Thursday, 6 July 2017

Agantuk (1991)

[*** stars / *****] 

An impostor? An opportunist? Greedy? Anila's (Mamta Shankar) long lost uncle Manmohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt), her sole surviving relative, returns to meet her after 35 years of running away from home. Anila (Mamata Shankar) is caught between happiness and suspicion, her husband Sudhindra (Dipankar Dey) is wary.

Aguntuk (The Stranger) was Satyajit Ray's last film. It stands out as a deep, intellectual comment on humanity, the idea of civilisation and where exactly are we going. 

Ray's genius is in allowing the audience to interpret and read between the lines. Mitra represents free, unconventional thinking while Anila's family stands for the routine and the tested. Mitra is a metaphorical alien to traditional, largely unquestioned surroundings. As these distinct worlds collide, a rebel knows that he has no place in a crowd.

Though not as evocative as Ray's other simpler, gripping, widely accessible drama masterpieces, a master is at work here. Expect intellectual fireworks and deep, passing insights, a trademark quality in Ray's latter films. 

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