Ghare-Baire (1984)

Posted By: Someonelse
Ghare-Baire (1984)

Ghare-Baire / The Home and the World (1984)
A Film by Satyajit Ray
DVD9 (VIDEO_TS) | NTSC 4:3 (720x480) | 02:25:04 | 6,39 Gb
Audio: Bengali AC3 2.0 @ 192 Kbps | Subtitles: English
Genre: Drama | India

When the movie opens, a woman is recalling the events that molded her perspective on the world. Years ago, her husband, a wealthy Western-educated landowner, challenged tradition by providing her with schooling, and inviting her out of the seclusion in which married women were kept, to the consternation of more conservative relatives. Meeting her husband's visiting friend from college, a leader of an economic rebellion against the British, she takes up his political cause, despite her husbands warnings. As the story progresses, the relationship between the woman and the visitor becomes more than platonic, and the political battles, pitting rich against poor and Hindu against Moslem, turn out not to be quite as simple as she had first thought.

This film is based on a novel by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore which offers an Indian view of events in 1908 triggered by the British attempt to split Bengal into Muslim and Hindu provinces. In a story that is talky, stylized, and slow-paced, Indian director Ray has captured the nature of certain very real fissures in the private lives of the Indian people at a point in their history when the modernism of the West began to impinge on ancient Eastern ways.


In 1907, British rulers of India have partitioned Bengal, dividing the Muslims from the Hindus and silencing their collective political voice in the process. In response, Swadeshi, a burgeoning nationalist movement, demands a boycott of all British goods. We experience Swadeshi through the eyes of Bimala Choudhury (Swatilekha Chatterjee), a modern woman (she has been educated) married to a modern man. Nikhilesh (Victor Banerjee) is a wealthy land-owner who was educated in the West and who objects to the repressive treatment of Indian women. He allows Bimala unprecedented freedom, including freedom of movement around their estate, opportunities to meet other men, and English lessons. Against this modern relationship, Ray contrasts Bimala's more traditional sister-in-law, a woman whose husband was unable to even recognize her face on his deathbed.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

The first man Bimala meets is Sandip (Soumitra Chatterjee), a charismatic leader of Swadeshi and former classmate of Nikhilesh. Sandip has arrived in hopes of turning his old friend toward his cause, but Nikhilesh steadfastly refuses, much to his wife's disfavor. Bimala is instantly taken by Sandip, a man of superficial passion. She is so moved by his zealous rhetoric that she becomes the first female member of Swadeshi. The two begin to meet privately, eventually striking up an affair. Nikhilesh is aware of their relationship, but refuses to intervene, preferring instead that his wife's love be granted freely, even if to another man.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

Bimala strikes me as an Indian equivalent of Lily Bart. Like Edith Wharton's famous heroine, Bimala is allowed the freedoms of a modern woman, but lacks the experience and social context necessary to use it effectively. After spending the first decade of her marriage in isolation, forbidden from even seeing a man other than her husband, she is ill equipped to read Sandip's hypocrisy. She mistakes his performed speeches for genuine passion, and suffers the consequences for her failing. For Ray, there are no simple solutions for the "woman problem": the fate of Bimala's sister-in-law is clearly not acceptable, but neither is Bimala's.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

In The Home and the World there are also no simple solutions to the complex legacy of British imperialism. Ray forces us to listen to several of Sandip's speeches from start to finish. It's an effective move, for his words resonate with some truth: by becoming dependent upon British goods, the people of India have surrendered economic clout and filled the pockets of Western manufacturers and importers. In so doing, they have also taken a significant step toward assimilation, internalizing a Western value system that diminishes their own cultural accomplishments and beliefs. Sandip's chant, "Hail Motherland" (even with its frightening echoes of mid-century European nationalism) sent a chill down my spine like it did Bimala's.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

But we also see the other side of the issue through Nikhilesh, who refuses to support Swadeshi because of its untold economic consequences on the poor of Bengal. British goods are not only of better quality, but are cheaper; remove them from the local economy and the poor will be forced to buy less for their families and sell less in their markets. Like the manufactured goods sold (or burned) in Bengal's markets, other British imports — including democracy, education, and greater freedom for women — must be acknowledged for the good and harm they have brought to the people of India.
Ghare-Baire (1984)

The Home and The World is an excellent film by the great Bengali director Satyajit Ray. Based on a novel by Tagore, the drama focuses on the personal and political dilemmas faced by a wealthy Bengali woman in 1907 as her husband and his best friend vie for her affection and her political loyalties.

Very few films successfully focus on the ethical complexities of social movement organizing (The Official Story, Matewan, and Mapantsula are rare exceptions; The Way We Were has some brilliant flashes along these lines, but then veers away from these themes all too quickly). We, the viewers, are initially drawn to the viewpoint of the charismatic political organizer, just as the protagonist is drawn to him and out of the restraints of traditional purdah. Far from painting the husband as a vile monster to revolt against, however, the husband encourages the increasing independence of the protagonist, and becomes the loving conscience of the film, even as it exposes the limitations of his apparent passivity.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

As the attraction between the protagonist and the organizer mounts, so does the tempo and the tension of the political struggles in the village. As the protagonist learns more and more about the world beyond the secluded part of her palatial home, we, the viewers, begin to understand more and more the complexity of the cross-cutting tensions between: England and India, modernism and tradition, Hindu and Muslim, rich and poor, men and women, leadership and rabble-rousing, means and ends, and love and infatuation.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

All this could have been ponderous or didactic, but it's decidedly not, and one of the wonders of the film is that the political issues are woven so deftly into the story of a believable unfolding love triangle. Most movies have a difficult time portraying any motivation for two characters to `fall' in love - this movie manages to portray changes in the relationships between all three main characters with such precision and intensity that I fully believed, and cared deeply, about each one.

Ghare-Baire (1984)

The acting is extraordinary, and the cinematography, as is usual in Ray's films, is breathtaking, subtly accentuating the movie's themes of liberation and loss, and the interplay between the two.

Ray said his goal as a director was the same as Renoir's, to show that everyone has their reasons. As perhaps the most warmly compassionate of directors in all of world cinema, he succeeds brilliantly with this film.
IMDB Reviewer
Ghare-Baire (1984)

Note! This is the best possible transfer of the movie. Much better than the Artificial Eye DVD and others available on the market.

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