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The Music Room [Blu-ray]

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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(Jul 19, 2011)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

With The Music Room (Jalsaghar), Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali) brilliantly evokes the crumbling opulence of the world of a fallen aristocrat (the beloved actor, Chhabi Biswas) desperately clinging to his way of life. His greatest joy is the music room in which he has hosted lavish concerts over the years--now a shadow of its former vivid self. An incandescent depiction of the clash between tradition and modernity, and a showcase for some of India’s most popular musicians of the day, The Music Room is a defining work by the great Bengali filmmaker.

Special Features

In Bengali with English subtitles

New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Satyajit Ray (1984), a documentary by Shyam Benegal that chronicles Ray's career

New interview with filmmaker Mira Nair

New interview in which Ray biographer Andrew Robinson on the 'Making of'

A 1981 French roundtable discussion with Ray, Michel Ciment & Claude Sautet

New and improved English subtitle translation

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Kemp & 1963 essay by Ray

Product Details

  • Actors: Chhabi Biswas, Padma Devi
  • Directors: Satyajit Ray
  • Writers: Satyajit Ray, Tarasankar Banerjee
  • Producers: Satyajit Ray
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Language: Bengali
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: July 19, 2011
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004WPYO74
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,175 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
Poetic, visually mesmerizing and I would expect nothing less from one of the greatest auteurs of all time.

Satyajit Ray. The Indian Bengali filmmaker was known for his non-traditional Indian films. Having directed 37 films in his lifetime, many which won multiple awards internationally and his contribution to cinema has earned him an Academy Honorary Award in 1991, his films are beloved by many and many have hoped to see his films receive the Blu-ray treatment in the U.S.

And who best than the Criterion Collection who will be releasing Ray's fourth feature film titled "Jalsaghar" (The Music Room) on Blu-ray and DVD.

"The Music room" is a film adaptation of Tarashankar Banerjee's short story but instead of creating an exact adaptation, Satyajit Ray would give his own spin to the film, making several changes but also creating a non-traditional film that would have music like most Indian films, but rather the music being an intermission, the music would be integrated as part of the original screenplay and featuring popular Indian music talent of the time: Begum Akhtar, Roshan Kumari, Ustad Waheed Khan and Bismillah Khan.


"The Music Room" is presented in 1080p High Definition black and white. For a film that could have been lost (the original negative was destroyed in a fire) forever, fortunately, through the collaboration of various companies, "The Music Room" was among Satyajit Ray's films that were restored and given an HD transfer on Blu-ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

There is no better surviving element of the negative than what we see with this film on Blu-ray and I have to say that the film looks great on Blu-ray. With Satyajit Ray's films, there is a focus on aesthetics, the environment around them.
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Format: DVD
This is an amazing movie that explores the vanity and ruin of a once-prosperous feudal landlord (Biswambhar Roy) in Bengal around the turn of the century. Roy is a man who can not come to terms with a fast-changing world where his old feudal order is slowly disappearing and he is being upstaged by a vulgar money-lender (Ganguly) upstart whose family were once his beneficiaries and whom he considers beneath contempt for his lack of refinement. Even as he loses all else that he held dear, Roy remains a Zamindar to the end and decides on one last party in his Jalsaghar (music hall) that has remained closed for so long to teach the upstart a lesson.

The movie features excellent black-and-white cinematography, great acting and of course, the genius of Ray's direction.

To the lovers of music, this movie features a real treasure-trove of music with music direction by the late great Ustad Vilayat Khan, vocals by Akhtari Bai and a rare classic by the late Pakistani singer Salamat Ali Khan who was only 19 when he was recorded for this movie.
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Format: Blu-ray
Director Satyajit Ray's fourth feature is set in the fading decadence of India's feudal 1920s. It's a moving portrait about of a proud who clings to the rituals of the aristocracy as India moves into the modern world.

A popular actor of his time, Chhabi Biswas plays Biswambhar Roy, a zamindar, or once a powerful feudal lord who clings to the last ratty remnant of his glory days in his crumbling mansion. We meet him swaddled in his robes sucking on a hookah like a baby on his pacifier when he hears music from a neighbor's place that takes him back to his earlier days when he could fund lavish celebrations on his wife and son

But alas, Roy's indulgence - his addiction -- to his passions do nothing to rescue the slow loss of his fortune as he competes with his neighbor and spends the last of his money on irrelevant displays of master artists in his beloved music room. But what is mostly revealed is Roy's social impotence along with his false sense of entitlement and his sadly deluded sense of social superiority. But make no mistake; this great film is also about something more than the power of music and memory in a changing culture. It's about the conflict of living in the moment and letting go of the residue of the past. Something exceedingly difficult for us humans no matter when or what the age in which we live.

This engrossing film is Ray's best and a wonderful introduction if this director in not known to you. The best extra on this full-frame B&W restoration is the two-hour documentary "Satyajit Ray."
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I enjoyed watching this movie. It's an evocative exploration of the dissolution of the pre-Independence feudal estates and the old resisting the new. Even though I have no ear for Hindustani classical music, the story and Chhabi Biswas' performance drew me in. I was initially put off by Biswambhar Roy's stiffness and feudal manner but at some point during the movie, as the layers started to peel away, I began to empathise with him. The solace he sought in music was something true to his nature and he genuinely felt aggrieved by what he perceived to be the sullying of his culture. Mahim Ganguly, as the enterprising neighbour who rose from being one of Roy's subjects to becoming a neighbour and surpassing him in wealth, is a little vilified for dramatic effect but I liked that Ray allowed him the opportunity to express his own mind in the scene where he walks outside the derelict mansion waiting for admittance to see the obstinate old landowner.

Clearly, a lot of effort has gone into the making of this movie and the Criterion restoration does that great justice. The scenes inside the music room, with the shimmering chandelier and the large mirrors, are crisp and clean and give a good sense of the grandeur of the landowner's life. The mansion itself is shown as being situated in isolation, surrounded by a vast and empty plain, revealing its insularity from the world around it. The private family scenes between the landowner and his wife and son are shot in smaller rooms and give a closer, more intimate feel, humanising Biswambhar Roy. You wonder how much of Roy was merely a product of the environment he grew up in, conditioned to a certain mindset that for generations had been required to function in an authoritative role.
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