Charulata

In cinemas from 22 August.

The Lonely Wife

Charulata (1964)

Charulata (1964)

Satyajit Ray’s own favourite of his films, set in late 19-century Bengal, boasts a marvellously vital Victorian heroine: Charulata, spellbindingly portrayed by Madhabi Mukherjee, is beautiful, intellectual and dangerously bored. Racing from window to window in her vast, ornate mansion, Charulata spies hungrily on the outside world through opera glasses.

Her wealthy husband, the high-minded editor of a political journal, is too preoccupied with the latest tax legislation and the forthcoming English election (Disraeli v Gladstone) to pay much attention to his wife. Somewhat unwisely, he invites his charming younger cousin Amal, a would-be poet, to keep her company and encourage her literary talent. This is a household of seething, suppressed emotions, subtly revealed by Subrata Mitra’s eloquent camera. A richly atmospheric soundtrack evokes the wider world, while Ray’s wistful score and the romantic songs beloved of Charulata and Amal heighten the sense of longing. Exquisitely adapted from a novella by Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata was described by its director as “the one film I would make the same way if I had to do it again”. This ravishing new restoration does justice to its perfection.

Margaret Deriaz

Venues

From 22 August
BFI Southbank

22-26 August
National Media Museum Bradford

22-28 August
Irish Film Institute, Dublin

22-28 August
Watershed, Bristol

18 September
Hebden Bridge Picturehouse

28 September
New Park Chichester

13 October
Saffron Screen

22 October
Plough Arts Centre

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