Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
India, 1963. Merchant Ivory Productions. Screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on her novel. Cinematography by Subrata Mitra. Produced by Ismail Merchant. Music by Ali Akbar Khan. Costume Design by Bettina Gill. Film Editing by Raja Ram Khetle.
A struggling Bombay schoolteacher (Shashi Kapoor) is attending a wedding and tells the groom of his first year of marriage, detailing the struggle finding the middle of the road with a woman he barely knew before they were wed. The film details their fights, the difficulties of staying together despite the interference of his shrill mother, and his own career aspirations in a job that doesn’t pay well enough for him to support a family. Kapoor’s sincere performance carries this minor charmer by Merchant Ivory, the first collaboration between director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (here adapting her own novel to the screen). The film is glacially paced and spare in detail, which won’t work for all viewers, but it’s also sweet and genuine. Satyajit Ray was a friend of the filmmakers and provided uncredited assistance on the project, his influence obviously felt in the project’s subject and tone.