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36 Chowringhee Lane (1981)

7.6
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After the marriage of her niece, Rosemary, Anglo-Indian school-teacher Violet Stoneham lives a lonely life in her single room flat located at 36 Chowringhee Lane in Calcutta, with only a ... See full summary »

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Title: 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981)

36 Chowringhee Lane (1981) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Kendal ...
Miss Violet Stoneham
Dhritiman Chatterjee ...
Samaresh Moitra
Debashree Roy ...
Nandita Roy
Geoffrey Kendal ...
Eddie Stoneham
Soni Razdan ...
Rosemary Stoneham
Sanjana Kapoor ...
Young Violet (as Sanjna Kapoor)
Karan Kapoor ...
Davie
Ruma Guha Thakurta ...
Nandita's Mother
Munmun Kapoor ...
Bijoya
Dina Ardeshir ...
Mrs.Wendy McGowen
Fae Soares ...
Mrs.Berger
Renu Roy ...
Miss Mazumdar
Sylvia Philips ...
Mrs.Roy Chowdhury
Kamalini Sen Sharma ...
1st School Girl
Mahrukh Doctor ...
2nd School Girl
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Storyline

After the marriage of her niece, Rosemary, Anglo-Indian school-teacher Violet Stoneham lives a lonely life in her single room flat located at 36 Chowringhee Lane in Calcutta, with only a tom cat for company. She is thrilled when a former student, Nandita Roy, looks her up and also brings her boyfriend, Samaresh Moitra, to her flat. Samaresh is an author and likes the solitude of Violet's flat, and would like to write his new novel there, to which Violet readily agrees to. He likes her antique record-player and she gives it to him as a gift. She hopes she has become part of a family again. It is Christmas time and Violet would like to bake a cake and visit Nandita and Samaresh to surprise them. But is a surprise that awaits her when she reaches her destination. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

29 August 1981 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Magány út 36.  »

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User Reviews

A universal address of loneliness and humanity
4 July 2002 | by (Kolkata, West Bengal, India) – See all my reviews

Remembering the old lady Violet--unforgettably characterized by Jennifer Kendal--of 36 Chowringhee Lane any serious film viewer may continue to search the gender images so carefully built up by Aparna sen along her directorial career till now. In 36 Chowringhee Lane Aparna Sen, the well-acclaimed actress successfully begins to expand her originality as an artist of film as a whole. Almost at thirty-five years of a sovereign national identity a female Indian director portrays an aged English lady teacher still living in Calcutta, which was the capital of previous British colony in India. The individual as a trace of a colonial past-- living in a particular commonly known address of a nostalgic metropolis--succeeds to send us a universal appeal of anybody in the periphery of any society.

The intensity of loneliness has been unfolded by amazingly sensitive details of the daily existence of Violet Stoneham. The composition of the frames and sequences are reminiscent of classic directors. In a few sequences the detailing drags, but it sincerely illustrates the monotony inherent in the life of the hardworking loner.

The ill, old brother and a Bengalee couple appear to be the only close human associations of Violet. Both the parties leave her life at the end of a less eventful, courageous narrative, in which all the casts make excellent justice to the characters.

In spite of the desperate effort of Violet her brother Eddie dies. On the other hand, one of the Bengalee students Nandita and her boyfriend Samaresh, coming of an affluent social background care little to utilize her affection and her crying need for human relation, even after their marriage. Touching on a sexist sub-context Aparna manages her realism to keep authentic in featuring the young vulnerable lady Nandita less deceptive and dishonest than her decisive husband Samaresh. The matching insertion of a critically projected, insensitive urban attitude towards such a motherly subject also helps the accommodation of the local Bengali context. Debate might arise about the purpose of representing the only insensitive, self-centered Bengalees.

The surrealist treatment of past and unconscious in representations of dream, love, pain and fear of death of lonely English individual introduces the Indian spectators to a different film language. It helps them visualizing an exotic theme growing out of their own cultural space. All the unfamiliar aspects of the film do not suppose to isolate the Indian viewers from the characters, because the passion of the narrative from the very beginning may engage any spectator effectively in feeling and identifying a sphere of isolation of an"other" lady. The uses of sequences of silence, soundless presence of animals and insects, emptiness in space, elements in the individual sets, the lights and the always-sensitive camera positions voice in unison a deep care for a quietly vanishing human entity. The last and the loneliest sequence which seems to be the fare-well to all the human attachments of Violet takes a poetic gesture towards the whole horizon of helpless humanity.

One might perceive the presence of Satyajit Ray behind many areas of the making of the film, apart from his assigned assistance. If there was anything questionable in the possible inspiration, the outstanding journey of Aparna Sen from 36 Chowringhee Lane onwards pays her own genuine tribute to all her great inspirations.


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