Director: Mrinal Sen; Writer: Mrinal Sen, Ramapada Choudhury; Producer: Neelkanth Films; Cinematographer: K.K. Mahajan; Editor: Gangadhar Naskar; Cast: Anjan Dutt, Mamata Shankar, Indranil Moitra, Debrapatim Dasgupta, Sreela Majumdar, Nitalpal Dey, Bimal Chatterjee, Chakruprakash Ghosh
Duration: 01:31:52; Aspect Ratio: 1.296:1; Hue: 29.068; Saturation: 0.046; Lightness: 0.359; Volume: 0.238; Cuts per Minute: 7.413; Words per Minute: 54.556
Summary: Whereas Chaalchitra (1981) addresses the middle-class living conditions in Calcutta as a comedy, here Sen returns to the same theme in a darker mood. A young servant boy is hired by a middle class couple (Dutt, Shankar) and locked in the kitchen in an apartment block where he dies. The social networks prevailing in the neighbourhood are thrown into relief during the police investigation. Selfishness and guilt create a nightmarish atmosphere heightened by the arrival of the boy’s father from a small village. In the end, the post- mortem reveals the boy died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a coal stove in the cramped room. In an ending reminiscent of Ek Din Pratidin (1979), as soon as the protagonists feel let off the hook, all the problems are promptly swept back under the carpet. In this second Calcutta trilogy, Sen deploys a critical yet compassionate look at his own social milieu and described the films as a form of autocritique. The flamboyant narrative style of the earlier Calcutta trilogy (starting with Interview, 1970) has been replaced by a more reflective but equally intense approach relying on framing and camera movement to emphasise the interactions between people’s mentality and their living conditions. The relations between people and the spaces they inhabit (a series of Chinese boxes) becomes the driving force of a narrative proceeding with a sense of coiled energy constantly threatening to tear the fabric of daily life.