THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (Satyajit Ray, 1958)

Tulsi Chakraborty excels as Paresh Dutta, an insignificant bank clerk who rises in wealth and popularity, but also draws police scrutiny as a likely smuggler, after discovering a marble, a so-called “atom bomb,” that upon touching it turns iron into gold in Parash Pathar, Satyajit Ray’s lovely Capraesque fable about serendipity and satirical comedy about […]

THE BRANCHES OF THE TREE (Satyajit Ray, 1990)

Although Satyajit Ray claimed to have written it much earlier, Shakha Proshakha (Family Reunion), his penultimate film, centers on widower Ananda Majumdar, likewise about 70 and also bedridden from a heart attack. (Ray was near death when he became India’s only filmmaker to get an Oscar.) This sudden illness brings vistors: three sons and his […]

THE ZOO (Satyajit Ray, 1967)

Like The Maltese Falcon, the absorbing, richly entertaining whodunit Chiriyakhana, from the novel by Sharadindu Bandopadhay, begins with a fascinating client: Nisanath Sen (Susil Majumdar, brilliant). In Calcutta, Sen hires python-owning private detective Byomkesh Bakshi (Uttam Kumar, wonderful—best actor, West Bengal Government Prize) to track down both the song “What Do You Know About Love?” […]

COMPANY LIMITED (Satyajit Ray, 1971)

The middle part of Satyajit Ray’s “Calcutta trilogy,” based on Manisankar “Sankar” Mukherjee’s novel, Seemabaddha begins brilliantly, in a pre-credit passage with a documentary air, as protagonist Shyamalendu Chatterjee’s voiceover introduces both himself, a student of the humanities who once worked as an English teacher, and the company for which he now works as marketing […]