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Ramu,a fresh graduate is searching for a job like many others in post-Partition Kolkata.He lives in a lower-middle-class neighborhood with his mother, father,and sister. Ramu's sister,Seeta,is dressed up and paraded in front of prospective in-laws who humiliatingly examine her. The mother is painful of older times when the family used to live in a better house, but she bears her suffering quietly, for the most part. The father is myopic and full of cynicism for he does not share the idealistic aspirations of his two children that better times will come. The light of Ramu's life is his girlfriend Uma, who lives in an equally precarious situation with her sister Shephali and her mother. Jatin is an even poorer minor character living near Uma's dwelling who Ramu avoids because he cannot help the former out financially. To make ends meet, Ramu's mother takes in Sagar, a poor chemist, as a paying guest. Ramu does not get a job and cannot pay rent even with the money that he gets from Sagar...Written by
Nagarik is an extremely remarkable film especially given the year in which it is made. Had it been made at the end of the fifties, one would be tempted to see the influence of Camus' L'Etranger, of Osborne's Look Back in Anger or the plays of Harold Pinter but Nagarik pre-dates all of them. Verismo certainly but not quite in the manner of Satyajit Ray's later Pather Panchali (1955) because Nagarik is highly stylised and has very much the feel cinematographically of a film noir. Although nothing like it in theme, it has stylistic echoes of Kamal Amrohi's 1949 Hindi film Mahal(and uses narration in a way very typical of Amrohi). Few films have ever better depicted the despair of poverty, the debilitating pattern of hopes defeated, of humiliations endured. Yet for all that it remains an engaged film (there are echoes too of Eisenstein, of Gorky, of the Renoir of Les Bas-Fonds). It is little less than criminal that this film remains so little known.
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