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
Beset with antagonism from politicians and inhabitants of Calcutta, director Roland Joffé approached India's leading director, Satyajit Ray, to condone the production. Joffé tried four times to meet with Ray, but he refused each time. See more »
The school girl in the rickshaw gets dropped daily to St. Xavier's School on Park Street - which is an all boys school. See more »
The movie is not bad. It is based on the book by the same name by Dominique Lapierre, and if my understanding is right has the author's blessings. The characters even have similar if not same names but it is not the same story. However it is true to the spirit in which the book was written.
Another interesting comparison with the book is that just like the movie, the book is as controversial, especially in India and among middle class Indians and Indians abroad. Indians do not like to speak about their slums to foreigners and do not like foreigners to speak about them by themselves. Rich and middle-class Indians who make about one-fourth of the country are the most influential people in the country and make the interlocutors with the Western world. I know because I am one of them. If our country is our home, this is a skeleton in our closet. And because there is a skeleton in our closet, we try not to step into it and do not let other and hate those who do step in when we are not looking. The controversy is an indication that lot stuff in the movie is actually worth seeing.
Also it is not unusual for a poor man in India to choose to die with dignity than live in shame, Indian girls do flirt even if it is 'untraditional' and there are people who try to live by exploiting the poor, people who most others will call cruel.
The movie could have done a better job capturing the fact that western ideas can affect the way some people in India behave just as Indian ideas make some westerners reformulate their ideas and concepts about life. We can see it here, but this is better captured in the book
So those who do not like the movie try to read the book and those who liked the movie will definitely enjoy the book. As for me, stories of the resilience of Indian slum dwellers only make me more proud to be an Indian.
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