Independent of each other, the Pal family - parents Hazari and Kamla, and their three offspring Amrita, Shambu and Manooj - and Max Lowe arrive in Calcutta, their initial dealings there being less than positive. After losing their farm in the nearby countryside to the "money lender", the Pals are in the city in search of a better life, especially in wanting to build a dowry for Amrita who is now of marrying age. Max, a Houston based surgeon who fell into the career as a matter of family obligation, quit his job unable to cope with the emotional toll especially of losing patients, and has come to Calcutta in search of spiritual enlightenment. Their lives converge by chance in the slum neighborhood nicknamed the City of Joy, most specifically at the makeshift City of Joy Clinic and School opened and operated by Irishwoman Joy Bethel who came to Calcutta on a whim and never left. While the Pals eventual settle in the City of Joy, Joy herself tries to convince Max to provide his much ...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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