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36 Chowringhee Lane (1981)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  29 August 1981 (India)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 237 users  
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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)

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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)

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Drama | Romance

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29 August 1981 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Magány út 36.  »

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User Reviews

 
The age of loneliness
6 October 2011 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

36 Chowringhee Lane is the story of a middle-aged school teacher who is trapped in her loneliness. Her name is Violet, and after the marriage of her beloved niece, who is her only relative apart from her brother, she lives as a recluse all alone, having only one joy of teaching Shakespeare at school where not a single student really cares about it. Her brother Eddie is hospitalised in grave conditions. At the end of her working day, Violet always finds herself in her small apartment located on a small street in Kolkata. Her address is where the film takes its title from. She has no one but her cat, her nostalgic memories which keep running as flashbacks in her head, and some letters from her niece. Violet seeks human company and affection, and one day she gets a new hope in this regard as she meets Nandita, a past student of hers, with her boyfriend Samaresh. Samaresh says he wants to work on a novel, but has no place where he could do it in peace, and expectedly, Violet offers him her flat. What an innocent and kind Violet does not realise is that the couple actually need this place to do their 'stuff' while she is away at work. In anyway, while there is a certain exploitation in their behaviour and they clearly take advantage of Violet's need for companionship, still a beautiful friendship grows between them. The couple respect her, take her to the cinema, have dinner with her, and the three often meet and enjoy their time together. Violet feels revived to have found a sort of a new family, and well, they definitely do have great affection and regard for her, but not as much as she thought.

36 Chowringhee Lane touches the most tender chords in the viewer's heart. While watching it, I was surprised by how involved I was in the story. It is a profound, realistic and deeply moving chronicle of a woman's quiet desperation and struggle through the silence in her life. The film is so authentic that one can really feel a slice-of-life reflection. It is incredibly subtle in mood and execution. Aparna Sen's direction is extraordinary. With simplicity, soul and accuracy, she portrays the world of the middle-class, Christian Anglo-Indian community in post-Independence India in a way that no film ever did. And of course, she scores big time as she unfolds and illustrates with detailed delicacy Violet's lonely present and rich past, which is sensitive, absorbing and very lifelike. Sen makes this film really easy to relate to, building a serene narrative style that creates a thought-provoking, quietly powerful picture. Technically the movie is stupendous, as Sen is assisted by some of the best film crew professionals in the Indian film industry. The art direction is very impressive, particularly the way Violet's house is decorated, which, as someone in the film mentioned, appropriately looks like an antique shop. This really brings forward her yearning for past days. The background score, by the great Vanraj Bhatia, is haunting, enhancing the narrative and bringing further depth to the story. Ashok Mehta's cinematography is plain brilliant. He captures the images of Violet's house, and of all the characters, particularly of Violet herself, focusing the viewer's attention on her eyes which reflect her solitude.

This of course brings to the next point—actually the highpoint—in this movie. Jennifer Kendal is astonishing as Violet Stoneham, a woman who is lonely but in spite of that, is never embittered, being very lovely, kind, caring and positive. With heartbreaking anguish, touching vulnerability and total warmth and authenticity, Kendal brings Violet to life in a heartfelt performance that tugs at the heartstrings and resonates in memory long after the film is over. Her portrayal is amazingly nuanced, subtle, and she manages to convey a lot with her mere presence and her eyes which, as said, reflect her troubling reality and inner feelings. No matter who you are, you will not be indifferent to this performance. This, by and large, is the finest triumph of 36 Chowringhee Lane, and it will always be the main reason behind its efficiency. Kendal is supported by several great actors. Soni Razdan, in the brief role of her niece Rosemary, is very beautiful and natural. Geoffrey Kendal, Jennifer's real-life father, plays her brother Eddie in this film. He is not bad but he overacts at times. Dhritiman Chatterjee and Debashree Roy play the couple, Samaresh and Nandita, respectively. First of all, they have a wonderful chemistry, which is very important because the film has a minor but significant sub-plot involving their sexual relationship. Acting-wise, both are very good, and Roy is attractive and a bit more likable simply because her character is kinder as she feels more guilty. To sum it up, 36 Chowringhee Lane is a wonderful picture, a memorable portrait of loneliness and humanity which India should always be proud of.


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