Fifty years after Satyajit Ray won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for ‘Mahanagar’, the timeless classic about a woman defying a patriarchal society to work as a door to-door saleswoman, the movie will hit the big screen in a sparkling new digital avatar next week.
Kamal Bansal of RDB Entertainments — whose father R D Bansal produced six Ray masterpieces, including ‘Charulata’, ‘Nayak’ and ‘Joi Baba Felunath’ — has restored the Ray masterpiece. PVR Director’s Rare recently announced its pan-India re-release.
“In 2011, we were at a Ray film festival at Locarno, Switzerland. We found that there were several viewers but the picture quality was dismal. The original colour was spoilt in many places. International film fests maintain the highest standard and many of our films get disqualified for flaws in preservation. That is why, we decided to restore all the six films,” said Varsha Bansal of RDB.
“Mahanagar had not only marked the first-time teaming up of Ray and Madhabi Mukherjee but also the debut of child artiste Jaya Bhaduri,” said Somnath Ray, editor of the magazine ‘Ekhon Satyajit’.
Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, joint managing director of PVR, said, “We feel extremely privileged to show this rich legacy of movies and it also gives the audience of Kolkata a chance to revisit the movies and the works of the greatest figure of world cinema from Bengal, Satyajit Ray.”
Sandip Ray said he was very happy with the restoration and re-release plans.
“The plan to restore the film has been on for long and it’s an extremely important film. Watching the film has always been a superlative experience and watching it on the big screen, I’m sure, will be unforgettable. I’m looking forward to watching the restored version on the big screen.”
Ujjal Chakraborty, who authored ‘A Director’s Mind’ and was closely associated with the master director, said, “The film was significant for Ray on a personal level. His mother worked in a school, Vidyasagar Bani Bhaban. So, the belief that women shouldn’t be restricted to their in-laws’ home was instilled in his mind from childhood. And Ray was keen on making this film for a long time. While writing the script for ‘Aparajito’, his second film, he had started penning a few scenes for ‘Mahanagar’.”
Chakraborty also shared a little known trivia.
“The film ‘Mahanagar’ could’ve been ‘Mahabharat’, instead. He had even started conceptualizing some sequences for the epic. But eventually, ‘Mahanagar’ was born.”
This is really a huge news for Satyajit Ray admirers, film enthusiasts, youngsters as well as people of all generations who never got a chance to watch his film on big screen, an experience you cannot miss.