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

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 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
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: August 20, 2013
    • Run Time: 135 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00CUKTGBW
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,778 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Big City (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    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 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 Verified Purchase
    I am mainly discussing the QUALITY of the Criterion transfer. I had the original SONY almost perfect VHS. This one is even better. Sharp and clear; I opted not to get the Blu-Ray version for I don't know how much improvement one can make to this black and white film from the 60s and made in India. A five star effort
    Just a few words on the movie itself: it is middle of the road Ray. A veritable feminine triumph story but in Ray's hands, it is curiously ambivalent. The heroine would rather stay home and take care of her son than be out in the wilderness of Calcutta's fashion world selling cosmetics. Her husband's (Anil Chatterji) attitude changes within moments of his losing his job. His acting is the worst part of the movie: and significantly he never appeared in another Ray movie. On the other hand, Madhabi remains Ray's greatest triumph (yes, more than Sharmila) in this and Charulata.
    Great crieterion disc; and a far from Satyajit's top movies.
    By the way, the short Kapurush movie is a masterpiece. It lingers in memory. Madhabi and Soumitra with their understated charms and acting make it a top class Ray.
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