Untouchable shoemender Dukhi comes to the Brahmin's and asks him to arrange his daughter's engagement. The Brahmin belongs to a higher caste. He wants Dukhi to work for him (and for free) ... See full summary »
Untouchable shoemender Dukhi comes to the Brahmin's and asks him to arrange his daughter's engagement. The Brahmin belongs to a higher caste. He wants Dukhi to work for him (and for free) before agreeing... A plea against the indian system of castes. Written by
Ray throughout his career created films with a great human warmth that sometimes bordered on sentimentality (e.g., the Apu Trilogy, Two Daughters, Charulata). Others of his films seemed to me a bit dry and clinical, anthropological rather than deeply felt (e.g., The Middleman, Distant Thunder). And other works are just embarrassing failures (e.g., his adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People.) By coincidence, I saw Sadgati at the same festival and on the same day as Enemy of the People, and thus witnessed within hours the very worst and the very best of Ray. As for Sadgati, I don't know how to overpraise it. Made for TV, it is a brutally ironic condemnation of the Indian caste system and, by extension, all inequality and injustice. It has the concentrated power of a story from Russian literature. (Tolstoy would have loved it.) The cruel directness of this work displays an unexpected aspect of Ray's genius. The scenes in which Om Puri struggles to work for the disgustingly lazy Brahmin are almost unbearably painful. The scream that the late Smita Patil gives when she is told the tragic fate of her husband I will remember all my life. The final scene takes the story's irony to its logical, devastating conclusion. It's a matter of great regret that this work is not available on video: if it were, Ray's reputation would be even higher than it is.
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