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Jana Aranya (1976)

| Drama | March 1979 (USA)
A bright and idealistic young man steels himself for the dog-eat-dog business world, only to flounder in a job market packed with thousands of other hopefuls.



(novel) (as Shankar), (screenplay)
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Credited cast:
Pradip Mukherjee ...
Somnath (as Pradip Mukhopadhyay)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rafiq Ahmed ...
(as Dr. Rafiq Ahmed)
S. Bagchi
Ajit Banerjee
Krishna Banerjee
Sachin Banerjee
Samaresh Banerjee
Sudip Banerjee
Satya Bannerjee ...
Somnath's Father
Gita Basu
Arati Bhattacharya ...
Mrs. Ganguli
Sachin Bhattacharya
Umanath Bhattacharya
Jatish Bhora
Rajen Brijnath


After months of unemployment, recent college graduate Somnath enters business as a middleman, but he finds out when success means finding a client's weak spot, the price is more than mere rupees. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

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Release Date:

March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Middleman  »

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One of the films of the Calcutta Trilogy, the others being Pratidwandi (1970) and Seemabaddha (1971). See more »

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User Reviews

The story gets much better later in the film but the pacing is like lead.
9 August 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Before I get to the movie, there are a few things I should mention about the DVD for "The Middleman" ("Jana Aranya"). Like many other Satyajit Ray films I have seen from the 60s and 70s, it's in black & white. Apparently color films were very, very late coming to the Indian film industry--just like the Japanese and Chinese were still making silent films up until WWII. The print is also pretty fuzzy and has an annoying 'Shradha' (the distributing company) pasted across it. It's a pretty ugly looking film, that's for sure.

The film is about a young man named Somnath has taken a college exam. By a weird chance occurrence he's cheated out of the grade he's learned. This element of chance is something that will come into play a bit later in the film. In the meantime, he's graduated but finds the job marked glutted. Considering he didn't graduate with top honors, he's unable to stand out from the crowd and he spends a year looking for work. By chance, later he slips on a banana peel--and this ushers in an unusual opportunity. Now the non-Indian viewer might not understand the significance, but Somnath is from a Brahman family (from the top of the caste system) and the job he takes is NOT one a Brahman would normally do--it would be beneath him and dishonor his family. But he needs work and goes into business becoming a 'middleman'--a schemer who buys and sells practically anything to make a buck. The work isn't really bad at first, but later when he needs to give kickbacks and twist the truth, Somnath's father is heartbroken. But Somnath can live with this--after all, it's business. But, when he learns what he needs to do with one big client, it tests his mettle--what is he willing to do and not willing to do to make it in business?

There were some very positive things about the film. I agree with another reviewer who felt the father was an excellent and well-acted character. I also loved the big moral dilemma--this made the film end exceptionally well. However, I also should point out that this is a Ray film that is NOT for those unfamiliar with the man's work. That's because it's far from his best work--mostly because the pacing is like lead through the first half of the film. Slow and, I must add, it's hard to really like the main character, as he just seems to exist--and there's little with which to connect. Worth seeing and close to a 7, but it's not quite there.

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