crowded apartment with his widowed mother, a revolutionary brother and a younger, well-employed sister. Family frictions and his continuing unsuccessful quest for a job place an unbearable strain on him causing him to hallucinate. The pressure, magnified by the tense and impersonal setting of Calcutta, builds to a devastating conclusion. Hindu Neorealism? Written by Mr Bongo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

27 October 1970 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Siddharta and the City  »

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One of the films of the Calcutta Trilogy, the others being Company Limited (1972) and The Middleman (1976). See more »

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The competitor
19 June 2013 | by See all my reviews

" The competitor or Pratidwandi was set up in a time of political turmoil in Bengal where a medicine drop out Siddhartha is looking out desperately for a job. Siddhartha had to leave his medicine study due to the sudden death of his father and ended up studying botany hence. The film moves through Kolkata with the eyes of Sidhartha mainly as an unemployed youth. The film marks the start of the famous Kolkata trilogy film series from Ray and went into history for winning President's award for best direction and screenplay and to be featured in 1972 Venice film festival. Ray used techniques that was years ahead of its time with common metaphor as below –

1. Death – The film starts with a x-ray filming scene of Sidhartha's father's death and ends with the same metaphor of death when Sidhartha finally lands up a sales job in remote Bengal and hears the long lost bird's whistle from his childhood days just to be comprehended by the echoing voice of "Ram Nam sath hai". Death stars and ends the film.

2. Lost bird – Sidhartha's recollects the bird that his sister was so fond of during their childhood vacation. Sidhartha never finds the same old known bird in Kolkata. He even ventures new market which is famous for hosting all materials from the world. But even new market disappoints him. He spots the bird finally in rural Bengal (Balurghat) in his new medical sales job. But this time the sound of the known bird is in resonance with the rhymes of a dead man being carried away. May be this concept of the lost innocence has inspired modern bengali bands to compose songs as "Holud pakhi". This is indeed remarkable as a metaphor for lost innocence and a human changing with age and circumstances.

3. Flash backs – Sidhartha flashbacks in his medical college days often in the film and these college flashbacks as medical lectures are used to connect the story as he unfolds his struggling days in Kolkata. The most eminent is the sexual metaphor of a young modern lady crossing park street.

The script was based on the story of Sunil Gangapadhya and the film moves very fast from the interview panel to Sidhartha's old friends mess to his old home. Sidhartha's inability to cope up with his ambitious sister (on merit or with her affair with her boss is unknown) or his revolutionary cousin makes up an interesting contrast to his character. Sidhartha's refusal for a sexual act which his friend sponsors speaks of his resilience and strength of character. Sidhartha also regrets probably gifting his brother the book from Che Guevara in his teenage birthday as his brother might have initiated his views on revolution from that gifted book. The only support that Sidhartha get is that from a door next girl who ultimately becomes his friend and may be his love interest eventually.

Sidhartha character is one of the three shades that Ray used in Calcutta trilogy as below – a) Sidhartha being the job hunter who finally compromises and leaves Calcutta. This character is by far the white shade in trilogy.

b) The character of Somanth in the second trilogy "Middleman -"Jana aranya " who as a job hunter too leaves the hunt and becomes a businessman himself just to end up hiring his best friend's sister as an escort for sales favors. Somnath is the innocent looking grey shade in trilogy.

c) The character of Shymal in the film "Company limited - Seemabaddha" who finds epitome of success in corporate life through smart work ends up self accused, although he makes to the coveted post of a general manager. Shymal is definitely darker of the other two shades if not a black.

Overall, a brilliant film and needs utmost attention when you see it. If you have struggled in a job search then this film will grip you more. Hope you all like this analysis as I pen up for the next two series on Middleman ("Jana aranya") and company limited ("Seemabaddha"). Your comments and views most welcome on the work of the genius !!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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