#Charulata is a 1964 film directed by #SatyajitRay, which Ray himself regarded as his finest achievement.
Adapted from a novella by Rabindranath Tagore — the poet, novelist, dramatist, painter and composer who became India’s first Nobel prize winner — and set in late-19th-century Bengal, the film concerns the relationship between a rich Bengali magazine editor, his neglected wife and his younger cousin, a poet he invites to their palatial home in an attempt to brighten the bored woman’s everyday existence.
While supremely sensitive to the psychological and emotional predicament of its protagonist, admirably sympathetic to the men in her life, and utterly credible in every detail, the film is so rich, subtle and complex that the term ‘humane realism’ — let alone ‘human documentary’ — simply won’t suffice. Though discreet and exquisite, its artifice is too conspicuous (without ever being gratuitous) for the film to be categorised within those limitations; to do so would be akin to designating Pride and Prejudice or The Portrait of a Lady as ‘romantic fiction’.
When Ray was on peak form, as he was with Charulata, he effortlessly transcends categorisation; words like ‘realist’, ‘humanist’ and ‘miniaturist’ fall pitifully short of describing what he was capable of. My suggestion is to keep it simple and short: ‘artist’ is far more accurate — just as long as it’s remembered that he created art of the very highest order.
Courtesy- Geoff Andrew for bfi.org.uk. Follow #Bollywoodirect