Madhabi “Charulata” Mukherjee is the wife of banker Anil Chatterjee (The Cloud-Capped Star). They’re barely making ends meet, supporting kids and parents, so she gets a sales job. Grandpa would rather guilt his former students into buying him favors than accept lady-money, but after Anil’s bank goes under, Madhabi gets promoted and becomes the sole breadwinner. Without anything to do all day, Anil suspiciously follows his wife around. Ultimately she’s too principled to be a capitalist, and quits in solidarity with one of her coworkers. An obvious sort of social issues drama, but with a very excellent performance by Mukherjee at its center.
Written as a follow-up to Pather Panchali (and set in 1954) but not produced for eight more years.
Chandak Sengoopta for Criterion:
The Big City was awarded the Silver Bear for best direction at the Berlin Film Festival in 1964, but it was at a festival nearer home that it had its greatest impact. When screened during a 1964 international film season in Dhaka (the capital of Bengali-speaking East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), enormous crowds, including thousands of women, queued for tickets for the three scheduled shows. The lack of seats precipitated a mini riot, and after more than a hundred people were beaten up by the police, the festival organizers were forced to schedule ten extra shows, running consecutively over twenty-four hours.