Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Sonar Kella
India, 1974. Government of West Bengal. Story by Satyajit Ray, Screenplay by Satyajit Ray, Hindi dialogue by Hridayesh Pandey. Cinematography by Soumendu Roy. Music by Satyajit Ray. Production Design by Ashoke Bose. Film Editing by Dulal Dutta.
Wonderful cross-country adventure that begins when a married couple realize that the drawings their little boy is making are referencing a past life. The boy’s ability to remember living in a “Golden Fortress” full of treasures draws the attention of a doctor of parapsychology who wants to investigate the case, but also inspires the greed of a couple of con artists who kidnap the child in order to get the loot his imaginings promise. This means that the race is on when a wise detective and his teenaged protege follow the trail and are then joined by a delighted adventure story writer who has never lived his creative fancies for real. Riding in cars, on trains and even a few camels, the players hurry their way to the finish line and hope that no one gets too badly hurt. Satyajit Ray makes a somewhat overlong but colourful caper rife with terrific performances and gorgeous cinematography, his ability to capture the nuances of human behavior and connection not wasted on a film more concerned with plot twists than emotional realizations. The richness of the characters and the sympathy they engender while on their lengthy road is a great bonus to a story whose turn-out you just have to see, and the backdrops of vast landscapes and gorgeous old palaces is a pleasure to behold.