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The Big City(1963)
The Big City (Mahanagar), set in mid-1950s Calcutta and directed by the great Satyajit Ray, 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.
For more about The Big City and the The Big City Blu-ray release, see The Big City Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 20, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Madhabi Mukherjee, Haradhan Bannerjee, Anil Chatterjee
Director: Satyajit Ray
» See full cast & crew
The Big City Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 20, 2013
Satyajit Ray's "Mahanagar" a.k.a "The Big City" (1963) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. There are no supplemental features on this release. In Bengali, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The beautiful Arati (Madhabi Mukherjee, Kapurush: The Coward) and her family have recently relocated to Calcutta. Getting used to the rhythm of life in the big city has not been easy, but Arati is thankful that the family has been able to find a small house and settle down.
Arati's husband, Subrata (Anil Chatterjee, The Cloud-Capped Star), has found a job in a local bank. But Subrata's father, Priyogopal (Haren Chatterjee), a retired teacher, does not think that his son is making enough to support the family. Subrata's mother, Sarojini (Sefalika Devi), is simply happy that her son is working.
Eventually, Subrata also realizes that the only way the family will be able to continue living in Calcutta is if Arati also gets a job. Without telling Priyogopal, he sends his wife to a local company where she is interviewed and quickly offered a job as a sales girl. But when the excited Arati shares the good news with Priyogopal the atmosphere in the house changes dramatically.
Satyajit Ray's powerful drama The Big City offers a fascinating look at two opposing life philosophies in a county in transition. In the first the role of the married Indian woman is very simple – she is expected to be a mother and housewife. She has important responsibilities in the house, but not outside of it. This is the type of role Subrata's father wants for his daughter-in-law. In the second the Indian woman can make important decisions that can have an impact on the entire family. She is still expected to support her husband, but she does not automatically accept his views; she can question and even dismiss them. This is the type of role Arati earns for herself after she is successfully hired as a sales girl by an ambitious businessman.
Ray's camera follows closely Arati as she undergoes an important character transformation and tries to serve as a mediator between her husband and his father. The dilemmas she faces as well as the clash of ideas she witnesses at work and at home are always easy to understand. Her personal views are also clearly identified.
The persistent clarity of the conflicts is arguably the film's biggest strength. Because there is no overdramatizing, Ray makes it incredibly easy to sympathize with the main characters and know exactly how they feel when they question each other. Indeed, their disappointments are the type of disappointments families all over the world have experienced.
In 1964, The Big City won Silver Berlin Bear Award for Best Director (Satyajit Ray) at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Note: The Big City was recently restored in 2K by RDB Entertainments at Pixion in Chennai/Cameo Media Labs, India. For the restoration, RDB Entertainments used the original 35mm negative and a 35mm print.
The Big City Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Satyajit Ray's The Big City arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
The release uses as foundation the same recent 2K restoration by RDB Entertainments which Criterion worked with when they prepared their Blu-ray release of the film for the U.S. market. Unsurprisingly, there are no major discrepancies between the two releases. Generally speaking, detail and clarity are very pleasing. Most close-ups also convey pleasing depth. There are select sequences that look softer, and occasionally clarity fluctuates, but it is easy to see that inherited fading is responsible for the fluctuations (see screencapture #4). It is also easy to see that various stabilizations have been performed to re-balance the image as best as possible. There are no traces of problematic degraining corrections. However, during the stabilization improvements some appropriate adjustments have been made. Lastly, debris, scratches, dirt, cuts, and splices have been carefully removed as best as possible. All in all, The Big City has a stable and pleasing organic look. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Big City Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: Bengali LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track opens up the film as best as possible. (See the sequence with the large crowd in front of the bank). Still, dynamic intensity is quite limited. However, depth and especially clarity are very good. Various clicks, pops, and problematic background hiss have been removed and different stabilization improvements performed. The English translation is very good, but it is not identical to that present on the Criterion release.
The Big City Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray release.
The Big City Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like the rest of Artificial Eye's recent Blu-ray releases of Satyajit Ray's films, this new release of The Big City should make fans of the film residing in Region-B territories very happy. It does not have any supplemental features, but it uses a high-definition transfer that has been sourced from RDB Entertainment's excellent new restoration of the film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Big City Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Satyajit Ray's The Big City Heading Back to the Big Screen - July 5, 2013
The British Film Institute has released a trailer for legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray's recently restored Mahanagar a.k.a The Big City (1963). The film is set to open in theaters across the United Kingdom on August 16th.
• Artificial Eye: Claude Miller's Final Film, More Satyajit Ray and... - May 10, 2013
British distributors Artificial Eye have informed us that they are planning to add four Blu-ray titles to their catalog: French director Claude Miller's final film, Therese Desqueyroux (2012), legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar (1963) and Nayak ...
The Big City Blu-ray Screenshots
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