Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review of Satyajit Ray's Jalsaghar.

Review of Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar.

Satyajit Ray enlightened the viewers of the 50s with the end of feudalism in Bengal with the film Jalsaghar. The film was released in 1958. It was based on the epic literature Jalsaghar written by Tarashankar Banerjee.

Chabi Biswas gave the lifetime performance in the role of Biswambhar Roy in the film. He was an aristocrat zamindar whose 3 generations carried the legacy of the feudal legacy. Biswambhar Roy had passion towards music and brought established classical artists from Lucknow and Benaras to perform in his Jalsaghar.

While Chabi Biswas’s zamindari declined, Gangapada Basu’s zamindari thrived. He was a businessman whose fortunes did shine after 2nd world war. Chabi Biswas gave the thread ceremony of his lone son in front of his wife Panda Debi with pomp and grandeur. But the earnings of his estate decreased due to non- production of crops and increased poverty of farmers.

By selling his wife’s jwellery Chabi Biswas organized the last Jalsaghar in his house. Again the luminaries of the village and Gangapada Basu were invited. Roshanara Begum was invited to perform. Begum Akhtar gave brilliant performance of her classical song. Gangapada Basu tried to throw his jwellery at the feet of the performer, but Chabi Biswas stopped him saying the first person to award the performer in jalsaghar should be the host.

At the end of the film when Chabi Biswas came to realized from Kali Sarkar, his servant that there was no money to light his lamp (jhar lanthan), he travelled on the horse named Tufaan, and died out of horse-riding. Chabi Biswas’s dignity and aristocracy ended in glory with his death.

Satyajit Ray portrayed the film for the western world to show them the history of feudalism during the colonial rule. Zamindari ended after India’s independence. Satyajit Ray in his interview before Doordarshan had said in the 80s, that Chabi Biswas was the greatest actor who had graced Indian silver screen.

Chabi Biswas proved his indispensability in the role of zamindars in the film Jalsaghar. Character artists like Kali Sarkar, Gangapada Basu, Padda Debi did well in their respective roles. The film received many national and international awards. The film should be restored for its filmic value.

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