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24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Charu lives a lonely and idle life in 1870s India. Although her husband devotes more time to his newspaper than to their marriage, he sees her loneliness and asks his brother-in-law, Amal, a would-be writer to keep her company. However, after several months, Charu and Amal's feelings for each other move beyond literary friendship.

Product Details

  • Actors: Soumitra Chatterjee Madhabi Mukherjee
  • Directors: Satyajit Ray
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000L1B3E0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,421 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By greatbong on March 14, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Supposedly inspired by Rabindranath Tagore's real life "friendship" with Kadambari Devi, his brother's wife, this is Satyajit Ray's best work . Whatever be the inspiration for the story, there can be no doubt that this is the closest you can get to a perfect film.
Ultimately its a story of trust, betrayal and loneliness set in the 19th century. The characters consist of Bhupati-- a crusty feudal lord, with liberal views and a fascination with England and all things English. He is distant,aloof and preoccupied with british politics and running his newspaper which like him, is dry and unpopular. But he loves his wife dearly though has trouble expressing his love. Charulata, his wife, is imaginative, young and lonely in a loving through unexpressive marriage. And in the midst of this life comes the Bohemian brother of Bhupati- Amol, a budding author of doubtful literary credentials who comes in like a storm and catches Charulata's imagination and heart. Also coming into the mix is Charulata's evil brother who is out to embezzle Bhupati's money. What follows is a story of how love brings out the best in people, how trust and betrayal walk hand in hand, and of relationships broken and hearts that never heal.
Satyajit Ray is in his elements as one unforgettable scene melts into another-- leaving behind words not spoken, looks of smouldering passion not exchanged and tears that well up in the eyes and yet vanish with a smile....
A masterpiece...a Picasso on film
What more can one say.....
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mystic Wanderer on July 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Did Amol really fall in love with Charulata, his brother's wife? I do not think so, though I wouldn't debate on that, especially without having read the story ("NoshtoNir" - by Rabindranath Tagore, written originally in Bengali) on which the film is based. And a film, as a medium of expression, just like literature, can be subjected to varied interpretations. That is never its source of greatness; and I'm definitely not the first one to realise that 'Charulata', as a film, is one such creation. So what is it that makes it stand apart?
A film is like art in motion, a dynamic canvas trying to create impressions in your mind through the images and sounds that it presents frame-by-frame. And this film accomplishes that task to a superlative degree; right from the start where, over a few scenes, lucid camerawork and adroit focus capture Charu's boredom and solitude with alacrity. Near-flawless compositions with occasional sprinkling of eloquent imagery, dominate the whole film. Some of the most moving images are: 1) A singing Charulata going up and down on a swing, her feet intermittently touching the ground while a contemplative Amol lies at some distance on the ground. The camera covers this shot both from the front when we see only Charulata and also from the side when Amol dominates the frame with Charulata swinging in the background. It produces a dreamlike effect. This is the strongest metaphor of Charulata's yearning for Amol.
2) Charulata's recollection of her childhood which inspires her to write - a brilliant montage of diverse scenes, such as a river, dancing men, a village fair and fire crackers, juxtaposed over a big close up of her face.
3) The final freeze shot, symbolising the indelible fracture in Bhupati and Charulata's marriage.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JoeyD on April 12, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
Satyajit Ray was simply one of the greatest auteurs in the history of film. If you haven't had the privilege of seeing one of his creations, then by all means, please heed my advice. I was first introduced to Ray's work twenty years ago in a film class I took in college. I'm no maven in regards to his movies, having only seen five of them. However, what I can tell you is this, all five of those films were excellent. This one in particular is a gem and many critics believe it to be his magnum opus.

"Charulata" (The Lonely Wife) is based on the short story "Nastanirh" (The Broken Nest) by Pulitzer Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (whose work I have yet the pleasure of perusing). The story takes place in the late 19th century India and tells the tale of a lonely housewife Charu (short for Charulata), very reminiscent of Flaubert's Emma Bovary. Charu and her rather detached, older husband Bhupati live a quiet, well-to-do life. She is a very beautiful woman, with tons of money and all the time in the world to enjoy her passions - the arts, literature and poetry. Yet her workaholic husband seems to be more concerned with his job than his marriage. And alas, she is all alone, ailing from that distasteful disorder of ennui that seemingly plagues so many kept women.

However, the sun shines a bit brighter for our heroine when Bhupati's young, handsome cousin Amal arrives for a visit. Bhupati, who is far from a heartless man and feels sympathy for his wife's cheerless plight, encourages his cousin to befriend his wife as they both have so much in common (he loves poetry and the arts as well). Well, I won't go any further in relating the story line, but as most of you can guess...

I have read in several different articles that this was Ray's favorite film.
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