Jalsaghar - The Music Room 1958 VHS
This film is a moody and evocative portrait of a physically and emotionally isolated man who is mourning the death of his only son, his wife, and his formerly lavish way of life. The distinguished Bengali actor Chhabi Biswas gives an outstanding performance as Huzar Biswambhar Roy, a once-happy and prosperous landowner who used to spend his evenings in the music room (or jalsaghar) of his magnificent palace. There he would sit on priceless carpets under magnificent chandeliers and admire himself in a large ornate mirror as he watched the best Bengali dancers and musicians perform.
Huzur is reminded of this opulent past by a tendril of music emanating from the house of his annoying nouveau riche neighbor, Mahim Ganguly (Gangapanda Basu) who likes to throw his good fortune in Huzar's face. Ganguly hosts the kind of lavish parties Huzar used to host, while Huzar's music room sits as empty and cold as his wounded heart.
Finally, unable to stop Ganguly's taunting, Huzar uses his last 500 rupees to reopen the jalsaghar for one more glorious performance. The loyal manager of his estate, Taraprasanna (Tulsi Lahiri) tries to stop him, but it's hopeless.
This film, made in 1958, is an excellent example of Satyajit Ray's ability to evoke mood. The desolation of the crumbling palace is the perfect visual metaphor for Huzar's inner state. For fans of Ray's work, this is a must-see example. --Luanne Brown
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Enough on its demerits.....this is Greek tragedy at its best. its the story of an old man, seeped in feudal tradition,trying to hold onto the glory of the past, out-of-sync with the changing world and throwing away all his money in order to maintain the glory of the past . And when the money to support his life-style goes away, the lights dim in the mansion and he dies in his dream........but not before a last hurray.
An universal and always relevant story of what happens when you hold onto the past and negate the present..told in true Ray humanist style. And throw in some of the classical Indian music, rousing performances all around and a mansion with shadows of the past looming everywhere.....and you have a haunting poignant helluva film!
The film is about a zamindar(landowning nobleman),played brilliantly by the great Chobi Biswas,whose tremendous passsion for staging very lavish musical arrangements ushers in his decadence.
The movie shows in flashback his best days with a happy family and most dignified presence in the sumptuous music and dance arrangements.
On the course of time,the nobleman loses money;his wife and son die in a shipwreck.
In a last and vein effort to bring back those yesterdays of glory and now-lost dignity the nobleman invests with all the money he had to stage another jalsa( musical arrangement ).
And this arrangement turned out to be his last.
The movie has got many memorable scenes notably one in the "jalsaghar" where he makes his presence felt by saying that he is the one who deserves (he being the host and organizer)to be the first giver of the token-money(as remuneration) to the artist ;and yet another one was when he gets the news of his kins' death and takes in hands restlessly his son's deadbody.
Who can forget the last scene where he becomes restless and takes out his aging stallion out of the stable and rides on it until he falls down.The scene aptly concludes the downfall of the zamindar .
Not many people know that Ray found the location of the this zamindar's palace in an awkward place in Nimtita in Bengal-Bangladesh border.
The palace in which the film was shot was actually that of the Chowdhurys and coincidentally enough the writer of "Jalsaghar",Tarashankar Banerjee, had one music loving Upendra Narayan Chowdhury (of this Chowdhury family of Nimtita) in his mind which served as the model of the Zamindaar of his story.
This is the film which can be seen time and again without getting tired.This is real genuine masterpiece.
Four other hard to forget films: both the older and newer versions of The Charge of the Light Brigade, and both (Jack Palance and Stacy Keach) versions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But while you're at it, don't miss Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Hunters either!