Feature name: The Big City
Cast: Madhabi Mukherjee, and Satyajit Ray
Directed by: Satyajit Ray
Produced by: R.D. Banshal
The Big City tells the tale of a lady who defies convention by accepting a job outside the house. Once she does, she applies the insights she gains there to family life, even as domestic changes permeate the city as a whole.
It serves as a stunning visual metaphor for the protagonist of the movie, a housewife in 1950s Calcutta, and her predetermined household existence. Particularly if you take into account that the intersection of those lines offers another path for her life.
The Big City, written and directed by Satyajit Ray, eventually takes her down a different road with consequences for both her and her extended family.
This is a kind and thoughtful representation of societal upheaval, in the vein of Ray’s Apu trilogy, where the impact on individuals is always the primary focus.
The patriarchal system that governs the behaviour of the primary family is explicitly established at the beginning of the film. Subrata Mazumdar (Anil Chatterjee), the husband, informs his wife Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), the wife, that she is ignoring the “earning member” of the family by attending to their little kid before making him tea after returning from work. He generally jokes, yet he also has real intentions.
Subrata is given a friendly presence by Chatterjee, which makes his ultimate confusion over his wife’s transformation all the more charming. In this house, tradition can be mocked, but it still needs to be upheld.
The crowded home is filled with this conflict between the old and the modern. Subrata continues to pay his teenage sister’s tuition despite not understanding why she is seeking a degree.
His mother bemoans the fact that her once-respected teacher husband must spend the remainder of his days in poverty while his elderly father scrimsches and saves to enter a weekly crossword competition.
It should be emphasised that the movie also included a scene in which Arati meets a male client at a coffee shop, unknowing that Subrata is sitting nearby. This is important to highlight lest you assume The Big City panders to Arati and makes her into some sort of pioneering saint.
Despite the fact that nothing improper occurs, she nevertheless betrays her spouse by the way she speaks about him. The duo is brilliantly portrayed in various exposures as Ray’s camera progressively pans away from her face to make place for a mirror wall that mirrors Subrata’s table.
When it comes down to it, The Big City is essentially a similar fracture of identities, insisting that these individuals are so much more than the societal roles that they have been assigned.