Satyajit Ray has always thrown light on the real struggles of humankind, without any exaggeration or romanticism. The way he has portrayed human emotions, especially in regard to women in Indian society, is incredible. His vision, creativity, way of using cinematic tools to depict life, and passion for filmmaking have given several gems to Indian cinema. In this blog, we will go through one of his pathbreaking films — Mahanagar.
Mahanagar is a Bengali feature film by Satyajit Ray which was released in 1963. It is based on a short story named Abataranika written by Narendranath Mitra. As the name suggests the film is about the struggle of a small family in a big city which is quite relatable to every other middle-class family in India. The film rightly shows how a family and their happiness get dissolved in the hush and bush of a big city.
Key Focus: It especially highlights the struggle of a woman in a traditional orthodox family who decides to go against the notions of the society set for women. Arati has represented the struggle of women in this film. Her husband is a banker who supports a family of five people.
To shoulder his burden, Arati takes the job of a saleswoman going against the will of her conservative family. Later in the film, the husband loses his job under certain circumstances, creating chaos around. The situation gets worse and worse with time as the family seems to break apart. Jealously, misery, and frustration create distance between the couple. The film emphasizes how a woman can contribute to her family just like a man does, but even after all the efforts, she gets nothing but pain. The patriarchal society never acknowledges the hard work she does to earn bread and butter for her family. The worst part is that the story is still relevant in some parts of India. Even after so many years of development, we are still dealing with the same issues.
It also shows the difference between rigid principles and valuable principles. There is a very thin line between them and the character of Arati showcases it. On where one hand she broke the principle of confinement set by the society for women by taking a job, on the other hand, is also did not stay behind from resigning from it when her friend faced injustice there. Both incidents showcase the strength of her character.
Conclusion: On the whole, Mahanagar showcases the potential of a woman which makes Ray a genius. He not only points out the problem but also comes up with a solution. His women are not weak but they know the value of their characters. This is the reason that Satyajit Ray is not a filmmaker but an institution himself.