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The Big City (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

THE BIG CITY (Mahanagar), set in mid-1950s Calcutta and directed by the great Satyajit Ray (The Music Room), follows the personal triumphs and frustrations of Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee), who decides, despite the initial protests of her bank-clerk husband, to take a job to help support their family. With remarkable sensitivity and attention to the details of everyday working-class life, Ray gradually builds a powerful human drama that is at once a hopeful morality tale and a commentary on the identity of the contemporary Indian woman.

Special Features

  • New 2K digital film restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • New interview with actor Madhabi Mukherjee
  • Satyajit Ray and the Modern Woman, a new interview program
  • The Coward (1965), a feature film directed by Ray
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by scholar Chandak Sengoopta

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Madhabi Mukherjee, Anil Chatterjee, Jaya Bhaduri
    • Directors: Satyajit Ray
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Bengali
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: Unrated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: August 20, 2013
    • Run Time: 135 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,480 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Big City (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

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    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: Blu-ray
    The story of Mahanagar aka The Big City is about how a conservative middle-class family in Calcutta is affected when financial circumstances require that the wife should also take up a job. The film looks at it from two aspects:
    1) The impact on the other family members - the loving but traditional husband, his orthodox parents, the young child (They all have reservation to some extent, and the only unequivocal supporter is the husband's kid sister, who sees it as a projection of her own ambitions)
    2) The changes in the woman herself - how she grows from a shy house-bound wife to a more confident worldly-wise person.

    Without any arty pretensions, but with the sharpness of observation and empathy towards the characters which are his strongest assets, Ray paints a very tangible portrait of this little personal revolution in the traditional family. Of course he is here immensely aided by the marvelous chemistry between the gorgeous Madhabi Mukherjee and Anil Chatterjee - their husband-wife relationship is a very credible and heartwarming picture of romance and friendship, mischief and responsibility. While some reality-obsessed curmudgeons may find the film's end unduly optimistic, it is a very well-placed happy ending, representing the never-say-die spirit of hope over adversity that keeps humanity alive. Ray's touch is very much evident in the screenplay and the visuals - many times, more is conveyed than said, with the use of beautiful visual metaphor or plain restraint, allowing the sensibility of the audience to fill in the gap. For this film he also composed the score, which is lovely and worth hearing on its own. All in all, highly recommended.
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    Prior to Criterion restoring the film it was almost hard to look at due to sparkles. Now it is as good as new. It is a wonderful story about women entering the work world in a society that frowns upon it, and about a husbands support in the face of criticism from parents and society. Satyajit Ray is considered one of the worlds greatest directors, so I have tried to see as many of them as I could and consider this one the best of all. The 5 extra items on the dvd are all worth watching too. The only negative is that the English subtitles for the ending scene were changed and lose the emotional punch that the original subtitles presented.
    1 Comment 8 of 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Blu-ray
    4 1/2 stars -- American audiences are unlikely to be bothered by the rather upbeat ending of the narrative in Satyajit Ray's 1963 film. It's the kind of ending they hanker for in much less interesting movies, and it has a nice feminist kick to it too. But if you compare "The Big City" to the movies Fellini was making in Italy around the same time, it's clear that Fellini is casting a colder eye on the state of post-war Italy than Ray is casting on post-independence India. There's a sense in this movie that modernization and urbanization offer opportunity, for women as well as men, in a new economic world and that taking a place in that new world will lead to a reconfiguration of traditional social roles that among other things, for example, seem to suggest that older citizens have little to offer their community and that a woman's place is to reinforce these older social patterns. Thus, as this movie opens, Arati Mazumdar (Madhabi Mukherjee) seems fixed in a world where she has to run a household consisting of her husband, her child, her husband's teenage sister, and her husband's aging parents -- and all this on the modest salary that her husband (Anil Chatterjee) earns as a bank-clerk. Expenses mount -- the teenager's education, the father-in-law's medical needs -- and things come to a point where Arati decides that she must take a job to help make ends meet. Neither her in-laws nor her husband is happy at the prospect: this is just not done in traditional families, and her husband eventually relents but makes it clear that he will seek additional part-time work that could make his wife's working unnecessary if he can find a part-time job.Read more ›
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    Format: DVD
    I was In India on my 5th trip in 3 years recently when this was shown to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its release. For me I was at the end of a long journey when I happened to catch this on a great screen in my hotel. I think in many ways it is the most astonishing film I have ever seen. Precisely because of what one previous reviewer says is Rays' inimitable gifts at catching the emotions of people close up without have to use any words. I found it particularly intense as my tours have all been musical in nature and the entire way that I go about interacting with people has been without words. A feat that has been surprisingly easy to access.
    However, to see Ray capture the heart and humanity of so many of the Indian people I have been fortunate to interact with was too much emotionally for me. I couldn't make it to the end, as the scene in the coffee shop was so intense (imagining the pain of the husband hearing his wife's description of his job) I just couldn't bare the emotional intensity anymore.
    His own music composed for the film ,beautiful and sparingly applied ,reminds me of the sensitive and subtle ways that so much of the food in India is so delicately spiced and is perfect in a way that no soundtrack I have participated in equals. Having created or played in the soundtracks of over 90 major motion pictures I don't think I have ever sensed such a perfect wedding of cinematic views with music .
    A revelation, as my love for film has always been huge, it actually made me plan to visit the school that is dedicated to his films and teaching, to perform and also to learn more on how to craft films myself as I now am lucky enough to have a pro level dslr and requisite equipment.
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    The Big City (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
    This item: The Big City (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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