Hazari Pal lives in a small village in Bihar, India, with his dad, mom, wife, Kamla, daughter, Amrita, and two sons, Shambhu and Manooj. As the Pal are unable to repay the loan they had ...
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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Hazari Pal lives in a small village in Bihar, India, with his dad, mom, wife, Kamla, daughter, Amrita, and two sons, Shambhu and Manooj. As the Pal are unable to repay the loan they had taken years ago from a moneylender, their land and property are auctioned, and they are rendered homeless. Hazari and his family re-locate to Calcutta with hopes of starting life anew, save some money and go back to Bihar, as well as get Amrita married. Things do not go as planned, as they lose their entire savings to a con-man, Gangooly, who took their money as rent by pretending to be a landlord. Then Hazari gets an opportunity to take up driving a rickshaw manually through a local godfather, Ghatak. He gets to meet a American, Dr. Max Lowe, and together they strike up a friendship along with a local social worker, Joan Bethel. Misunderstandings crop up between Joan and the Godfather, resulting in the shutting down of their shanty medical clinic. When Hazari sides with Joan, his rickshaw is taken ... Written by
Bizarre reviews of this film that fail to explain why they are against its excellence don't stand up in the face of critics like Jim Whalley of Cinema Showcase who called it "the best picture of the year" and Susan Granger of WICC who commented that Patrick Swayze gave "the performance of a lifetime". This is the true story of a disillusioned American doctor who, like so many people, (the Beatles and Alanis Morisette, for example) travelled to India to find himself in a search for enlightenment. At first, he is unwilling to help the locals stand up against the oppressive 'godfather' of the area because he feels that all he'd be doing is trying to "drill a hole in water".
Having been to an English-speaking Third World country like India, myself, I found the reactions of the Swayze character extremely true to life. This seems to be the point that many viewers of the film don't seem to understand. I witnessed many Anglo-Americans in a Third World country surprising themselves by blowing up in anger at seeing the locals cowering away from injustice and later being transformed by the love and patience of the poor. I watched this movie while I was in Guyana and it was like an echo of many of the things I was going through and many of the events with which I had faced. Even the characters and their characteristics and reactions in the film matched many of the people I knew in that land!
"City of Joy" was an excellent and faithful adaption of Dominique Lapierre's richly written masterpiece. Om Puri's performance was deserving of an Academy Award. Patrick Swayze's character - his reactions to his surroundings - was extremely realistic. The conclusion of the film was beautifully touching. The strengths of American culture and Indian culture joined together - both races learned to accept one another's ways of life and borrowed virtues from one another's culture to breathe new life into the slums of Calcutta. "City of Joy" is one of the best movies ever made (10 out of 10).
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